The Taipei Red Lions shook off the blues of the CPL with a fine team performance against the Taiwan U18 team which left the trainer shocked. With plenty of players turning up, including Bryan and OG, Kim Sun Il, Jonny and Tetsu, this was far from the barebones squad the Lions had the previous weekend which saw them knocking on Jhubei’s door on the lookout for players.
The game saw the return of Clovis from his tour of the gay Americas (San Francisco, Texas, Laguna Beach and Panama), who, for reasons unknown and unfathomable to anyone with any hint of logic, made the starting line up. Having been chosen in the left midfield position, his first touch of the ball was a beautiful pass straight to the opposition. His second piece of action was a nasty foul as he tried to take out the guy he had just passed to. Captain “Oh Captain My Captain” Cooke had seen enough, and pulled him off the pitch after a mere 3 minutes, replacing him with the speedy and ever efficient Charles.
With the return of Barras to the Lions squad, it was expected that there would be some better organization within the Lions defensive ranks, and so it turned out to be. He was joined in the centre back role by Jaime, with Tetsu on the left and Jonny on the right. In midfield Thomas, Bryan and OG plied their trade in the middle, with OG running the show, covering almost every blade of grass on the well groomed and much improved Bai Ling pitch.
Bryan too was getting stuck in at every possible occasion, as the Lions played some beautiful football, running for every ball, and passing neatly to feet wherever possible. Fred up front was also looking for the ball, and – when he got it – laid it off nicely as the Lions looked to make the most of the few opportunities that they expected.
As usual, the Red Lions weak point – apart from Clovis – was in goal, and with the unavailability of Volker, Mao was once again chosen as goalkeeper. He almost made Chancy pay for this decision by nonchalantly trying to collect the ball with one hand, the ball finally trickling off for a corner.
He made up for it though shortly afterwards as a neat ball in split open the defence, and as the Taiwan U18 player rushed on to the pass, Mao rushed out, stayed big (which for a fat bastard like Mao isn’t all that difficult) and the attacker hit his shot which glanced of Mao’s head and over the bar.
Minutes after that, the Lions keeper was brought in to action once more, diving low at the feet of an oncoming attacker, then rushing back to his feet to collect the rebound.
But it was not all one way traffic, and the Lions threatened the Taiwan U18 goal on a couple of occasions, stunning the opponents by taking the lead as a ball was delivered in – your humble chronicler believes – from Bryan, with a stunning shot from a tight angle that beat the keeper and almost broke through the back of the net.
Barras and Jaime in defence were kept busy but both kept their cool well as the Lions looked to defend the lead, getting in some excellent, well timed tackles.
And having dealt with the Taiwan U-18’s attack, off went the Lions once more, Dumbass “Don’t call me Thomas” Costa dinked the keeper with a trademark cheeky chip to make it 2-0 Lions. Straight from the kick off, he could also have made it three, but got a tad too cocky, trying essentially the same trick which the keeper and defence combination this time managed to deal with.
Taiwan looked shell-shocked, and couldn’t wait for the half time whistle to blow, which the referee courteously did.
The second half …