The day every AC Mundial player has been waiting for has arrived! With a huge player base to choose from, joint managers Boonk and YS were spoilt for choice, having to name a starting 11 from a plethora of talent. In the end, Alfie got the nod in goal due to his wealth of experience between the sticks. Twin monsters AJ and Nick take centre stage in defence, assisted by the speedy Joshua and the experienced Boonk at fullback. The worldclass midfield was made up of record summer signings Li Yu and Zhiwei, as well as AC stars Roy and Liyong. Upfront, the lethal partnership of Mick and James was preferred.
Playing together for the 1st time, the AC Mundial players took a while to settle in against a clearly experienced Schwarz Star(SS). And their worst fears were realized within seconds from kick off. A miscommunication amongst new teammates in the AC Mundial ranks allowed the skilful SS winger to waltz into the Mundial penalty box and the well taken shot was just too far, even for the acrobatic Alfie who’s flying dive missed the ball by inches.
True men don’t fall at the 1st hurdle. And AC Mundial was made of the truest of men!
After the shock goal, the team poured forward like a monsoon. Wave after wave of attacks, led primarily by the effervescent Zhiwei, threatened to tear the SS defence to shreds. Roy and Liyong’s searing pace created a host of chances, as did the overlapping fullback Boonk. But the SS defence just managed to keep them out.
The laying of the Great Wall of Schwarz Star in front of their goal did nothing to dampen the boys in blue. Mick’s telepathic understanding with his clubmate James continued to stretch the fast tiring SS defence but to no avail.
SS just could not clear their half. Midfield maestro Li Yu won every single battle in midfield, from goal kicks to challenges, distributing the ball with near faultless accuracy. But the absolute midfield dominance did not manage to breach SS’s 2-layer defensive wall.
Even Mick and AJ bashed their way forward in an attempt to bulldoze their way through. AJ especially, had a couple of half chances but could not get enough power behind to trouble the experienced SS keeper.
Team Captain Jaems was brought in to allow Alfie some outfield time. YS moved the pacy Joshua to midfield, allowing Alfie to sit in at leftback. That move triggered a series of amazing footwork as the new-found freedom gave Joshua licence to attack his opposite number at full trottle. Assisted by James’ clever runs, it’s a miracle the score remain unchanged after those few forays.
Halftime came way too soon for the pumped up AC Mundial team. YS attempted to shake up the team, bringing in the human destroyer Francis as defensive midfield cover to allow Li Yu and Zhiwei more offensive freedom. New signing Alvin was also brought on to add a new dimension to the already formidable Mundial forward pack.
The observant spectator would have noticed the SS team bringing in shovels into their defensive third during the break as they look to dig in with deep trenches. Wheelbarrows were also seen entering the field as they started to fortify their defensive walls with bricks and sandbags in anticipation of the expected offensive blitz from their star studded opponents.
Boy did Mundial not disappoint! The kick off whistle also doubled up as the last time SS would get near the ball for a while. The boys in blue passed the ball around like men possessed, looking for options, probing the opposition defence. Zhiwei and James combined well on several occasions to free Alvin on the right, but somehow, 1 of the 400 SS defenders always managed to cut the danger out.
With the turf being played to death in the SS half to no avail, Melvin came in to add a little guile in midfield.
Ad still the SS defence held firm. Jaems in goal was very much a spectator and he tried his best to give directions to his teammates from his superior vantage point.
The impasse lasted another 20 minutes before Boonk and Nick were both taken off within minutes of each other to throw on Roy and Liyong. A move that clearly spells out what the Mundial gaffer is looking for. It almost paid off when a sizzling move by Alvin on the right resulted in an in-swinging cross into the SS box. Melvin’s diving header was just a fraction too late, with the defence hacking the ball into safety.
James and Mick both had a handful of half chances, as did Francis. But at the end of the day, a solitary goal was all that was needed to give SS the opening fixture.
Full credits to Schwarz Star, who took their goal well and defended like Spartans.
AC Mundial though, should be far from disappointed. If on the opening day, with 90% of the team playing together for the first time, they are already passing the ball and dominating like they did, it would be interesting to see them after they have gelled as a team!
Viva La Mundial!