|Singing in the rain|
Note: I've managed to lose my phone today so a) anyone calling or texting, please don't think I'm ignoring you and b) yesterday's team is from memory, sorry if it's wrong.
Perhaps we've finally earned that 'miracle' tag. Not that any special brand of magic was required to beat Samut Prakan Customs, even with respect to their large support, good resources and decent track record in the lower league. No, yesterday's special show came from a really good display of attacking football in terrible conditions.
So bad was the thunder, lightning and downpour that kick off was delayed until 2015. Our pitch - the one we spent 10 million baht on for a "drainage system" - looked every bit as bad as last season's version. I tell you, somewhere on a beach in Bermuda is a businessman sipping Sangria and laughing his head off at us over that deal.
|10 Million baht drainage?|
Calisto did exactly the right thing and played an almost exclusively reserve side for this one, so we started out with Weera (GK), Arthit (RB), Diarra (CB), Nattaporn (Capt. , CB), ??? (RB), Jakkapaphan (LW), Pitchipong (MD), Buntao (MD), Issoufau (RW), Arromsowa (MD), Ahnon (ST)
MTU scored first through Nattaporn in a goal that I really couldn't see through the watery haze from the opposite end . Facing from the n-zone, the left side of our pitch near the half way line had a bog in it, creating farcical football whenever the ball landed near it. Elsewhere the ball simply would not glide and players had to kick low and upwards to dig the ball out of the swamp. Such conditions inevitably favour the underdog and SPCU equalised through Ngassem (I think) who found the ball with a header inside the six yard box. A rare moment of rage from Nattaporn occured later. From my end it looked like he shoved the ref, if anyone can clarify, I'd be grateful.
The rain picked up again and it was a surprise that players even turned up for the second half. Siaka had already replaced an injured Arrommsawa late in the first half and immediately opened up more options for the champs. Issoufau had looked like a man with a point to prove all first half, tearing down the wing and cutting inside his markers every time. His reward came with a headed goal from a Jakkaphan cross early on after the break. Jakkaphan scored a neat free-kick from the left of the goal just outside the box to make it three-one not long after.
We needed to get one more to really kill the game off and it came with some superb football down the water-logged right side of the pitch. Dagno set up for Issoufau, the winger saw Ahnon entering the box and I was sure he'd attempt a cross. Instead, he looked up and guided the ball over the goalie into the top-right corner of the net from an awkward angle. Excellent goal, not just for the finish but that he even thought to attempt it at a time when he's been receiving criticism. Late substitute Toth deserved a goal for his superb dribble around three men, but his power-shot was tipped over.
So it finished 4-1 on a dark, rainy, water-logged night in front of a small crowd barmy enough to brave the elements for a low-key cup game. The only downside was another poor performance from Ahnon, who looked like he'd struggle to score on Sukhumvit soi 1 despite being selected in the WC qualifying squad earlier the same day. Fans dispersed after 10pm and I doubt many got home before 11pm and most will be up early for work today, but they'll be smiling.
Man of the match:
Several contenders here. Buntao looked lively and alert all game and struck a sweet volley that was well saved. Jakkaphan created one and scored another, Dagno really looked a cut above the rest of the players and showed his close control even in awful conditions. But MOTM has to go to Bobubacar Issoufou, who looked ready to stay and fight for his place and deserved both his goals. Even allowing for the lowly opposition, he looked good. Has it come to late or will management now reconsider his "loan" to Suphanburi? This season's "hit or miss?" debate is now wide open once again.
All photo credits: JoEisM ณ เมืองทอง