First team beat J-Academy in friendly

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J-AcademyLast Saturday, it was cold with a strong wind coming from the North. Our first team had a friendly against U19 J-Academy which was good preparation for our upcoming match against Voodoo next weekend. Our goalkeeper woes seem never-ending this season with Juliano still injured and Marcel still in Germany. Therefore, we had Philipp to “goalie” volunteer for this game.

J-Academy started strong and were much more aggressive in the first 10 minutes. On the 1st corner, they took the 0-1 lead with the ball slipping into our goalie’s hand. After 15 minutes, Patrick got in to help organize the defense… It proved to work and our team got better organized and slowly play better and better. Finally, it was Dan who equalized for us just before half time.

With a strong wind in our back in the second half, we were confident to win the game. J-Academy found it harder to come out while on the other end, it was easier for us to put pressure on them. As a result, Tomas put us in the lead. While we let Yuxuan make his debut as a right-back, Masa-san went up as our striker. Good coaching as it is him who scored the 3-1. Despite several other scoring opportunities, it stayed like that. It was a good second half after a poor start of the match.

[ SIFL ] Shanghai Lions FC 3-1 J-Academy

A good start and well-done Lions!

Cheers
Freek

Lions exit Hebiguchi Cup

HebiguchiLast Saturday, our first team was up against Shanghai Azzurri for the first-round of the Hebiguchi Cup. While it’s was super-cold, we also struggled to get enough players for this match. On the goalkeeper side, we had both Juliano and Marcel forfeit for the game. Luckily, Ousmane was willing to be our goalie but obviously, we missed him a lot as our number 6 in front of the defense.

Despite our line-up being very young, we started well closing down the Azzurri team. Upfront, our forwards Moussa and Daniel worked hard trying to keep the ball in our possession. For 30 minutes the game was even and we hoped could go into halftime with a 0-0 score-line. Unfortunately, we gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box which Azzurri converted on a second ball. Five minutes later, we shot in our own foot again by giving them a penalty which they scored. For a while, we lost the match and heads were down. Against a top-team, you get punished for every mistake you make… This is the lesson.

After half time, we were looking for a goal to bring us back into the game. We thought we got it when Moussa got brought down at the edge Azzurri box… It clearly looked like a penalty but the referee only gave a free-kick which we didn’t convert. With only 13 players against 18 very fit Azzurri players, the final part of the match became hard for the Lions. In the end, we lost 3-0 exiting us from this year’s Hebiguchi Cup. Despite the defeat, we were overall happy with the team’s fighting spirit and positive attitude.

[ SIFL H CUP ] Azzurri FC 3-0 Shanghai Lions FC

Next up we will play against Juventus and expect more players to be available. Let’s work hard at the training on Tuesday and go for a win next Saturday.

Cheers
Freek

Lions end year 2020 with a win

It was our last match of the year 2020. A difficult year for everyone due to Covid 19. We wanted the win badly, especially because we wanted to enjoy our yearly Christmas party scheduled later that same night. For this game, our seniors were against Pure FC although the weather was not ideal with a pollution level over 250 PMI 🙁

In the first half, we tried to get control of the match but were too slow and lost many battles against the solid Japanese defenders of Pures. The strategy was to focus on corners and free-kicks in order to score. Although we got plenty of them, we failed to convert any of them. We did take the lead but saw our goal overruled by the linesman who had seen the ball cross the last line and gave a goal kick instead. We were lucky when suddenly Patrick found himself in an awkward position when he was the last man and super fast Japanese striker went on the run to our goalie. Patrick fell over him and was lucky not to be sent-off.

It was 0-0 after 45mn. The talk during half-time was not so nice pointing out the lack of will to win and to score. There was no way we could go to the Christmas dinner without the win and in the second half, we played much better. Especially Hao Nan on the wings was a constant threat and he had a great strike hitting the crossbar. Finally, our reward came when Tiger was set up thru the middle and he kept his calm to make it 1-0 for us. Our confidence got better and we started to play well. However, when we were about to score the second one we lost the ball upfront and the Japanese made a trademark counter. We didn’t react fast enough and they equalized with a great strike from outside the box hitting the left post in.

It was now or never for us and a superb strike from George gave us back the lead. Now, we knew we would not give it away anymore. Instead, Samba scored our third goal and Philipp almost made it four. The final whistle marked the end of the year 2020 with a 3-1 victory for the Lions.

[ SIFL ] Shanghai Lions FC 3-1 Pures

The bus ride back to the Shanghai Town and Country Club was a pleasure with plenty of beers and good music. It was the start of a great evening out. We will have a short break now and we will be back on January 5th for our training. Our first match will be on January 9th, 2021.

Cheers
Happy Freek

First team lose against Azzurri

AzzurriLast Saturday, our first team had a late kick-off against last year’s SIFL champion Azzurri. No need for extra motivation for this kind of big game and started the match well. Our objective was not to give away anything and try to find space on the wings. We opted to start with more experienced players and let our youngster come in at a later stage in the match.

On a side note, the referee was annoying and disturbed the match blowing his whistle every 5 seconds… It’s hard to play football in this kind of condition. He had one bizarre call for an unintentional back pass from Pat to our goalkeeper Marcel within the box… Luckily their free-kick shot went wide. On our side, we got a free-kick on the edge of the box but Pat’s effort was saved by Azzurri’s keeper.

It was a slip up in concentration and communication that changed the game. On a cross from the side, 2 players were looking at each other asking who would clear the ball. Azzuri punished that second of hesitation and took a 1-0 lead. We brought Jason to get some speed forward but he was very unlucky twisting his shoulder after only 5mn… Game over for him. We didn’t have many upfront options left with Kyle and Jason both were injured. We tried to get into halftime 1-0 down but with 2mn to go, we gifted them another early Xmas gift… Instead of clearing the ball away quickly enough, Azzurri’s striker got a favorable counter block into our central defender’s feet… One on one versus Marcel and 2-0 lead for Azzurri.

In the second half we didn’t give up and kept trying but hardly came into the box of the Azzurri. We lost FL with an injury and put Dan up in the last 15 minutes but nothing changed for us. The Azzurri scored in the last 5 minutes a goal that smelled offside. Unfortunately, we didn’t protest enough to make the lineman raise his flag… This is called experience!

[ SIFL ] Shanghai Lions FC 0-3 Azzurri FC

The difference between us and the Azzurri was the experience. Azzurri team has a squad of fully experienced players whereas we are working with youngsters. It’s all about learning and training hard to improve yourself and to improve the play as a team. Next time we will do better Lions! This coming Saturday, we will play the Pures. This is another Japanese team and only a win will do for us.

Cheers
Freek

Important victory vs. Shanghai Vikings

Shanghai VikingsAfter our last minute disaster last week against Reunited, our goal was to get the three points and turn around our misfortune. For this game, our first team was up against the Shanghai Vikings… a mature team but not the fittest of the SIFL league. Therefore, we knew we had a chance to get the win. While Juliano is still injured, we were happy to have Marcel, a new German goalkeeper to help us out.

We started well not giving anything away and tried to play on the counters. The Shanghai Vikings opted for long balls only but didn’t have many players going forward. One of their best players was unlucky and got injured after 10 minutes. We took the lead after a free-kick which Philipp took well and put the ball at the low left corner. We did get opportunities to extend the lead but we were not sharp and focused enough to kill the game.

In the second half, we tried to score the second goal quickly but instead, we almost let them score… A wake-up call for the Lions! Within 15mn to go, we got our reward with a good combination between George & Jason. It saw George’s header hit the crossbar but Kyle was alert and scored what we thought was the winner. However, a small defensive error put them back into the game. Therefore, we had another 10mn of nerve-wracking game time before the referee decides to whistle the end game.

[ SIFL ] Vikings 1-2 Shanghai Lions FC

Our players getting injured in the last moment of the match and the coaches trying to fix the problems… It was hard at the end of the game and we shouldn’t get ourselves into this position in the first place… Still, we got our three points and that’s what counts at this stage.

Next up will be a hard match against the Azzurri who won the league last season. We have nothing to lose but and will give them a hard time! See you all on Tuesday.

Cheers
Freek

Senior lost last minute vs. Reunited

last minuteAfter very nice autumn, winter is coming in Shanghai with strong northern wind and dropping temperatures. We had an early 09:00 clock kick-off which but all our senior players came on time and were motivated to get a positive result against Reunited; one of the best SIFL teams in recent years. Due to injuries, we were playing with our youngest line-up so far this season. Unfortunately our goalie Juliano couldn’t play due to an ankle injury at the last minute… That was a blow for us and George who just celebrated his birthday the day before was asked to help out as goalie… of course, not his favorite position as in the last couple of weeks he was in fine form as our left-back.

Our objective was to start well after a few bad starts earlier in the season and a good start last week against the Krauts. We did start indeed well with all players disciplined to stay in their positions and us taking most of the possession from the kick-off. Reunited seemed to play more defensive with only two players upfront and mainly playing long balls hoping we would make errors in defense. Twenty minutes into the match we thought we scored as Jason was launched on the right and tried to cross with the ball inches away from being in and his cross flew by the keeper and landed on Kyle’s head as the second post but his effort went wide. It was a signal that we were going to score 1st… Philipp saw his shot from outside the box hit the crossbar and soon after we scored after Kyle went one on one with the Reunited keeper but was pushed to the side and he quickly crossed to Cyrill who didn’t hesitate to out move one defender and blast the ball in the net. Great start for the lions and we thought we would go into halftime with a lead but on a Reunited free-kick from the side, George thought he caught the ball but it dropped on the feet of a Reunited player who tipped it in in the last minute of the 1st half.

In the second half, we played the same tactics with the speed of Jason and Kyle up front and it was Jason who was launched on the edge of offside but smartly he went on one on one with the keeper and kept his cool to give us the lead again. Time for us to bring some fresh legs and we made some changes in the team. Jason got a good chance to make it 3-1 but the keeper saved and Reunited got lucky again when they got a corner and George pushed the ball away but it hit Pat and went in 2-2. Julia who came in very strong in the midfield gave us new hope when she had a super pass to Jason to set him up one on one again and he scored his second to give us a 3-2 lead with 15 minutes to go.

Herewith 15 minutes to go, we went wrong as we never changed the way we played and we should focus on one thing that is to play out the last 15 minutes instead we were still looking to score more and when we lost a ball on top Reunited surprised our defense with a high ball which dropped behind Pat. with Reunited striker being one on one… 3-3.

The last-minute was nerve-wracking as we knew from the game Reunited can score from the smallest mistake on our end and so it happened in the final second of the match after we couldn’t clear their corner and they scored and the referee blew the whistle for the end of the game.

[ SIFL ] Shanghai Lions FC 3-4 Shanghai ReUnited

It was a harsh but good lesson for us to lose like that at the last minute. We got 8 goal-scoring opportunities and we scored 3… Reunited got 1 goal scoring opportunity and the scored 4! We are in the learning stage and these results and experiences will make us only stronger going forward.

Next up is training on Tuesday and the match against the Viking on Saturday. Lions never give up!

Cheers
Freek

Seniors should have won vs. Sauerkraut

SauerkrautShanghai weather has been amazing this year gratifying us with a summer extension till mid-November… So all was set up for a good game of football for our first team against the Shanghai Sauerkraut. Our intention was to start well as in the last few matches were running behind the facts. In the beginning, we tried to come through the middle but despite the possession, we couldn’t create many opportunities. Our play was much better than last weekend but we always missed people in the box to actually score. Sauerkraut didn’t create anything either but they got one chance in the first half. On ball behind our defense, their striker got a one on one against Juliano who kept us in the race.

In the 2nd half, we played more from the flanks and created several opportunities. One of the best came for Patrick who thought he scored the 1-0… However, he saw his close-range effort stopped by the Sauerkraut goalie with a miracle save. We got plenty of corners and free-kicks but couldn’t find the net.

As it goes in football, if you fail to score your opponent will do it. With 15 minutes to go, we lost the ball on the right-wing and didn’t defend well in the center. Finally, their striker placed a shot so close to the post that it was just out of reach for Juliano. It was a shock of course as we thought we had the game in our hands… Still, we had a good and fast response with a free-kick from the left. Tomas well placed it into the box and Jason gave no chance to the goalie with a fine header.

[ SIFL ] Shanghai Krauts 1-1 Shanghai Lions FC

We tried to look for the winner but in the end, it stayed 1-1. All though it was a disappointing result as we hardly gave anything away against the Sauerkraut. We had good combinations throughout the 90 minutes but were just missing the killer instinct… With 2 of our strikers (Romain & Dan) injured, this is probably the price to pay!

Next Saturday we are up against Reunited and we will try and get a good result out of that game.

Cheers
Freek

Lions out of the SIFL Cup

SIFL CupWith a couple of players injured, our senior team had a thin squad last Saturday for a SIFL Cup game. We were playing against the Krauts a German team with a lot of length and strength in their team. As we have started poor in a couple of games we wanted to change it by not giving away free-kicks or corners but also keeping the ball longer into possession. The pace was slow from both teams and it seemed to go well for us however after a corner for the Krauts in the 20th minute we saved their header but after that we let them cross in again and we couldn’t stop their effort and let them score. We did create a couple of opportunities with FL & Tiger coming closest to scoring however we gifted them their second goal when a Kraut’s player clearly offside unspotted by the linesman as he fell asleep in the afternoon sun ran into our outcoming goalie. It was a penalty for them and we were 2-0 behind at the half time.

Enough was enough we were fighting for a comeback with a superb combination in the midfield we set Samba free and he hit the post with a great strike that was a warning to the Krauts. We did get a free kick in a good spot right in the middle of the goal but Pat’s Skill or his Wifi was not on as the ball went into orbit and has never seen back. We did get our reward by a foul in the box and Tiger kept his cool and scored the penalty. With 5 minutes to go, we all thought Pat would score the equalizer when he suddenly found him free right in front of the keeper but his effort went wide instead of in the goal.

[ SIFL CUP ] Shanghai Lions FC 1-2 Shanghai Krauts

It was a frustrating afternoon as we’re already out of the SIFL Cup… In the end, the Krauts didn’t create anything during the 90 minutes but got away with the win. Next Saturday, we play them again for the league and we are all motivated to put everything right. Let’s Go Lions!

Cheers
Freek

Senior team lost in SIFL in just 20 minutes

20 minutesIt was a beautiful day and the pitch was perfect as well. All set to have a great game of football. We had a good mix of older and younger players for this SIFL league game. Unfortunately, Juliano, our goalie, was not available due to work commitments. For this game, we were up against Reunited U18 who is a strong team with talented players with a lot of speed and power.  Of course, we had a plan and a strategy but all went upside down when we conceded a goal in the 1st few minutes… 5 minutes later we lost George our regular left-back out with a hamstring injury. 20 minutes later, it got worse when Masa-san found himself in a one on one with the Reunited forward… Usually, Masa-san would win those by using his speed but this time he got overrun and found ourselves down two goals. This was a problem for us as we now had to push more forward and were more exposed to their speedy attackers at the back. We showed character and tried to get back in the game and we had two very good occasions to score… one was a superb build from the back and midfield with the final station at Romain who hit the ball well and saw his effort hit the post. The second one was by a fast counter from our side this time Romain one on one in the box only had to give the ball to Kyle on the left so he could score but he made a move right and the chance was gone. They scored 3-0 but right before half time, Tyron scored a great goal with a strike from distance.

Yes, the heads were down at the half time but we took the opportunity to get them back up as if we would score one more we could unnerve them and come back like last week against Cosmos. Unfortunately within 5 minutes in the second half, we gifted them another goal again by losing the ball in midfield and let them run free at Fillipo. Actually, that was the final blow for us… Yes, we did score another goal after a great cross from Masa-san well finished by Tomas to make it 2-4. However, the uphill battle was too much in the last 20 minutes with three players in the back and they scored another 2. Final score 2-6 against the Lions.

Next up will be training on Tuesday and Krauts next Saturday at 13:00 kick-off.

Cheers
Freek

Great comeback to clinch a draw vs. Cosmos

comebackIt was our second 09:00 am game and because of the early kick-off, we missed a few key players… For this senior team game, we were up against Cosmos who we played in a pre-season friendly earlier last summer.

[ SIFL ] Cosmos 2-2 Shanghai Lions FC

They were well prepared and got us off guard in the early stages of the match… As a matter of fact, we were not sharp enough at the start and lost too many balls in the build-up. Luck was on their side when a soft free-kick was given on the left close to the middle line and their cross in was flying with the help of the wind past all the players and in the end past our goalie as well… It was a wake-up call for us and we got better at creating a bit more chances when 10 minutes before half time the referee pointed to the penalty spot after he saw a handball of one of the Cosmos players in the box. While Pat was already moving forward confident in our comeback; the referee went to his linesman who was surrounded by Cosmos players, and finally decided to change his decision to our big surprise! What a terrible mistake by this poor referee to overturn the penalty decision… Goal kick for Cosmos instead.

At half time we were talking about justice and make sure to get back into the game but within 15 minutes we didn’t react well to a great Juliano save and they scored the 2-0… For the Cosmos, it was game over! It’s true that we didn’t create a lot in the next 15 minutes but when got a free-kick at the edge of the box everything changed. Both Pat and Juliano were ready to take it but it was Pat who scored with a stunning free-kick in the top left corner. After this, the Lions were on fire and were looking for the equalizer. Masa-san came very close from the left but the goalie stopped his effort however it was Romain great placed ball in the left corner that gave us the well-deserved draw… Justice was made! and in the last minute, we almost clinched the win on a fast counter with a super volley of Masa-san but again the Cosmos goalie saved it.

Overall we were happy with the comeback and we will pay more attention to start stronger in our next game. Well done Lions!

 

Cheers
Freek

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