My First Full Season as a FASISAC Manager – Part Three

Match four:

Mighty Goats

2

2

The Meteors

Kattan

Kattan

      Espinoza

Nesbitt

Two – one down with seconds on the clock we (Ali Kattan) rescued a point with the final kick of the game. The players celebrated at the final whistle but it had been another winnable match that we’d thrown away due to our flimsy midfield and a messy game from our ‘keeper Rui Roberto.

In the press conference after the match a reporter said ‘You shouted “get the ball to Ali” a lot today. To what extent do you think you’re a one man team?’ I responded by saying ‘try playing without a goalkeeper’ some smart alec muttered ‘it looked like you did today’.

Post match message from Vincent ‘Can you get me Ali Kattan’s signature if I send you my shirt please? He signed it before but my mum washed it and I feel embarrassed asking again’ I said I’d see what I could. Thirty seconds later there was a knock on my door and a woman, who introduced herself as Vincent’s mum, handed me Vincent’s home-made Mighty Goats t-shirt. His Mum must have been sat outside which creeped me out a bit but then she told me how FASISAC was bringing Vincent a lot of joy and that she wished me well and the minor stalking became quite charming.

Match five:

The Pioneers

1

4

Mighty Goats

Dingo

      Kattan

Babatunde

Kattan

Kattan

Our best performance of the season so far moved us above our opposition to top of the league with one game left to play. A masterclass in finishing from Ali Kattan once again.

Meggage from Vincent ‘Gaffer, if we win or draw our final game, we’ll win the league! I have to say I wasn’t sure about you at first what with the lack of midfielders but now I have all the confidence that wwwwwweeeeee cccccaaaannnn ddddooooo iiiiiittttt!!!’

Match 6:

League standings

  Pld W D L F A GD Pts
Mighty Goats 5 2 3 0 14 8 +6 9
The Pioneers 5 2 1 2 8 9 -1 7
Otters 5 1 3 1 5 5 0 6
The Meteors 5 0 3 2 5 10 -5 3

The equation was simple, win or draw against the Otters and we would win the league. If we ended the season tied on points then head to head record is used so my superior goal difference over the Otters wouldn’t come into play.

In our previous meeting the Otters had played a sit deep tactic that nullified our preferred attacking game plan. In anticipation of us having less attacks and needing to do a bit of defending I made the decision to give Haji Gamal his debut. He was shocked, so shocked that he admitted he hadn’t brought any shin pads and so had to borrow some.

The match started with us looking nervous, they had a couple of attacks early on that they came very close to taking. When we finally attacked it fell to the Omani Piranha himself and there was only one outcome – Kattan bullied his way past his marker and slotted the ball in the bottom corner to score the opener. The celebration was short lived however as Kattan felt the back of his thigh and pulled up with an injury. He gestured that he could play on but he was hobbling badly and so I made the call to replace him with Igor. I shouted to the lads to keep it tight, try and bring us into halftime with the one nil lead but before I’d finished my sentence Haji Gamal, who had started the game well, fell on his arse and gifted the ball to Oleg Andreiko who scored the equaliser for the Otters. Moments later things went from sort of okay but not ideal to probably not okay. Kuuku Akua fell awkwardly after a tackle and there was no chance of him carrying on. We’d lost our two best players and were now very vulnerable defensively.

Half time arrived not a minute too soon and it was time for me to step up, inspire a broken team to pick themselves up off the floor and go out and claim the title that was deservedly theirs. What I actually did was have a long conversation with Ali Kattan about whether he could come back on. ‘I can play with injections’ he said, then I said ‘what injections?’ he then replied ‘you know the ones they give players who are injured but still want to play’ I told him ‘We don’t have any of them, but there’s some Ibuprofen in the medical bag’ Ali wasn’t sure because he thought they took about twenty minutes to kick in but took two anyway and went back on. My last words to the team were ‘we’ve got to go for goals now, we don’t have the personnel to sit back so let’s score more than them and win this league in style. Haji Gamal said ‘Am I still on then?’ To which I said ‘Yes son. Go and do me proud’ The tone was all wrong, it came out false, he knew I blamed him for their goal. He shook his head as he left the changing room.

As the second half started to take shape it was clear that our attacking play was paying off, they were no longer sitting back and instead were adopting a high press, something our fluid movement made a fool’s strategy.

It wasn’t long before Ali Kattan, even without full mobility, was able to get half a yard and score his twelfth goal of the season, sealing the golden boot by a country mile. We were playing well, they were rattled and only their ‘keeper was keeping the score at 2-1. Then, against the run of play, Bram De Haan picked up the ball, danced past Mickey McKenzie with a beautiful step over and hammered home to equalise again for the Otters.

At 2-2 we were still on top of the table but it was squeaky bum time. The bum that squeaked the loudest was that of Chika Babatunde as he chased back and bundled Bram De Haan over in the area. Penalty! Guillaume Vivant stepped up and converted. The Otters had taken the lead with only minutes left on the clock.

We battled hard and Kattan had several half chances but we had fallen at the final hurdle. We had lost the game and lost the league title. We were all devastated.

Post match message from Vincent ‘My heart is hurting, my tears are real. You still have my belt, can I have it back please’

A week after the end of the season I had time to reflect, although we hadn’t won the league we’d tried and got damn close to the championship. There were highs and lows, good decisions and bad but we’d been part of a story and that’s what FASISAC is all about.

 

FASISAC final game of the season

The line-ups for the final match of the season

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