Nam An FC Match Report

Somewhere in the depths of District 6 a middle-aged Vietnamese referee woke up to the sounds of cockerels and hooting trucks and felt a sense of excitement as the day begun. The night previous, he had washed his Fifa* referee garments in the sink and hung them to drip dry in a courtyard. The referee, poised for a day of drama, had fell asleep reading social media feeds about the Saigon Raiders. Fed up and forlorn, he put his Oppo A3 down and pondered how he would bring wrath upon the rising Phoenix that was the Saigon Raiders.

Across town, in Au Parc, four Raiders met for a light brunch to discuss politics, women, life choices and…women. All four Raiders sensibly filled their stomachs in preparation for the upcoming game against the Notorious Nam An FC. Earlier in the week, the coach of Saigon Raiders, Colin with one L, had the warned these four men and their teammates, that this was a real team who would offer us serious competition. At this point, Aron’s yogurt with several sliced strawberries arrived at the table. 45 minutes after ordering. Brunch is a game of two halves!

The a(four)mentioned Raiders arrived at Ky Hoa to meet the rest of the squad who seemed unfazed that Nam An FC were filming their own version of the classic Nike Brazilian football adverts. They were high on confidence clearly, but they didn’t have such a fine collection of supporters warming their benches, unlike that of the Raiders. Even Vince’s mum had joined. Wunderbar!

After a decent warm-up, the game kicked off at quite a pace. The rain bounced off the surface (of Mike’s head) and created a scene reminiscent of ‘Gorilla’s in the mist’.

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Some moments before Kick off, the referee’s assistants asked for the game plan. He pulled his inexperienced and untrained co-conspiracists to one-side and muttered the words, ‘No matter what happens, the Raiders get nothing from us, I will simply smile a wry smile and jog away from their pleas whilst shaking my head from side to side’ (in Vietnamese).

And in grand fashion, he proved eloquently consistent. Little did he know that, unlike brunch, his game would only consist of a single half.

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The game was a nervous affair for 20 minutes. Nam An took their Brazilian like flair onto the field and had the Raiders on the back foot. After a whirlwind start, the Raiders started to calm down and pass the ball to one another. Some nice passages of play through the middle with Nico and Jon lead to a couple of brief openings. Vince was doing his best to maraud down the right but the Raider’s free-flowing brand of football was yet to shine. Some yellow cards were picked up. Captain Olly’s was a tactical card that showed his willing sacrifice in order to protects his team’s defence 😉
Others were picked up for sneezing, adjusting shoe laces and bumping into others in close proximity.

Half time came at the right time.

Whilst the half time team talk centred around calmness and avoiding speaking to the Joker*…oops, the referee. The accused in question fled the pitch in tears. He had realised that all of his hate showered upon the Saigon Raiders had brought him little relief from the real troubles that plagued him internally. In a moment of clarity, he handed over his Fifa* kit (washed the previous night) to Hardy, close kin to the departing Laurel.

The second half of the game was much more like the 2nd half of brunch. More relaxed, more composed and more enjoyable. Aron had been fed and the team weren’t so hungry to tear the ref’s head from his torso.

The midfield started to dominate the game, shift the ball across the field and get in behind the opposition. In one great passage of play, Mike put a delicious pass into the path of Ben who took on one defender then delicately shossed it into the far corner of the goal. 1-0 Raiders. The team were starting to play.

*Shossed (shot + cross)

The Raiders had to defend mightily up until the last minute. One brave Raider, Jon, suffered an injury, forcing him off with a rolled ankle but was replaced by Magnus who steadily impacted on the game.

The team demonstrated great character rising above the rain, the Ref(s) and the genuine capabilities of the opposition.

Ben’s wonder shoss proved the decider in a close fought game. The Raider’s picked up 3 valuable points but also some valuable lessons from this match.

One lesson in particular. If you get fouled and you decide to stay down in the hope of a free kick, a warranted yellow card for the opposition and an intention to slow the game down (game management) to see out the victory, don’t assume everyone else understands the genuis plan. Turkey to the captain!

Fantastic win, great character and positive lessons to be learnt.

A special mention to Scott who defended extremely well all game as the opponents shifted towards a 4 man attack.

Congratulations to both Vince and Nicolas for their MoTM nominations; and well done to Nicolas for taking the honour. A fine performance in tough conditions.

Yellows and Turkeys for Olly, Scott, Mike, Vincent and Nicolas.

Onto the next one.

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