SIFL 2014-15 Roundup – Game Week 8
Week day games are always hard in Shanghai mainly due to work commitments and heavy traffic to get to the fields. As we were playing on our training ground we had a large squad called up so that at least most people got a work out. Without our regular keeper Dim we didn’t start well as most players indeed treated the match as training match instead of a SIFL League match ! The focus and concentration was not there and the Dutch happily took advantage they took a 2-0 lead and the Lions were in a state of shock. However in the second half some of the more experienced Lions knew what was at stake and started to turn around the game. Especially Allan our Belgian player was highly motivated against the Dutch and with his two goals and one own goal by the Dutch we clinched all three points. We are now two points clear on top of the SIFL and will have a massive game on Saturday against the Azzuri !
On Saturday, we played against the Vikings in the first round of the Hebiguchi Cup. We had not played against them for a while and knew them for their physical game. Patrick was missing for a while as he was hit by an acute food poisoning after eating chicken tika masala the night before! We started very well and scored within 2 minutes by Romain and it was our Captain (Benji) who looked the most inspired player of all the Lions on the day scored the second two minutes later. When Matthieu scored our third goal everybody knew the game was over as goal difference doesn’t count in cup game…
We tried to look for small passing possession games in the second half but it was not easy to find the motivated to push for more! By this win we made it to the semi-finals of this cup.
On Sunday we had a hard game against Gremio a strong Chinese / Brazilian team. The game consisted of two completely different halves. In the first half we found ourselves playing against only 9 Gremio players. We managed to get a quick goal from right back Francois who pushed forward and finished nicely. We tried very hard to score more and take advantage of the situation but we were not good in making the final pass or the final shot or header ! It was 1-0 at half time and in the second half Gremio had a full squad complete with three fast fit and furious African players ! It was a superb strike of one of them who brought the equalizer. There was nothing that Dim our goalie could do about it! We pushed Dave upfront and that move paid dividend as a fast counter and a good cross from Tomas C found Dave free in front of the goalie and he didn’t hesitate to score the 2-1. Now the game was on and we had to defend more and more and it was an off side hesitation that give Gremio the equalizer. We still got good opportunities to play on the counter and Cesar came closest only to see his shot hit one post and hit the other post, very unlucky!!! With 10 minutes to go we lost Nacho after the Chinese referee gave him two cheap yellow cards… We held on and in the end we could look back at a good second half!
This week and next week it will be a very busy weekend for the Lions:
Let’s try to get the best out of all these games stay fit and focused!
On Saturday we were up against Reunited the current leader of the SIFL. As they are a good playing side dangerous on the counter attacks. We decided to try a 4-5 -1 formation and our key objective was to score first. Allthough it was a new system for the Lions it worked very well as we closed down the midfield and the Reunited were struggling to find their free players as each and every time there was Lion in their way ! Romain our sole striker still had enough power to pose a threat to their defense and in the 15thminute the Lions got what they wanted by a fine finish of Romain. In the second half the Lions dominated the game and Mathieu was unlucky to see his header hit the cross bar after a fine Benji / Allan combination. Reunited started to play more aggressive going forward. It was on one of those counter attacks that the found hole in the Lions defense and they equalized with 15 minutes to go. The Lions still had a few good opportunities to take all three points especially Allan came very close to score but you need a bit of luck sometimes to make the difference. Overall we were pleased with our display on the field and we will try to play better and better each week. If we win the upcoming game against the Dutch on 26th of November we will be back on top !
On Sunday we faced the Cowboys a very good Chinese side who have been playing together their whole live since they went to the same university. For the Lions we are in a transition phase where we try to cover up the holes of a few key players who left us over the summer as they went back home. The first half performance was good and we match the same level as the Cowboys. We even took the lead by a goal of Patrick of course this was also the wake up goal for the Cowboys who can be deadly on their counter attacks. It was one of those that they equalized 1-1. The second half we couldn’t match the same level as in the first half partly because of fitness and as well Patrick needed to drop back as we had no other defender available. We lost too many short passes and got punished by a quick strike of Zhuang top scorer of the SPL to make it 2-1. The breaking point of the game was a clear handball in the box after a Cesar striker. The Chinese referee saw it and pointed it to be a penalty only to find out that he put the ball on the line of the box for a free kick ! Simon shot went just wide. When Zhuang ran free 5 minutes later it was our goalie Dan who tripped him and prevent him from scoring but of course he got a red card for this and with 10 men for the last 15 minutes it was a very difficult task for the Lions.
Our spirit was good in both games and we need to take the positives from the games each week. The more and better we train we will get the results we want.
This coming Wednesday we invited a Chinese Team to play against us on our training pitch. All Lions are welcome including the veterans. It is good to have a practice game to build confidence and strength !
This upcomning weekend we have the Lions taking part in the Phuket tournament and we wish them all the success !
The Lions Legends faced a crucial game versus Bellewood this Sunday. Bellewood a strong physical British side were surely not an easy walk over. However the Lions Veterans have grown up over the last couple of months and started to play better and better football. With a solid strategy we started strong defended well the long balls and as well kept our cool against the tackles and verbal attacks ! It was a smart move by Fred F which got us a penalty and the 1-0 lead as he placed the ball nicely in the corner. Confidence was there and by a good counter attack it was Jack our new Chinese signing who scored the 2-0 ! In the second part of the game we were up against the wind and the long balls were harder to defend. Bellewood managed to get a goal back with a free kick flying in the top corner. We needed at that time all players to step it up but mr Fuseau had other plans as a late tackle by him resulted in second yellow card. First red in his life he claimed but the coach was not amused and didn’t seemed to want to hear Fred’s apologies. God bless Bellewood very soon got one of their players sent off as well. When we scored the 3-1 through a corner finished by Fred G we thought it was the end of the game not knowing the Bellewood No 20 would blast the ball behind our goalie right from the kick off ! In the end the final whistle came and we knew that this was our best Lions Veterans performance sofar 3-2 win ! It was when we were drinking beers paid by Fred F that an Emerald player congratulated us with our Championship ! With one game to go against the Scots and still unbeaten nobody can catch us anymore and we were crowned Champions of the Shanghai Veteran League 2014 ! Great team with a great spirit shown this weekend !
Plans for the Championship celebrations were the talk of the day and it looks like we can have a nice night out in the near future !
Well done Lions Legends and it shows that the true Lions Spirit never dies !
Usually the President likes to take control of everything but this time he had no chance as control was taken over by the Lions players who decided it was time to organize a surprise party for his 51st birthday ! He was stunned when he expected to have a small dinner with the Lions management but instead was brought to a full house at our new sponsor La Creperie ! Both his wife Yukari and son Rick were part of the complot and managed to keep the surprise a secret until the end. The President was very happy to see so many Lions present and when he received a beautiful painting of our first SIFL title celebration he was clearly touched ! The Party moved to Unico where Lions Deejay Kevin and banana act Garret made sure everybody could party unit late ! It showed that the Lions are on big family and the president was a very happy Man ! Thank you all !
On Sunday the Lions needed to get back to winning in order to stay close to the top in the league. Japan was the opponent and they were desperate to get their first points of the season. Lions started well dominated the game with possession. However a long ball flew in the Lions goal after nobody could clear it ! This was the wake up call and soon after we equalized by thomas just before half time we took the lead after a good combination play ending with a goal by Benji. In the second half we controlled the game and soon got our reward another goal by Benji 3-1. After this Japan kept fighting and the Lions failed to score more goals. In the end Japan got one back but the Lions took all three points.
After this game we had a special game organized for our U18 team as we let them play against a mix of veterans and senior player. It was really appreciated that so many Lions stayed back to play against our youngsters after they already had a game in the legs ! In the first half the youngster were a bit afraid especially because the seniors took an early lead but the managed to score a goal back thru Thai Striker Bank, 3-1 at half time and in the second half the young Lions played good football and proved not to be a walk over. Francesco our Italian striker scored a nice goal to make it 3-2 and the final goal of the game came from Russian Max to make it 3-3. A draw was perfect as Max Kirby played against his son Calum and both could live with a draw. It was a great experience for the young Lions !
As if this wasn’t enough for the weekend we had three veteran Lions running the Shanghai half marathon / Fred and Fred clocked a decent 1.47 and Max 2.01 ! Well done !
We have two big games ahead of us this upcoming weekend ! On Saturday we play Re-united and on Sunday the Cowboys ! Let’s prepare well and all come to the training on Wednesday !
Cheers Very Happy Freek
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