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.
The game ended up 5-1 for the Shooters and we can only look at ourselves for the result. We will work hard to learn from it and move on to the next game.
Freek & Pat