October weather is always pleasant in Shanghai and perfect for playing football. Our first game of the new SIFL season was straight away one of the most important as we were facing DIB last year’s runners up! It was a 15:00 PM kick off which is not easy to stay focused before the game. However we got 17 motivated lions ready to start the season and everybody was on time. We were quite surprised that the DIB came pretty late and seemed to be more busy carrying boxes to the field than preparing for the game! Our strategy was to play smart and try to keep the game at a slower pace. We didn’t want to ignite the fire and although the first half must have been boring for the spectators it was all about a real tactical battle where each side hoped that one of their opponents would make a mistake. We got a few close calls but managed a 0-0 at half time. The second half was different because some of the DIB players were not as fit as all the Lions. Suddenly our season preparation paid-off, boot camps and friendly games combined with hard training session, gave us the edge. We found more holes in their midfield and started to play more counter attacking football. The reward game from a free kick. The spot was perfect but when I looked at the Chinese Wall I got scared all their players in the Wall were 1.90 tall. I like to bet against the odds and this time I asked our bench who wanted to bet with me as I claimed Azz would hit the wall……….nobody took the bet and Azz blasted it in the top corner when he saw the DIB keeper was out of position! We got several opportunities to score two/three more goals but we were not sharp enough yet.
Our biggest asset on the day was our defense. We defended over 20 corners without threat and in the dying minutes of the game we got a few calls against us but we stayed focused. DIB got a free kick even closer to the goal than ours of Azz but they wasted it in the last minute of the game. I was really happy with our discipline and team spirit during the game. The bench whoever was on it were on their toes screaming to support the lads on the field. At one point I had to ask Charles not to scream that loud as I was afraid of earthquakes……! 1-0 it stayed and it was so important for us to start the season with a win!
The next day the veterans were looking for a win to keep their first position in the League. Veteran play four small halves and after the second half it was 1-1 versus the Irish who stood out for their swearing words thrown on the pitch either to the referee, or us, or their own players. Our third quarter we played like real Lions and destroyed them 4-1! At the end we gave them two goals so that the spectators and assistant coaches were happy to come and support all the way in Waigaoqiao. Great result 4-3 win!
Great weekend for the Lions! Key for all the Lions is the training and we urge that everybody attend the training this Wednesday / Please let us know on our website that you come so that we can plan the training sessions accordingly. Our training sessions are the best in Shanghai!
Lets keep our spirit high! Go Lions Go!
Cheers Happy Freek