Last Saturday was our biggest game of the season as we needed to win to get a place in the top 5 playoffs. Of course, we all knew that the Shooters would be a hard nut to crack as ranked No. 2 in the SIFL league. It was a pity that a couple of players arrived late so we couldn’t 100% prepare ourselves before kick-off. Our strategy was to keep it 0-0 in the first half and try to play more offensive in the second half. Due to this 5th early 09:00 kickoff of the season, our goalkeeper Juliano was missing as he had to work training the Shanghai Shenhua youth keepers… Instead, we had FL willing to help out but obviously, that was not a perfect replacement as he’s not a goalkeeper.
We started the game well and it was good to see the youth players stepping up their game against a tough and more physical opponent. We stayed focused and composed in the back and the Shooters were not dangerous with hardly a shot on target. They got a few corners which we managed to defend and clear. We on the other side managed to get a couple of counters but we missed the killer in the box to finish it as well. Out of nothing the game changed and disaster struck… when Ousmane made a tackle far in the Shooters half where there obviously is no need for a tackle but the Shooters thought it was a very dangerous tackle despite their player standing up right away and there was a bust-up with the final result Red card for Ousmane and only yellow for the Shooter player who attacked Ousmane in the bust-up. Obviously, our game plan was finished and Shooters quickly scored 2-0 taking advantage of the situation… We asked the referee how much time left and he told us 1 minute before halftime… Several minutes later the Shooters coach asked how much time left and the referee said again one minute… In that minute they scored the 3-0! Unbelievable as the referee played an additional 7 minutes in the first half. When confronted by our president, his only answer was to give him a yellow card 🙁
At halftime, we told the players to keep the first 30 minutes in their minds as we were equal. But now with 3-0 down and a man less we had to keep our heads cool and show spirit. That’s what we did as everybody worked super hard not to get a heavy defeat and to get a goal back in the game. Our reward came from a free-kick of Pat far out. We told him to shoot because the wind was in our back and whether I like it or not I must admit it was a bullet that blasted into the net leaving the Shooters goalie with no chance.
Last Sunday was a special day because it was Matze ‘s last game after more than 250 games wearing a Lions shirt. We were up against local team Lao Pao, the latest comer in the SPL Veteran league. We got last-minute cancelations and a few players also arrived late… This resulted in the oldest forward line-up in Lion’s history with a cumulated age over 160 years old!
The field was a bit hard to play due to the last few days’ rains. There was also a strong wind blowing against us in the first halves. The Chinese team looked fit and sharp and their number 55 legs were double the width of us. He was definitely their key player getting all the balls and taking all the free kicks. Luckily our players noticed that and one by one we made sure to give him a little notch and prevented him from passing or shooting. We were happy to rest with 0-0 in the first 20 minutes.
In the second 20 minutes, our game got better as we managed to get closer into their box. It was a great run by Aky in the box which was ended by a slide tackle (which is not allowed in the SPL V)… So we got a penalty and it was our playmaker Haroun who kept his calm and scored 1-0 for the legends.
In the third 20 minutes, we made sure to keep our defense intact and our goalie Clement saved us a couple of times by boxing the ball away. On a far free-kick, our president thought he could send it into the top corner with the help of the wind… His effort got deflected by an opponent who passed it nicely to Sylvain. He ended up free in front of the goal and scored his second goal for the legends.
In the last 20 minutes, we composed ourselves after an earlier bust-up which was not necessary. We played out the match keeping the clean sheet and clinching 3rd place in the SPL Veteran.
After the final whistle, it was time to say farewell to Matze & Natalia. We did that after a few speeches and managed to lift Matze ‘s 100 kilos up in the air a couple of times. We wish them all the best in their new life. They promised to carry the Lions family’s heart and passion all the way to Berlin.
Last Saturday, our senior team had an important match vs. Japan as our goal is to end in the top 6 of the league… Obviously, a loss would have put us into trouble. As Japan FC is usually well organized (most teams struggle against them), we came up with a special game plan and strategy. We opted for 3 at the back and 2 wing backs going forward and only two players up top. By doing so we knew we could withhold Japan’s counter-attacks. We were very happy to have Juliano back in the goal after a 3-month long injury as his experience and involvement in the game are essential to give our defense confidence.
Japan did get several corners but with the whole team back to defend them we could prevent any danger. It was our pressing with the whole team that caused problems for Japan and we get stronger and stronger as the game went on. It was a super straight pass from George flying over the two Japanese central defenders which gave Junior a chance to shoot his shot was weak but just hard enough to roll the ball over the line as the Japanese goalie came out at first. That goal boosted our spirits going into halftime.
With a new coach board supplied by Masa-san Pat tried to explain what needed to be done in the second half. Japan was very disciplined in the way they played… Never rushed or panicked and just waited for the one or two opportunities and they did get a few! One time it was the post that helped us and the other time it was Juliano who saved us. Our legs were getting tired but we had several youth players on the bench and the fresh legs helped. Romain as well saved us coming on as a late sub with a super tackle in the box.
The match was about our team spirit as ONE team and it was great we got rewarded with a victory and three points after our hard work. Let’s keep this momentum and work hard at the training and be ready for our next important match against Voodoo Child. It is a must-win game for us to end in the TOP 6 after the first round of the league.