FC Irlande 4ths

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On a stormy day, with a sticky, cut up pitch, the fourth’s succumbed to a humbling 2-0 defeat against Patjes, a team placed one ahead of them in the league table. The result ended a remarkable 10-game unbeaten run for the fourths, spanning back to 23 November. Irlande did legitimately have the ball over the line in the second half, but the referee ruled against the Greens for the second time in 2 home games. Man of the match, returning from Argentina the hour before kick off, Santi Vanni.

4ths went to 5th place in the league level on points  at the start of the day. On a 3G pitch, and with a full squad, we were confident of victory, and that confidence proved to be well placed. After an even start to the game, Juan opened the score and his personal account for the day 20 min into the half, courtesy of a Manu pass. Birthday boy Ben should have seen red for a professional foul late on as last man, but the ABSSA carmic forces repaid our terrible luck last week. Second half, Ireland dominated, with Juan rattling the bar before adding his second from the tightest of angles. Then after good play down the right from Manu, a sumptuous ball to Juan allowed him to convert the third. A late consolation came for the opposition, to Alex’s personal ire, but overall a good sendout for Arne, today’s captain. Only negatives were a knee injury to Nick and a potentially serious hand injury for back up GK Benoit…fingers crossed he is cleared for next week against 3rd in the league 😬

4ths left frustrated by 2 shitty calls from the ref to halt their winning run. After going a goal down to the elements in the first half, 4ths dominated the second half, eventually levelling the score through Hugo. Throwing all but the kitchen sink at the opposition, we thought we had the breakthrough goal with 5 mins to go, but the ref ruled out a goal bundled into the net after a corner, for a handball only he saw. Then, as the opposition made a rare break over the halfway line, the ball broke to the Greens in the middle and a throughball put Nick in 1 in 1 with the goalkeeper…alas, the referee again intervened in favour of the away team, for an ‘offside’ run that began in the home team’s half…

MoM Hugo

The Fourth team of FC Irlande headed out to Woluwe for ABSSA Division 4’s evening kick-off of the 20th round of fixtures. The television crews were out in force, and the foyer of the Leisure Centre was abuzz with hype, as the Division’s form side travelled to the relegation strugglers, undefeated since 23 November, and looking to make it 13 points from a possible 15 available in 2020.

Wily Woluwe were no pushovers – they had already taken a point from the Boys in Green earlier in the season, and on home soil (there really wasn’t much grass to speak of), they started off like a team with a confidence that belied their lowly league position. By contrast, Irlande, forced into a bit of a reshuffle by a mounting defensive injury crisis, started shakily, with a midfield of Thomas and Benoit taking a while to settle into the muddy centre of the park.

After a relatively defensive opening 15 minutes, Irlande suffered another casualty, as Alex – deputising at centre back in the absence of the girlfriend-duty-bound Santi, and Roman, whose ankle is still the size of 2 pregnant women – charged into a tackle with all the ferocity of a fuming Fenian frothing at the thought of a Sinn Féin victory, and cleaned out David in the process (‘that’ll learn you for supporting Fine Gael’ Alex could be heard uttering under his breath). Suffering a blow to the head that caused consternation among the ranks, David was sacrificed for Fran.

Irlande’s best chance of the opening half came when Manu was felled in the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Manu bounced up to take the ball, and stepped up, sent the keeper the wrong way – but put the ball wide of the mark. Juan later spurned a few snap shots, struggling with the sloppy pitch. Was it to be another of those days?

The boys in green began more strongly in the second half, as that post-Christmas fitness work in training continues to pay dividends. The Greens began to assert more authority, and Juan had another few chances, as he continued to struggle to find his radar. The best of these came from an absolute delight of a through ball from some guy on the left wing, which cut the defence in two, and left Juan with just the keeper to beat. He tried to round said keeper, but alas, it wasn’t to be a 5th assist in 3 games for the passer.

Then, a few minutes later, Juan got in down the left, and wriggled and danced his way past the defence, taking a shot at a narrow angle. The keeper got a foot to it, but the ball trickled out to Hugo, who applied the finish from the tightest of angles, much to the surprise of Felix, who already had his head in his hands, anticipating the miss. Goal 2 of the season for Hugo, and boy was it an important one. Buoyed by taking the lead, Irlande pressed for the second to finish the contest. But a rare break by the Wily Woluwe led to a near miss – Ben putting the ball behind at the near post. The resulting corner went into the middle of the box; headed out by Benoit, who was a beast in the air all day – but it fell to an attacker on the edge of the box, who struck a volley straight into the corner. For the nth time this year, Irlande’s defence was breached by the luckiest of strikes. Seriously, how many time can these 4th division guys hit the target with a first time volley? Answer: Once a season, against FCI IV. It really wasn’t looking like Irlande’s day.

But if at first, you don’t succeed…you just keep on trying until that fucking ball goes in. Just ask Juan, who, with less than 15 minutes to go, finally registered the goal that his performance merited, off a pass from an impressive late entrant to the fray, Giuseppe. Giuseppe could have had a second assist on the day too, if that sack of shit playing left wing hadn’t totally scuffed the shot when bearing down on the goal.

Juan wasn’t quite done there though. With time running out and Irlande holding on to their one goal lead, Juan chase down a ball and was dancing his way to nowhere, when a defender rather clumsily knocked him to the ground inside the box. Referee points to the spot for the second time of the day for Irlande – like London buses, these penalty awards.

This sparked a bit of furore about who would take it, with Manu magnanimously giving it up to the guy wearing the captain’s armband, who also fought of pleas from new father Thomas to take it. Juan then took the ball and reminded everyone he had won the penalty, before Manu intervened and it was decided that Nick would indeed step up. Taking a 2-step run up and wrong-footing the goalkeeper, Nick made up for his earlier poor shots and converted a penalty (rather closer to the middle of the goal than initially intended, he would later admit).

3-1 final score, and the winning run continues. Depleted numbers of Fours were to be later found in Funky, drowning themselves in Prosecco to celebrate a hard day at the office. Come on the boys!

Goals: Hugo, Juan, Nick
Subs: Fran for David, Giuseppe for Hugo
MoM: Juan

FCI4 with a late smash and grab 2-0 victory against a very feisty and aggressive opponent. After a sticky and difficult first half, FCI4 started to assert their authority in the second half, forcing their keeper into action with a few good stops. The third of these led to the breakthrough, as a corner taken from the left by Nick was headed away back to the taker, who saw his opportunity to take a swing with the right foot. To great avail as it swerved and dipped under the giant keeper’s bar for 1-0. Barely 2 mins later, a frustrated opponent gave away yet another free kick just inside their own half, which Nick floated to the far post, for Costi to convert first time. 2-0 final score. MOTM Santi.

4ths took on an opponent who had somehow stolen a point from us at their place earlier in the season, seeking revenge. Within 15 min that revenge was gained, with Felix slipping Nick in down the inside left channel, who turned away from a defender and squared a delightful ball across the box for Juan to tap in his first. Barely 5 min later, a poor clearance from the keeper found Nick, who cushioned it to Juan, who smartly shot first time into the open goal from midway in the oppositions half. 2-0. But Juan wasn’t finished their, latching on to a long ball over the top from Nick, to earn a hattrick for both of them. Second half proved more of a challenge, and the Greens lost it 1-0 after a silly foul on the edge of the box was duly crossed in and dispatched. Final score 3-1. MoM Giuseppe. 6 games without defeat for the 4s.

So, it began, yet another trip to the middle of nowhere in Belgium. Hungry as ever to continue the good form, the Greens were ready for another battle to add 3 more points to the table. This time, we faced Virginal ASF. Despite beating them 6-1 at Nossegem earlier in the season, we were taking nothing for granted this time around.

Upon arriving at the pitch, we quickly realised another obstacle: the pitch. The Belgian Tourist Board is seriously missing a trick in the fact that this country has its very own Mount Everest.  As shown by Judas in the photo (his poor attempt at “team bonding”) the team at the base of the mountain would come in for a hounding.

Strapping on the hiking boots and playing uphill in the first half, Virginal showed us that they would not be pushovers. Seconds after kick-off, Virginal took advantage of poor defending, which included yours truly, and slotted the ball into the corner of Matteo’s sanctuary. Having dealt with an early blow, and not for the first time this season, the Boys did not let this define the afternoon. Rather than dropping the heads, the Boys showed courage and immediately attacked. Manu demonstrating his close technique, dribbled up the mountain, past the Virgins and expertly struck the ball into the net. Despite a great response from the Boys, Virginal again took the lead from kick-off. Hitting the ball downhill, the oncoming striker rode past the defence and put the ball out of Matteo’s reach.

Three kick-offs in the first 10 mins weren’t new for FCI IV this season, unfortunately. Unlike the previous actions, FCI IV did not score from the next kick-off. The Boys were made to work and fight together. Keeping possession and using the ball wisely, FCI IV calmed down and were now playing football, despite the state of the pitch.  Mario, demonstrating his skill, controlled the midfield and was key in FCI IV’s attacking play throughout his time on the pitch. Running past the majority of Virginal, Mario’s shot took a deflection off a player and ended up in the net. 2-2. An eruption of emotion from FCI IV both on the pitch and bench. We wanted the win more than Virginal and would fight more to get it.

Better structure, cover and communication throughout the team gave Virginal little space to attack and restricted their play, despite playing downhill. Good exchanges in their half led to Mario squaring the ball in the box to Juan which ended in Ireland taking the lead for the first time in the game.  Fired up, everyone gave 110% to ensure that the lead stayed until halftime.

Playing downhill in the second half meant that we would have more opportunities to extend our lead. Controlling the game now, a more solid-looking FCI IV was not letting Virginal have space to pass or keep the ball. Pouncing on a ball, like a lion, Juan took his chance, as always, and double his goal tally for the game.

Mario continued the 2nd half like the 1st. Mirroring Ronaldinho in his prime, Mario strolled past all the Virgins showing his skill, making them wet in the process, and scoring the 5th for FCI IV. To make sure that his ego didn’t become too inflated, Martinho entered the field in his place and played in front of the defence just as Casemiro does for Real.

Despite playing better in the 2nd half, Virginal scored their 3rd goal direct from a free kick. The ball hitting the under-side of the crossbar and dropping over the line.

Competing for the goal of the game comes from Mihai’s spectacular effort. Cannibalising on a loose ball at the halfway line, he noticed the Virginal keeper off his line, admiring Mount Everest. Stroking a lovely ball, à la Wayne Rooney, it fell out of the sky and into the net.

6-3 game over. And breath.

Despite starting poorly, the Boys showed fight and persistence. In spite of Virginal’s place in the league, this was a tough game and a needed win. Fighting on a quagmire and against elements, the result showed that the Boys were not ready to lay down against the Virgins.

MOM- Mario

Goals:

Juan x2

Manu

Mihai

Mario

OG

Subs:

Roberto for David

Nick for Giuseppe

Mihai for Roman

Martin for Mario

Roma was not built in a day, but there is a day when its building started – 21 April 753. The same can be said for Fc Irlande IV – of course with the different proportions. The battle at the Nosseghem field was definitely more epic than the birth of Romolo and Remo. Not to tell about the ending, with one of the brother killing the other: despite some discrepancies on the line up, we seem not running this risk. All this to say that yes it was just a well played 1 – 1 game, but maybe for the first time Fc Irlande IV showed awareness and proudness of being part of the same thing.

Not by chance this ‘awareness’ or team building moment happened facing the best team of the league – ranking speaking. Anderlecht Lemmens came not only as first class team, but also with the tranquillity given by the embarrassing 7 – 0 obtained in the previous round against the boys in green. At that time these boys were probably not yet aware of being a team.

No big headache for coach Nick to come up with a line up given the very limited options available in this first match of 2020 – 11 on the pitch and 2 subs, the main concern was in finding a referee as Abssa missed the occasion to provide one. The gentleman agreement to accept a volunteer did not last long and throughout the match the poor guy had to manage situations at the edge of far west: special mention to the ‘casual referee’ patience, firmness and quality of judgments – was definitely not easy.

The match: as foreseen Anderlecht showing intensity and as a result arriving two times close to score but found good opposition in Irlande’s boots and gloves. Surprise at around min 15: great long ball from Mario, first shoot stopped by the keeper, tap in from Manuel and 1 – 0 for the green battalion. Adversary keeper ko in the meantime and big injection of self-esteem for Fc Irlande.

The rest of the game was basically played out of the boxes, with incredible intensity in midfield and on every single ball. Let’s take this occasion to render glory to individual players before memories fade away. Matteo kept the team alive when needed at the beginning; Fran on the left back, man of the match by acclamation; Ben and Santi ferociously attentive; David who put his legs on every clash – and luckily had the legs back at the end; Benoit ran furiously from left to right accompanied by Alex who was doing the same plus shouting to the others to do the same; Giuseppe and Hugo grounded kilometres on their respective side; Manu and Mario protecting the balls as a precious treasury; Max and Martin bringing in fresh energies when needed.

Fc Irlande only missed the precision to score the second goal, and got the lesson that when playing against a team determined to keep first position that’s a big missing. So in the end was 1 – 1, with a bitter sweet smile taken away from the pitch. Fourth match in a row without lost games, a sense of still something incomplete. Again: Rome was not built in a day.

Goal: Manuel
Yellow card: Manuel
MoTM: Francisco
Sub: Max for Hugo; Martin for Giuseppe

The 4s finished the year with a comfortable 4-1 victory in difficult conditions. The first time we have strung 2 victories together all season, and it arrives at a perfect time to give us a feel good factor into the new year. Manu and Juan with a brace each are in a rich vain of scoring form, which sums up the team’s collective upturn in recent weeks. Onwards and upwards, with the top half of the league in our sights.

FCI4 put Neptune to the sword in a performance that was finally worthy of our potential. Having lost to these guys unjustly at home earlier in the season, it was time to take revenge, and the lads duly delivered, with a host of chances in the first half courtesy of great football and pace on the flanks that the opposition couldnt handle. After a few near misses, Manu showed us how it us done after latching on to a through ball and calmly slotting home. Minutes later, he became provider to Juan who would become hattrick hero later in the day. Manu then scored a third, in a carbon copy of the first. Early in the second half, Benoit latched onto a corner to net the 4th, before Juan piled on the misery for the hapless opposition with a rebounded fifth. Nick got in on the act for the 6th, and Juan rounded things off with the 7th and his third of the day. Good day at the office, epitomised by Felix’s barnstorming MoM performance at left back. Relief and delight in equal measure 👍🏻

Frustrating 1-1 draw for Ireland. Took the lead through a deflected shot from Nick midway through first half, but couldn’t get the second the play deserved. An equaliser was conceded midway through the second half, and despite much huffing and puffing, Ireland’s perennial problem of failing to create clear cut chances was their undoing. 2 points dropped. MoM Santi

Miserable day for the 4s as 2 defensive errors cost us dear in an otherwise winnable fixture. Highlight was first goal for Hugo – with his head.

4ths lost 2-3 against 2nd place opponents. We went 0-1 down after 5mins and the 1st half was challenging against good opponents and a hill but our heroic gk kept us in the game. After a reorganisation and substitutions at half time, Irlande stepped back out with renewed vigour. A penalty won by Juan and converted by Manu for 1-1 got us back in the game. A couple of errors unfortunately let the opposition in for 2 soft goals before Irlande fought back and scored from a corner. Despite lots of late pressure we couldn’t quite find the equaliser we deserved.

  • On a sunny November afternoon, it was a beautiful day to bask in the glory of a comprehensive victory. After a first half that promised much but delivered no results, it took only minutes in the second for the Greens to open the score courtesy of Manu, finishing off a fine move. It was soon 2, then 3, then 4, Juan conpleting his hattrick in very quick time. A fifth rounded off the scoring, with Juan profiting from some dodgy defensive work. The best goal came from the opponent, however with a looping 40 yard drive deceiving Matteo to soil the clean sheet, the only blot on an otherwise all round great team performance.
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4ths lost 7-2 today in a game that we should forget very fast. 3 individual mistakes lead to 3 goals in the first 10 mins. The opponent enjoyed every mistakes from us to score. They had a perfect first half. We had a moment where we fought back and annoyed them with 2 beautiful goals from Juan 7-2 is a bit too much but the opponent was clinical, efficient and deserved their victory. Motm juanito, obviously

4ths dominated possession and camped in the opposition’s territory for much of the game, but were struck with a sucker punch in the first half when a rare attack into the ireland half resulted in a tidy finish from the edge of the box. A change in formation in the second half brought more joy for the greens in carving openings, but an in-form keeper largely kept them at bay, until a shot from the edge was spilled into Juan’s path for the equaliser. The Greens pushed for the victory, but it wasn’t to be. Final score 1-1. MoM Santiago Vanni

Matchday 6 vs Nivelles CS 1: Balls and Glory

It is fair to say that after 5 games, the season was shaping up to be rather frustrating for FCI 4. A majority of good performances that had ended in disappointing results had left us floundering in 11th out of 14, skirting the relegation places.
Heading out to the ass-crack of Wallonian countryside to meet the day’s opponent – made exclusively of candidates for village idiot of the year, as it would later become apparent – the message was clear. It is time to take charge of our season and shape our own destiny.

An amazing bout of injuries towards the end of the week eliminated 5 guys from the selection, which led the boys in green to line up in a 4-3-1-2 shape reminiscent of last season. From the off, the lads were at it, with possession being recovered direct from kick-off. Juan received the ball, and played a perfectly weighted through ball for the overlapping Nick, who was sprinting through on the left side of the defence. Alone and approaching the box, he took a touch and fired a thunder bolt to the top-right corner of the goal, but the goalkeeper showed he was alert and equal to it, getting up to tip away for a corner, 30 seconds in. The gauntlet was thrown down.
The Greens proceeded to hassle and harry their opponent high up the pitch, setting up camp in their half, and refusing to be moved. A few minutes later, Nick turned away from two players, before pulling a cut-back to the edge of the box, where Benoit lay in wait, ready to shoot, but just wide.

Another break down the left came as the high press continued to pay dividends, with Nick pulling the ball back to the penalty spot for Juan, who was in – but a bad contact with an under-inflated ball on his weaker left foot saw the ball sail over the bar. Juan would get in a further twice in the early exchanges, to be thwarted by the keeper on one occasion, and to knock the ball over the bar on another. Was it to be another unlucky day for FCI 4?
Not quite. In a role reversal of the previous attacks, Juan found himself in space on the left-side of the box, and proceeded to round the goalkeeper. His touch took him away from goal, so he chipped the ball back across the box, where Nick was waiting to pounce on an empty net. However, the last defender stuck out his hand and slapped the ball away in a kamikaze act. Penalty. Up stepped Alex, with blood as icy has his blue-eyed stare, and duly dispatched the penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way. 1-0, just before half time.

The second half proved to be a different affair, with an opponent becoming ever more frustrated at their utter impotence, and their complaints to the referee, as well as their on-field conduct, deteriorating as the match went on. FCI 4 responded to the new conditions, set up in two banks of 4, and dug in. The opponent wanted to fight, but we wanted only to win. Ignoring all of the attempts to draw us into their nonsense, Ireland focused only on holding the lead. Then, playing on the counter, Benoit played a ball worthy of his number 11 jersey from the right wing, which Juan did well to get on the end of. One-on-one with the goalie, Juan finally got the reward his efforts deserved, with a ricocheted shot bouncing over the line to make it 2-0, and give Ireland a cushion.

The match continued in the same pattern as it had begun in the second half, with Nivelles trying to break down the Irish defences, to little avail. Then, Lorenzo, who had earlier entered for Ben, who himself had put in a solid display deputising in the midfield, did what he does best. He chased down a lost cause, pressing all the way back to the keeper, who panicked and smashed the ball straight into Lorenzo’s on-rushing torso. The ball looped perfectly over the goalkeeper and into the empty net for 3-0. A delightful goal that epitomised the hard work and effort that our team is all about.

Shortly thereafter, the final whistle sounded on the second victory of the season for the boys in green, and boy did it feel good. Against a rough opponent who wanted to draw us in to a fight, football prevailed, and everyone can be proud that we let the football do the talking and walked away with our heads held high and 3 points in the bag – a victory that saw us climb 5 places in the table. Now the next challenge is to build some momentum, with back-to-back wins next week. Let’s keep up the fight and take what we deserve.

Man of the Match: Roman (not Alex)

Goals (assists): Alex (p), Juan (Benoit), Lorenzo (the oppo goalie)

Subs: Lorenzo (Ben); Francisco (Thomas)

The Green Army arrived at Mousses Tachent in high spirits after the 6-1 victory against Virginal ASF the week before. The usual reggaeton laced playlist was on full blast in the changing toom as the Boys prepared for the next battle. It was a key chance to prove to ourselves and show the rest of the league the result of the prior result was no one-off and that the real Green Army had arrived.

After a good warm-up on a crop circle infested pitch, the boys were ready to smash and grab 3 points from the game and move to the top end of the league table. However, the game began with the opposition hitting the post after the opposition’s speed demon burst past the line. Despite this momentary scare, Irlande took control of the game, pressed high and refused to leave the opposition’s half.

There was good interplay between all of the attackers. Alex and Nick were on the same wavelength playing on the right side of the pitch, while Manu, Benoit, and Hugo dominating play on the left. The high press allowed Roberto and Felix to join the attack to cause more headaches for Mousses Tachent.

This play led to the best chances for Irlande in the first half. Three consecutive corners in the space of three minutes led to the opposition’s post shaking. Benoit striking the post and Nick’s headed effort being tipped onto the underside of the crossbar. Daoine mí-ámharach!

As the whistle blew for halftime, Irlande regrouped for a quick team talk. Spirits were high and the determination had not waned.

The Green Army began the second half strongly again. High press and plenty of communication (!). Despite the positive start, Mousses Tachent was first to draw blood. A clever dink from a midfielder over the top was enough for the speed demon to latch onto, run to our goal and clinically put the ball into the bottom corner. Pippo Inzaghi would have been proud of the finish.

The reaction from Irlande was great. The heads did not drop and the thirst and the anger was there to go and attack. Mirroring the first half, the Irlande dominated possession and pressed high yet again. Clever play again from the attackers allowed the Green Army to create space and play lovely football (cerca Ireland 1994 World Cup vs. Italy).

Irlande was awarded a freekick. Standing over the ball, was Alex “David Beckham” Redmond™. Contemplating for a few minutes about how to play the freekick (a la The Thinker), he struck the ball, bending into the corner. He must have been watching the majestical Bend It Like Beckham on repeat the night before. The roars emerged from Irlande who knew that we could go on and win.

Determined and hungry as ever, Irlande continued to play as from the first whistle. Not giving the opposition a chance to breathe, creating space and calling for the ball. Moments later, Alex “David Beckham” Redmond™ saw his name in the headlines and struck the ball from outside the penalty box. It lifted and flew towards the corner of the goal. Unfortunately, a gust of wind must have dragged it slightly over and hit the crossbar! Zut! As time ticked away, a winner was beginning to look unlikely. A scream of frustration from the team was heard when the ref blew for full time.

Despite drawing, the performance was extremely encouraging. People speaking to each other, finding space, fighting for each other and playing some great football. Another result that did not reflect the play and effort from every single person. We should be proud of the performance and know that once the tide turns our way, we will be looking towards the top of the league.

Score: 1-1

Goal: Alex

MoM- Roberto

There is nothing quite like a 7-0 drubbing to focus minds. After the debacle of the week before, the collective of the Green Army came back to their home ground a wounded animal. The atmosphere in the dressing room was tense, as the message was passed that we owe it to ourselves to show our true colours this week. That colour is green.

Winning the toss, the Greens elected to play down the hill and with the wind in the first half. From the off, the Greens were at it. Robbing the ball from kick off, they tore into the opposition half, Nick slipping a ball through to Juan in the box – but his touch took him away from goal and the chance resulted only in a corner.

Shortly after, however, disaster struck, as Virginal sprung up the other end, and a shot from the edge of the box was scrambled away by Benoit, deputising for our absent gato, Matteo between the sticks. The rebound fell to the attacker following in, who managed to convert from a tight angle. 0-1.

Heads didn’t drop in the Green camp, however. Cries of encouragement rallied the team from the restart, and it didn’t take long before Irlande was back on terms. Some nice play saw Juan get in behind the right side of the defence, and in a move that epitomised the collective spirit on the day, he unselfishly squared the ball to Manu, turning down the opportunity to try himself, and Manu duly converted into the empty net, to screams of delight from the entire team. 1-1. We were in business.

Buoyed by the goal, Irlande spent most of the rest of the half camped in Virginal territory, choking the supply lines from defence to midfield with a strong press led by Hugo, Juan and Manu. In a demonstration of this, Hugo robbed his man of the ball from a goalkick, set Nick on his way down the left. A poor cross was met with a poor clearance, which Alex collected, and proceeded to dance and shimmy between 3 players on the edge of the box, as though he was playing the game at a different speed to the rest (credit to Ben for his reggaeton-laden playlist, perhaps?). In another demonstration of putting the team above individual glory, he turned down the chance to shoot, instead laying the ball on to Manu, in acres of space from 12 yards out, who just doesn’t miss those chances. 2-1. The Greens were buzzing.

We weren’t done yet, however. With half time approaching, the Greens again jumped on Virginal inside their own half, robbing them of possession. The ball was passed to Nick in space about 25 metres out. With no sign of pressure coming from the defenders, he moved forward before shifting the ball onto his right, picking his spot with a low drive into the far corner. 3-1. This was ours for the taking, as the half time whistle sounded.

The second half began, predictably, with a counter surge from Virginal, now kicking down the hill and with the wind. The next goal was to be crucial. Despite surviving a few scares and keeping Benoit occupied with a few silly free kicks on the edge of the box, that goal was to be ours.

Juan, ever busy chasing scraps from the back line, wrestled with his defender, showing great footwork to get away from his man, who pulled him back desperately. Juan took the resulting free kick, which was poorly gathered by the goalkeeper. Nick was on hand to capitalise from the slip, and snaffled in the rebound to bag a brace. 4-1. Game over now?

Not quite, as the Celtic Tiger could smell blood now, and went in for the kill. Continuing the high press with the introduction of fresh legs in Fabian and Lorenzo, Irlande was again able to capitalise on a keeping mistake, when Juan pressed him on the ball, and his footwork failed him, giving Juan the easiest tap-in to open his account for the new season. Delightful 5-1.

With its paw now on the Virginal neck, the Tiger duly snuffed out his prey with one final blow. Hugo, who had put in a brave-hearted performance chasing lost causes all game, was sent away in behind the right-back who he skinned for pace. Surely battling his own inner urge to shoot, and ignoring cries for him to do so from teammates, he served up the sixth on a silver platter for Juan, who couldn’t miss, and bagged a brace for himself, too. 6-1, and yet another great team goal.

The final whistle blew, and the Tiger roared with glorious delight. This was lift-off for our season.

Matchday 3 vs Anderlecht Lemmens: Fire and Fury

After a tough beginning to the season with promise not rewarded by points, FCI 4 headed to the south of the city for their first away encounter. Buoyed by the beautiful weather and the prospect of a match on synthetic, the lads arrived in good spirits.

However, the initial cheer did not last beyond the warm up. Winning the toss would prove to be the biggest positive that the boys in green could take from the match, as a farcical beginning morphed into a calamitous collapse.

Opting to change ends following the coin toss in order to avoid playing directly into the sun in the first half, it was the irony of all ironies that a long, hopeful ball punted forward by the Lemmens direct from the kick-off would lead to a comedic defensive mix-up, which their striker would duly profit from. Three kicks in, Irlande was 1-0 down.

A glimmer of hope that Irlande might get back into the game came shortly after, with some nice interplay setting Nick away down the right, who paced the left-back before attempting a cross with his right that was sneaking under the bar before the keeper intervened. Mihai’s subsequent corner landed at the feet of Costi, but unable to overpower a melée of defenders, the chance passed Irlande by.

That glimmer was soon snuffed out, however. With the Irish all at sea, the Lemmens overpowered the midfield and waded around the milky challenges of a makeshift back four. A cross came in from the Irlande left, and was met with a header at the back of the box for 2-0.

With heads beginning to drop at the prospect of a long afternoon chasing shadows, the proverbial salt was rubbed in Irlande’s wounds, as an unstoppable drive from 30 metres out flew into the top corner for 3-0. The Lemmens were flying. Irlande were sinking.

At this point, the game ceased to be a football match. It became a war zone, as a demoralised and shell-shocked Irlande retreated further and further back towards their defensive line, with shots flying in from all angles as they were outflanked and outgunned. Another, speculative shot from range, far less accurately placed than the previous screamer, found its way into the net. 4-0.

Irlande’s rickety defences were soon breached again in a kamikaze act of friendly-fire, as the trickster on the left wing left Thomas in a heap, before attempting a cut back that ricocheted unkindly off Benoit’s outstretched shin and beyond the hapless keeper into the near corner. 5-0.

The half time whistle provided some reprieve for the stunned Green Army. Lemmens’ triangular passing game had shocked and awed in equal measure.

After some time to regroup, the message from Captain Steiner was simple: we can’t do any worse – so let’s do better. A much more compact midfield helped to stem the flow of the Lemmens attacks. Nonetheless, the Lemmens wingers were able to breach the flanks again, and a man in orange found himself one-on-one with Emre. He tucked it past Emre, where a teammate of his was on hand to fire in the empty net. ‘Offside!’ the Greens appealed. ‘Goal stands’, the ref signalled. 6-0.

The game became a slightly more even affair thereafter, as the Irish focused on breaking up the midfield. One final kick in the teeth was to come however. The referee, who showed about as much charity for the Irish cause as a Black and Tan, whistled for a foul from an outstandingly clean slide tackle from our man of the match in waiting, Arne. The ref waved away the Irish protests, and the Lemmen stepped up to bury a bullet in the Irish net from close range. 7-0.

With little further ado, the final whistle sounded on a scarring day for FCI 4. This battle was lost, but the war goes on. With 23 games to go, there is no time for wallowing in our PTSD. We dust ourselves off, drive ourselves on and go again in search of 3 points next week. COYBIG

SUBS: Gera for Costi (50); Martin for Mihai (57).

MoM: Arne

It was supposed to be an happy afternoon for FCI4.

Everything was set up for us to have a nice day and a first win this season.

Sunny weather, 15 motivated players, our Spanish guys being late at schuman (Juanito. What a surprise!) or at nosseghem (Mario. What a surprise!). It started in a very normal way.

We only still need to get used to have good music in the changing room (thanks Ben for that!! Thanks David for being away!!).

We decided to play in a  4-2-3-1 formation.

In the goal, the best keeper of the division. In defense, the german wall. In the middle, the come-back of our Kaiser. In attack, a lot of quality and technical skills. And in the bench, strength and power.

We had absolutely everything to destroy and take our revenge over Neptune.

It is very frustrating to write the game report this week. For 2 reasons. The first one is that the level of last week report by Alex will be difficult to reach. The 2nd one is that I know the end of the story…

It is very frustrating because FCI4 played an excellent first half! We have been extremely solid and very dangerous. Neptune just didn’t exist during this first half and they got very lucky to still be alive with only 1 goal conceded after 35 mins.

FCI4 tried to play good football with simple pass, technical quality, motivation, fighting spirit. It was very enjoyable to be part of it!

Nick created a lot of danger on the right side of the attack and got a very good opportunity stopped by the keeper.

Juanito was making crazy Neptune’s central defenders and almost scored twice thanks to 2 great assists from Mario.

Mario almost scored after a nice volley from outside of the box (similar volley as the one from Thomas last weekend. But a bit less sexy and beautiful!).

2 other important things have improved in our team compared to the 1st game of the season:

1)     Our throw-ins have been much better (for you Felix…)

2)     Alex’s panic attacks when being in the box are now over!!

In the middle of the first half, we all had a “deja-vu” when, after a nice corner from Nick, the defense of Neptune didn’t know what to do and how to clear the ball. The ball finished 2 meters far from the goal line and….Alex was there! Man, we are 11 of us on the pitch and the stupid ball decided to end up in front of Alex! Why Alex?? Please, choose someone else!!

And here comes the surprise: Alex moved!! Alex reacted!! Alex scored!!

1st goal of the season for FCI4.

1st goal of the season for Alex.

1st goal since….ufffff a very long time scored by an irish player for FCI 4 (the other 2 irish being David and Ben….imagine :p).

FCI4 leading 1-0 and it was totally deserved!

Matteo, really bored in his goal, was looking at FCI4 trying to double the score before the end of this first half. It almost happened when Juanito, launched by a long ball from the right side of our attack, passed 2 defenders and was inside the box, 1 meter far from the keeper. The only thing missing was someone to make the call and receive his pass to push the ball inside the goal. It never happened, Juanito had to shoot. The ball touched the post and got taken by the keeper!

Half-time 1-0 for FCI4.

The 2nd half was unfortunately completely different. Neptune came back with more offensive ideas. After being totally dominated, they were still alive so…why not?

The 1st 10 minutes of this second half were very difficult for us, we were not back in our game. We were lacking a bit of everything. We were dominated and couldn’t really clear the danger or keep the ball.

And what should happen, happened. After a serie of mistakes from FCI defense, the ball arrived inside our box directly on the foot of Neptune’s striker. Matteo tried a magic save, touched the ball but couldn’t avoid the equalizer. 1-1.

Our mastermind Martin made his changes to bring new strengths onto the pitch. It almost worked as we got 3 clear chances to score our second goal of the season.

– Giuseppe, after a long run on the left side of the attack, dribbled 2 Neptune’s guy, resisted to another one, fixed the keeper, shot and….touched the post! Very unlucky after such a nice effort!

– Great move between Nick and Juanito, perfect cross for Manu in front of the goal line who couldn’t touch that ball to make it enter.

– Again, nice move from FCI4 with a nice pass for Hugo. Faster than the defense he could find himself alone in front of the keeper but his shot didn’t reach the target. It would have been so great to celebrate another 1st goal in the club. That’s for next time Hugo, so we can celebrate your first goal and Felix’s first good throw-in (in both case, that’s a round for the whole team!!!).

The last minutes of the game were very crazy. The ball went from 1 of side of the pitch to the other. A lot of motivation but not enough control from both team.

And the football God chose Neptune. Again.

Last minute of the game. Stupid corner conceded, 6 green guys on the box vs 3 Neptune guys. Some seconds of mess in our box. The Neptune striker was the first on the ball and push it inside the goal. 1-2.Game over.

It’s a very frustrating defeat for us but it showed us clearly what we are doing well and what we should improve!

If we keep this level of implication, the level of motivation we had this Saturday and our way to try playing good football on the ground, we are going to celebrate our 1st win very soon.

Let’s keep of working to be able to keep our real level during a full 70 mins game!

We are a team, we lose together and we win together!! Let’s take the 3 points this Saturday!

Final score: 1-2

Goal: Alex

Assist: Nick

Man of the match: Alex

Beer round paid: Arne

On a beautiful afternoon at Nosseghem, the 4s arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (especially Mario who seemed entirely unashamed of having forgotten to pick up his teammates) and ready to begin the 2019/20 campaign. Unfortunately, this was to be a somewhat frustrating start for Irlande, as they would draw 0-0 with a spirited, if technically lacking, Cornac United FC.

Setting up in a classic 4-4-2 formation, Irlande started strongly, passing the ball around well between the defence and the midfield. Despite this, Irlande initially struggled to penetrate the Cornac defence and create chances from open play. No surprise, then, that the first clear chance came from a set piece: an inswinging cross from Nick found its way through to the Cornac goalkeeper, who spilled it at the feet of the onrushing Alex (your match report author). Unfortunately, Alex suffered at precisely that moment an attack of temporary paralysis, caused by overwhelming excitement at the thought of writing his name into the FC Irlande annals with a debut goal, and the chance was missed. Moments later, a short corner with Nick allowed Alex, determined to redeem himself, to pull the ball back for Mario on the edge of the box, who rattled the underside of the crossbar with a powerful shot.

The first half continued in this fashion. Irlande continued to apply pressure on the Cornac defence, as several opportunities to break the deadlock came and went. Another clear chance saw Hugo get on the end of a low cross, forcing a good save from the Cornac goalkeeper, and a less clear chance came when Benoit attempted a bicycle kick while lying on the ground on the edge of the opposition 18-yard box (he missed the ball but all present were in agreement that it was a valiant effort). Cornac struggled to maintain possession for long periods of the half and any danger to the FC Irlande goal was snuffed out by solid defending from the Irlande back four.

At halftime, Irlande were justifiably optimistic about their prospects of going on to take the three points. However, in the second half, Cornac managed to work their way back into the game, defending more aggressively in midfield and stringing passes together more effectively. Consequently, the second half was defined by a herculean performance from the FC Irlande defence. The centre-back combination of Roman and Arne (otherwise known as The Berlin Wall) was utterly dominant, with neither one losing an aerial battle for the duration of the half. Arne was particularly solid, reading the game well and making a number of vital interceptions. As we know, though, the Berlin Wall can’t last forever, and Cornac did manage one clear chance late on. Thankfully, Matteo was on hand with a spectacular double save to avoid what would have been a thoroughly undeserved defeat for Irlande.

Irlande, despite being less fluid in their play in the second half, did have their chances. Thomas sadly spurned an opportunity after finding himself in acres of space on the left, claiming afterwards that he had been put off by his teammates imploring him to shoot (what were we supposed to do, one wonders), and Irlande were denied at least one clear penalty by the referee, who seemed to have forgotten that you’re not allowed to use your hands in football. In addition, the Cornac goalkeeper made an excellent diving save from Mario, admittedly 10 metres outside his own box but this was also unnoticed by the referee. A final notable moment of the second half came when Benoit received a yellow card for throwing himself headfirst into the path of an advancing Cornac player and using his hand to slap the ball away from him. Given the previous conduct of the referee, Benoit could be forgiven for thinking he would get away with it.

All in all, a good performance from Irlande that on another day would have resulted in a win. A solid platform on which to build this season.

Final score: 0-0

MOTM: Arne (WHO STILL OWES HIS ROUND TO EVERYBODY)

Subs: Giuseppe for Hugo (40’); Gera for Thomas (55’)

Yellow cards: Hugo, Giuseppe, Benoît

All fixtures and results

#1 September 7, 2019 FC Irlande 4ths 0 - 0 Report Cornac United 1
#2 September 14, 2019 FC Irlande 4ths 1 - 2 Report Neptune FC
#3 September 21, 2019 Anderlecht Lemmens 7 - 0 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#4 September 28, 2019 FC Irlande 4ths 6 - 1 Report Virginal ASF
#5 October 5, 2019 Mousses Tachent 1 - 1 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#6 October 12, 2019 Nivelles CS 1 0 - 3 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#7 October 19, 2019 FC Irlande 4ths 1 - 1 Report FC Woluwe
#8 October 26, 2019 Patjes FC 7 - 2 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#9 November 2, 2019 Boca Sublime 1 - 0 FC Irlande 4ths
#10 November 9, 2019 FC Irlande 4ths 5 - 1 Report Omnisport Bierghes 1
#11 November 16, 2019 Peter Pan FC 3 - 2 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#12 November 23, 2019 FC Irlande 4ths 1 - 2 Report Chenois SC 2
#13 November 30, 2019 Uccle Stendhal 1 - 1 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#14 December 7, 2019 Neptune FC 1 - 7 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#15 December 14, 2019 FC Irlande 4ths 4 - 1 Report Uccle Stendhal
#16 January 11, 2020 FC Irlande 4ths 1 - 1 Report Anderlecht Lemmens
#17 January 18, 2020 Virginal ASF 3 - 6 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#18 January 25, 2020 FC Irlande 4ths 3 - 1 Report Mousses Tachent
#19 February 1, 2020 FC Irlande 4ths 2 - 0 Report Nivelles CS 1
#20 February 8, 2020 FC Woluwe 1 - 3 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#21 February 15, 2020 FC Irlande 4ths 1 - 1 Report Boca Sublime
#22 February 22, 2020 Cornac United 1 1 - 3 Report FC Irlande 4ths
#23 February 29, 2020 FC Irlande 4ths 0 - 2 Report Patjes FC
#24 March 7, 2020 Omnisport Bierghes 1 - FC Irlande 4ths
#25 March 14, 2020 FC Irlande 4ths - Peter Pan FC

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FC Irlande 4ths

  • Coaches / Captains : Thomas Steiner / Martin Stobbs / Nick Pawley / Matteo Oppizzi

Top goals scorers

  • Juan Delgado 20
  • Manu Cabral 10
  • Nick Pawley 5
  • Alex Redmond 3
  • Costi Ifrim 2
  • Lorenzo De Gaudenzi 1
  • Hugo Seznec 1
  • Benoit Couloin 1
  • Mario Sanchez 1

Top goals assists

  • Nick Pawley 5
  • Juan Delgado 4
  • Alex Redmond 1
  • Hugo Seznec 1
  • Benoit Coulon 1
  • Mario Sanchez 1
  • Giuseppe Ionta 1
  • Martin Stobbs 1
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