SPL V 2021/2022 champions

Legends are 2021/2022 champions of SPL veteran league

Last Sunday, our legends beat Shanghai Emerald FC 2-1 in the penultimate game of the season. With 1 game left to go vs. Japan this make our legends 2021/2022 champions of SPL veteran league.

Saying that this has been one of the most bizarre seasons in our club history will be an understatement. To have all the people in Shanghai and therefore all our players being locked up for close to 3 months in their compounds or apartments has been an unprecedented experience for all us!

The question was how will our mental and physical condition be after the release? Will we still be able to kick a ball? The legends took quick action once we could leave our places and booked a field under the Lupu bridge on the weekends to get our fitness back. Trainings resumed on Tuesdays at L sports park and we started to look in good shape again.

However we had to deal with another problem with some players leaving China. Like other teams, we had to say goodbye to Tomas our striker, Bob our coach, Nikko our left wing player, Haroun our Captain and Nicolas Serrano our playing pastry chef.

As the league could only play one full round due to Covid; we had only two games left against Emerald and Japan.

Emerald has been our toughest opponent in recent years and we struggled to beat them. This time we were motivated to change the tide as only a draw will allow us to become 2021/2022 champions.

With 19 players signed up for the match, all players on time and motivated; this turned out to be a great benefit for us specially due to the 35 degrees heat.

We started well in the first 20 minutes keeping possession and let Emerald chase the ball. On top we were dangerous with our speed on the wings and the Emerald defense was struggling. Unfortunately we could not take the lead. Clement had to make a great save after Steve; the fast and furious Emerald player shot from outside the box.

We made a few changes in the 2nd 20 minutes and suddenly we lost our game. This time, it was Emerald keeping possession and we were chasing the ball. We found ourselves being nervous and lacking confidence. The fact that Steve blasted the ball at our post with another shot didn’t help. As we couldn’t keep any ball upfront and couldn’t play the ball around in defense; it was a nightmare for our midfielders who were running up and down for nothing.

We used the half time talk to get things back on track slowly things started to be more positive but half way through the 3rd 20 minutes right after we lost Skiv by injury we let the Emerald midfielder go through and his shot was well placed to give Emerald the lead.

Now, we had only 20 minutes left to turn this game around. We had to show our fighting spirit and character which was especially hard due to the sizzling heat. We thought we scored the equalizer when Nicolas had a superb cross from the right and David was there to header the ball in the right corner but to our horror the ball was just wide of the outside of the post. 

With 10 minutes to go it was a power shot of Big John which suddenly bounced in the box and flew over the keeper in the net. Call it Champions luck but sure we took it gladly.

The goal gave us a big boost and Emerald was running out of steam and our icing on the cake came from a through ball from Hira-san to Mamdouh who used his fast speed and energy to play out the Emerald defenders and he blasted the ball in the net. We knew we would not let this go and the whole team kept fighting to bring the win and the 2021/2022 champions tittle back to the Lions.

[ SPL V ] Shanghai Lions FC 2-1 Shanghai Emerald FC

After the final whistle the party could begin after a short speech by the President reflecting on how we came from deep down in the game to back up at the end all by spirit and unity to fight as one team. We thanked all the players who had contributed to our 10 wins in the league so far. As well we said goodbye to Nicolas Siaud who played his last game for the Lions.

The party continued at Senso to celebrate together with Severino and his wife and we had a great lunch outside with great food and a grappa to end a beautiful day. 

Well done Legends and it was super nice to see so many positive reactions from Lions players who are no longer in China.

Super Happy Freek

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