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Before a crucial match that decides the current season and the next one, you prepare and check everything in advance so that you can entirely focus on the game. That was what Mazzi was trying to do, but destiny, in the guise of Ninja, decided that the match against British United was not one of those cases.

How to describe the pre-match against British United? Well, we can say that Ninja does not have a good relationship with things that can be locked, but she will always find a cell phone to save the situation. An uncertain and electrifying pre-match may have given energy to FCI and helped them release the tension for such a decisive match.

FCI is in total domination of the first half of the game and puts continuous pressure on the British United defence. The dynamic duo up front, Liza and Eli, wreaks havoc among the British United players, helped by Antonia and Bea on the wings.

The match’s first goal for FCI arrives from a through ball that cuts the British United defence; Eli,  noticing being offside, ignores the ball and lets Liza goes on the ball. The pass is too long, and the opponent goalie arrives first, but her kick is intercepted by Liza, that touches the ball that goes on the right wing, where Bea comes running like a train, controls the ball and scores at the 20’. After the goal, FCI creates a series of scoring opportunities. Liza launches Antonia on the left wing, which finds the space for the shot that ends not far from the goal. From a throw-in made by Sophie, Ninja controls the ball, launching herself toward the door and kicking the ball, but the shot goes high above the crossbar. Taking advantage of an opponent’s defensive mistake, Ninja steals the ball and kicks, but the goalie puts the ball in the corner. From the development of the corner, FCI scores the second goal of the match with Eli, that finds the right touch after a scrum in the penalty area, closing the first half with the result of 2-0.

FCI opens the second half with another goal. Once again, Liza finds Antonia with a through ball. Antonia cuts to the centre from the left wing and, after a series of unlucky shot attempts, scores at the 48’, thanks to her tenacity. Despite the goal conceded in the first minutes of the second half, British United plays with more aggressivity, trying to find the goal that would reopen the game. They probably overheard Marie saying she was getting bored between the goalposts and decided to let her have some fun. The attacking pressure of British United produces a penalty that Marie stops. After a series of shots and Marie’s plastic saves, British United finds the goal of 3-1 at the 85’. Not enough time remains on the clock to threaten FCI’s victory, and the match ends 3-1.

The goal conceded did not ruin a beautiful game played by FCI. FCI dominated the match from the first to the last minute, demonstrating how much everyone wanted this victory. Not only did the players’ focus and determination on the pitch show the game’s cruciality, but also the supporters’ turnout (even dogs were there to support FCI)  and noise made it clear what this game meant for us.

This game was also a test. Throughout the season, we had great performances against teams stronger than us and failed in matches where we could bring the bacon home. This time, the prize was too high to fail. We won the relegation battle, which gives us almost the certainty to stay in P2 next year. Cakes and whisky made perfect an already beautiful Sunday.

On Saturday, 19 November, we witnessed another chapter of the never-ending rivalry between FC Irlande Ladies III and the Bufc Ladies Brussels.

The match starts with a minute of silence to remember Noel Egan, one of the founder members of FC Irlande.

It might have been the burden of the team’s history, but the first half of the derby is not one of the FCI’s best performances. Bufc opens the dance by scoring a magnificent free kick at the 16’. Later a penalty is awarded to Bufc, but Mariana beautifully stops it. Despite some good passages, FCI cannot create really dangerous scoring chances. At the end of the first half, Eva makes her debut as a goalkeeper, substituting for Mariana.

FCI returns for the second half with more focus and a change in the module, switching from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, using Océance as a pivot to create more space and opportunities for Liza. As a second striker, Océane can give some excellent passages to the left and right midfielders. From Océane’s feet start the most dangerous FCI scoring opportunity of the match. A long ball finds Liza, that controls the ball and shoots from the edge of the box. Her shot is wide for a few inches. The second Bufc goal comes from a moment of confusion in the FCI defence, cynically used by the opponent. While FCI cannot turn into a goal a free-kick from inside the penalty area that finishes on the opponent’s wall. The game ends with the third goal of the Bufc at the 89’.

The derby ends 3-0 for Bufc. Still, plenty of time for the return match, but we already have to work for the game at home to end with a positive result.

Despite the disappointing result, we must always recognise and learn from the positive signs seen during the match: the ability of the team to switch and adapt to a new module following Francesco’s instructions, the ability to remain with the head in the game, the excellent cooperation and complementarity between the two strikers Liza and Océane, and the outstanding performance of our debutante goalie, Eva. Some more training on the throw-ins might be necessary during the following weeks.

But we had to wait until the end of the match for the worst part of the night when arrived at the buvette we found out that there were no sandwiches for FCI III. The players showed an unbelievable attachment to the club, not stealing the sandwiches of FCI II that was still playing against F.C. White Star.

All fixtures and results

#12 November 19, 2022 BUFC Ladies Brussels 3 - 0 Report FC Irlande Ladies 3
#26 March 12, 2023 FC Irlande Ladies 3 3 - 1 Report BUFC Ladies Brussels