Nip and Tuck

With CPL football seemingly gone for an eternity, and with no signs of life from the CPL organisers, the Red Lions got in a last minute friendly against JFC, replacing Jubei who could not get a team together. It was another one of those hot days at Da Jia, but – as Kim Sun Il pointed out – the Japanese team was a little short. Of players. They only had around 22 of their usual squad of 220. And they had been practising since 10 that morning. So they were knackered.

The Lions assembled with some new players as triallists, Lex from Da An/Mistukoshi, who – Kim Sun Il enjoyed reminding Mao several times – scored a rocket of an angled shot against the Lions keeper in the 2-2 draw in the BML last season. Mao was equally quick to retort that at least the Lions did not lose that game, as opposed to the first game against Mitsukoshi where, with Volker in goal, the Lions got stuffed 2-0.

The game also marked the return of a familiar face in Ian, who is slowly returning from injury.

With 17 players eager to make an impression, Captain “Oh Captain my Captain” Cooke had the kind of selection problem that all coaches love – too many players. With Jaime returning from the USA without the promised goods for both chairman and captain, he instead tried to smooth his way in to their good books by providing a magneto board and a captain’s armband. The armband was immediately handed over to Birthday Boy Barras, who failed to bring the beers. Thankfully a case of Sapporo did make its way to Da Jia, although your humble chronicler is much too humble to point out who brought them.

Straight from kick off the Lions went on the attack, playing some sweet balls on the floor, to feet, in to space, the team gelling together well, not looking at all like a month had gone since the team played. The new players, Johnny, Lex and Tetsu all showed some excellent potential, and the return of Bryan bolstered the midfield immensely.

Having said that, Bryan was also met with some hard and niggly tackles, not always fair, but Bryan would have his revenge, and it would be of the sweetest kind.

But your humble scribe is getting a tad ahead of himself.

Within the first couple of minutes it was clear that JFC was going to have trouble getting the ball out of their own half, the Lions winning a series of corners, one crossed in to the near post where Barras nodded in a tonker of a header, delightfully delivered by Alejandro, to make it 1-0 Lions.

A few minutes after, and this is where Bryan has now caught up with your humble narrator, Bryan could be seen getting frustrated with the tackles, but shrugged them off before unleashing a rocket of a shot from an angle, which your humble scribe firmly believes he would have had (but then again, the Lions keeper believes a lot of weird shit). Anyway, in it went, the hapless JFC keeper not even getting close. He may not even have moved. 2-0 Lions.

With all this attacking football, the reader may be of the opinion that there was no need for defenders, but that is not true. JFC was left to chase the game, the Lions pertaining to the concept that possession is 9/10ths of the law, therefore they would lawfully hold on to the ball. On the occasion that there was no attacker in space, the ball was passed back, neatly switched to the opposite wing, from where another attack would be launched.

Kim Sun Il and Barras worked just fine together at the back, and the two full backs – without Hemingay who was late and much too gay to get changed because he thought (quite correctly) that he would get wet with the rain which was about to come down – also made space for the pass.

Ian came on, taking a little time to find his touch, but for a man who has been out of the game for well over a year, it must have been a good feeling to get back on to the pitch.

As the half wore on, the rain started to fall, and not just a sprinkling of summer showers, oh no, but in fact a torrential downpour, with thunder and lightning to accompany it. So it made the football a little more difficult, but still the Lions attacked, JFC hardly able to even get the ball, not given any opportunity to launch an attack of their own.

Alas the Lions were also not able to maintain control of the ball so much, and some players were guilty of holding on to the ball when releasing a nice little pass to the runners would have been the much better option. Pffff on the left wing was back to playing some nice football, although he tried to get a little cocky with a backheel which only just got to its intended recipient.

Don “Don’t call me Thomas” Dumbassini combined nicely with the midfield and went on some nice, mazy runs, but was unable to add to the Lions goal tally until the final minute of the half, when Ian put him through with a perfectly weighted pass for the aforementioned striker to tuck under the advancing keeper, 3-0 Lions.

And with that the referee decided he needed one of the Lions’ Sapporo beers, so he blew his whistle. It was also decided that the game should be abandoned, due to the pitch becoming more like the Keelung River than a football pitch.

The Lions cracked open the beers, drinking them quickly before they could get watered down. Mora – strangely enough – also appeared around this time. Uncanny how the man can sniff out a case of beers from 20 kilometres away. And despite carrying an umbrella, he did not escape getting soaked, mainly thanks to Jaime who decided that (a) it was a poofy umbrella anyway and (b) Mora should be rugby tackled to the ground.

With the abandonment of the match, the Lions and JFC have decided to have a rematch next weekend Sunday, at an earlier time of 11 AM to avoid the 3 PM rain showers.

Birthday Boy Barras – for failing to bring the required beers to the match itself – is expected to bring a nice amount of amber nectar to the next match in order to redeem himself.

The State has spoken.

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About Mao

Chairman Mao. The man who takes the Taipei Red Lions to new depths of corruption. Hands out more fines for more reasons than any man in history. Thinks he's a good keeper, but try sending in a cross for him to take. But he writes a mean match report. And even occasionally buys a round himself. And he keeps the Politburo in check.
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