Lions never give up !
We had our last game on Saturday before the Chinese New Year and our opponent was DIB ! The semi professional side from Shanghai was trailing us by three points before this game after we had beaten them in the first game of the season 1-0. We wanted to get a result out of this game to keep the championship in our own hand. With no Azz and Simon we knew we had to step up our game and preparation in order to do so !
It started with the poker night on Friday at Charles home ground ! Great way for team building before a game and according to “Le Patron” all Lions were drinking water and nothing else. Next positive was that all the Lions arrived way early before the game and helped by the great weather their spirit was lifted soon.
Tactics were discussed and key to this game was to defend from the top to bottom and never give them space for a counter attack which could be deadly against DIB. In between I told Chris who had been troubled with injury most of last season that we needed him for 90 minutes today and I referred to the fact that our team spirit should give us the edge over DIB and last but not least I asked the senior players to step up and give the extra’s needed today to get a result.
In the first half we played very disciplined and everybody worked very hard to make sure we didn’t concede. Remy our Captain blocked two shot from the line just a confirmation how focused we were not to concede a goal. We got a few good breaks and came close to scoring a few times. DIB were on three yellows at half time which was another important aspect in such a close encounter.
Nil-Nil at half time was a good result and we continued to play the same tactics in the second half. All looked fine as we controlled most of the possession but 20 minutes before the end disaster struck as the DIB striker in between three Lions suddenly turned and found himself free in front of the goal and didn’t miss ! For 5 minutes all players heads were down as we didn’t expect them to score while we had been defending so well throughout the game ! Benji not match fit for the game due to injury gave it all but for the final 15 minutes I asked whether Francois our veteran could play in Benji’s role, sure was his reply as his father was watching the game ! The Lions started to fight in the last 10 minutes and gave everything in their heart and soul to score a goal. First a corner and a great header by BIG John almost got us the goal, seconds later a super cross from Fabie found Romain who couldn’t convert it, another great cross from Chris found Romain who volleyed the ball straight and if it would have gone in it would have been goal of the year but the DIB keeper saved it ! Another corner in the last minutes and all Lions went up even Dimitri our keeper went up. In the very last minute another corner and Francois who remembered our pre-game talk that somebody needed to be on the DIB goalie so he did and when Chris (he lasted 94 minutes) corner came flying in one meter away from the DIB goalie he knew before his header that he would score !
Unbelievable fighting spirit from all the Lions and a well deserved result which puts us back on top of the SIFL ! For us this draw is like a win and for DIB this draw is like a loss !
Let’s stay focused and work hard over the Chinese New Year to stay fit and sharp for the second half of the season !
If you are in Shanghai during the Chinese New Year pls come the training as the Lions never stop playing ! Next up is DIB in the Cup game on the 15th !
Cheers Happy Freek