We had our biggest game of the season last Saturday. DIB our closest contender needed a win to stay in the title race. We did our preparation well as to what best tactics to use having watched them play a couple of times but looking at the team of DIB who were warming up this time it looked like they had put out the strongest team they could find in Shanghai for the occasion. Our strategy was to always stay calm and composed as we were 8 points ahead of DIB second in the league, so the pressure was on them not on the Lions!
However 5 minutes into the game Felipe, not aware his opponent striker, Didier Njewel (1), was an ex-pro who played for Shanghai East Asia FC in the 2011-2012 season, did fly over his leg in the box. Question was whether he touched him or not… Felipe and the referee were clear he was flying over his leg and there was no penalty given, but it was our wake up call!
Five minutes later we were on the counter attack and Jerome shot ended up in the feet of Romain who tried to shoot himself and miss-hit the ball completely and surprisingly the defender of DIB gave the ball back to Romain and asked him to shoot again, sure this time 1-0 for the Lions! Perfect start however a DIB corner landed on the head of their striker at the near post and they equalized.
In the second half we played better and controlled most of the game. It seemed our fitness level was better and we were a bit surprised that DIB was not fighting for the win. It was time to bring Jonny O’Shea, who needed to vomit after the warming up, on to do the damage. 15 minutes before the end he dribbled past two DIB defenders and managed a perfect left foot cross on Man Of the Match Dani, who headed the ball into the top corner! We were on cloud nine and with the clock ticking away we thought we got this until an injury time free kick of DIB was not defended properly and was straight shot in! Final score 2-2.
Its always good to learn from mistakes as that’s the only way to get better ! Dimitri our goalie had an outstanding game and overall I was very pleased with our team performance as we all felt that we were the better team. Big plus was our composure as except for a small black out of Fabie (think he thought it was earth hour) we took all the knocks and hits and kept on playing football all the time.
These are the games we will remember of this season and now it’s looking good for the Lions 4 games to go and we are 8 points clear on both DIB and the Shooters as I have mentioned many times before this season goal difference is key and we are +23 goals ahead of DIB and + 33 goals ahead of the Shooters. Although we know that two more wins will give us our first SIFL title all of the Lions want to win all the last 4 games to make it a whole season unbeaten run!!!
After the game we all went to Bloc for our brunch and I was pleased by the food choice of Dani who helped my choose. Plans for the next poker game were laid out by Charles and Chris and the Lions remained humble in spirit not celebrating anything as their next game will be the most important of the season against the Dutch next Saturday. Nothing but a win will do!
On Sunday, it was also a memorable Lions day. We won 5-0 but not without controversy. I received phone call from the Flamenkos Captain late on Saturday saying he didn’t have a team and needed to forfeit the game. As we didn’t play last week and we are in the last stage of the competition and had a very good chance to win the league I thought it would be very bad not to play. A quick phone call to Simon did the job we intended to play 8 a side among ourselves to stay focused and fit and wouldn’t announce it to anybody as otherwise our players would party too much ! 45 minutes before kick off I got a call from Garret shouting where are the Flamenkos ….!! Told him the Flamenkos were gone! Angry faces but we did have a very good session for ourselves with 18 lions showing up! Only four games to go and if we win all of them we will be SPL Champions. We cannot let go this opportunity Lions! Next up is Japan and too bad for them it will be our revenge for the 2-2 draw earlier this season! And believe it our not we will play at Jinqiao!
Big weekend ahead for all Lions ! Train good and stay focused !