Dear Senior Lions, Lions Youth, Lions Legends, Lions Abroad, Friends and Family ! As a club we ended our season last weekend with our youth clinching the SPL U17 Title ! While we started as an expat team back in 1996, we’re certainly now a real family Club ! We have three strong sections representing the club at the highest competitive football level in Shanghai ! All of this contributed to make a successful season 2017-2018 ! Xie Xie
Let’s start with our Lions Youth first as they have the future ! We were asked to take over the Century Park Youth (above 14 years old) back in May 2017… From day 1, we were committed to make it happen as we already had a youth team for the older players.
We set up the Shanghai Lions Youth Academy and were happy to have Azzeddine and Nick taking up the coaching / training jobs ! We trained twice a week on Wednesday and Friday at the great 11 aside field of Concordia and played matches in the SPL U17 league on Saturdays. The commitment and hard work of our players at the training was outstanding and week after week our team got stronger and stronger. Suddenly, players from all over the world started to bond and what was crucial was that especially our older youth players started to feel responsible for the younger ones and they gave them great support and advice during the season !
This in the end resulted in success ! First we won the Aksil Cup beating the German in final on penalties ! It showed our never give up mentality ! In the SPL U17 league we were trailing from behind after two losses early in the season but week after week we got stronger and stronger. Therefore, when Wiss Stoke City slipped up against Ebbe Sand we knew that a win over Japan would give us the title ! We didn’t have to tell the young lions what was at stake as a large win sealed the deal and it was great end of a great season !
Youth Team Standing (Season 2017-2018)
Next up are our Lions Senior players who played in the SPL, a competition we have won multiple times ! With the Cowboys and ERS having left the league, we knew that the Marlins will be our closest rival. Also, it was clear that we couldn’t afford any slip against other teams !
In the first half of the season we won all our games but when we were up against the Marlins for the first time on January 14 we got an important wake up call as we not only lost Azz by injury during the game but we lost the match without creating opportunities 4-0 ! The turn out of the training during the winter started to drop which was not a good sign.
Luckily, some of our Youth players were ready to help out and started to get more and more playing time in our first team. We had to wait until April 14 to have our second encounter against the Marlins a loss would end our hopes. With a 1-1 score line and with 15 minutes to go on the clock it was by goals of our youngsters Shingi and Matty that gave us a 3-1 win and kept us in the race.
So the Championship race came down to the final match of the season we needed a win as we tied on goal difference but had scored less goals. The Marlins took the title away from us in a well deserved 3-2 win ! We gave it all in the second half and showed great team spirit on and off the field ! We will try to get the title back next season and we know now that we cannot slip up after the Christmas break !
First Team Standing (Season 2017-2018)
Our Legends were in the race for the SPL V Championship which went to the Emeralds on previous season ! However this time Emerald slipped up twice losing against Japan and Scotland and we were in a very close race with Japan for the title. In our second last match we faced Japan and we needed a draw to clinch the title ! The match was nerve wrecking but our defensive strategy paid off as we made sure Japan couldn’t counter we even scored first with a fine strike of Laid. With great saves from our goalie Clement and solid defensive work we could keep Japan on hold but they got one goal back and the last 10 minutes were not for the faint hearted people ! The final whistle was a big relief and we could start the celebrations ! SPL V Champions !
Veteran Team Standing (Season 2017-2018)
Two Championship Titles and a Second place is a good result for the Club. A special thank you is well placed for the hard work Azzeddine and Nick have done to keep us fit and sharp and focused at the training ! The training were great week in and week out ! Of course we also like to thank Concordia for allowing us to use their great facilities as nothing better than to train at a full size 11 aside field ! Our website reached 2.5 M clicks this year which is an achievement in its own right. Big thank you for Francois keeping track of the site and statistics for the players ! Thank you Thomas Z for helping to coach the first team !
What was important this season was that we got several youth players making their debut in the senior first team and they did very well as well we got several senior players making their debut in the Legends team and they did well as well. This makes our club real and unique in Shanghai ! Lets keep supporting each other and make the Club stronger and stronger !
As every year, a few players will leave us at the end of this season and we wish them good luck with their new life and ventures outside China. Now, we already managed to recruit a few new players on all three levels which is very important for the consistency of the teams in our Club !
We hope everybody will enjoy the World Cup and the Summer break and we are looking forward to see you all back in Shape in August ! Well done Lions Youth, Lions and Lions Legends !