Union Schaerbeek

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Here we go boys, the soccer ball season 2020-21 is finally here! The seasoned seamen of the second team came into the opening weekend full of zest and spunk, ready to leave their mark on the ABSSA Division 2A. Coming off the back of an excellent preseason under the stewardship of skippers Jonny (“Rajon”) Sparks and Dastan there’s a real buzz around the place, as the lads look to build upon the record-breaking points total for an FCI IIs that we achieved last season. It would be a tough away day first-up against old foes FC Schaerbeek but we knew exactly what to expect – a full-blooded grudge match.
Injuries and suspensions ruled some big names out of the matchday squad, including freshly-crowned Player of the Year Amadou-dou-dou (♪ he is better than Giroud ♪) and Brioche who has now returned to his parent team after a successful loan spell with the firsts last season. The Gentleman of Porto and jilted roomie Alex G watched on from the sidelines with plenty of hydration as Schaerbeek baked in the warm Indian (Egytian) Summer conditions. Indeed, the sunlight was deemed too strong for our flying Dutchman Mike to venture safely outdoors, so he’ll be relieved to see the October cloud cover approaching. Flakey Banas was absent and snack machine Gineste was tasked with taking Julian out of town for the weekend to respect the terms of the restraining order filed after the last time these two teams met.
Otherwise, it was a strong and familiar-looking squad that rocked up to the impressive Crossingsstadion (aka “Şükrü-Saracoğlu stadyumu”). We were bolstered by the addition of two newly-signed free agents;’Yorkshire Ederson’Josh Harris and ‘Colombian Keown’ Jhonn Viloria both went straight into the starting XI to make their competitive debuts. A special mention should go to Josh, who demonstrated outstanding commitment to the cause and hemorrhaged countless husband points to be there on the day. Also making his second-team bow and spearheading the attack was our very own Powercube, Ionut – the latest gem to be prised away from the third team. Papa Lion Tom (Naaaaants ingonyama bagithiiiii babaaaaa) filled in alongside a now tee-total Booba in the double pivot, behind captain Dastan operating in his customary position deep in the hole. Pace merchants Gabi and Lolo lined up on the flanks ahead of double-O Clement and football philosophiser Hadri in the full-back positions, with sorry Sergio Ramos wannabe Ryan partnering our debutant sicario Jhonn in central defence. Riding the pine were the out-of-retirement Matthias VDN, ripe-for-retirement Alessandro :-), Man United scum Neil, and His Excellency, (Gay)Lord Benjelloun. Our Presdident Dave was also in attendance to cheer the boys on from the sidelines!
Once our pre-match photo shoot was out of the way and Dastan had bottled the coin toss, the game got underway with the seconds enjoying some nice spells of possession and looking to stamp some early authority on the game. The midfield and defence got a lot of touches on the ball and we started to look dangerous in the final third, with some slick interplay between the Irlande attackers leading to a number of decent half chances. It was not before too long that the breakthrough came, when the industrious Ionut pressured the Schaerbeek goalkeeper into a mistake in his own box and drew a deserved penalty kick. Thankfully for us Booba kept quiet and magnanimously allowed our designated taker Lolo to dispatch the pen expertly in the bottom-right corner, giving Rüştü Reçber no chance. 0-1 Irlande! Schaerbeek offered relatively little in response for the remainder of the half, but their annoyingly decent striker did try to create danger whenever on the ball. Several speculative free kicks, one of which earned Ryan a yellow card, were all the opponents could muster and our new custodian Josh hardly broke a sweat, giving plenty of time to think about how to spend his upcoming birthday. 0-1 up at half time and fairly comfortable.
We’d done OK  but the message for the second half was clear and simple – be more agressive, don’t dive in cheaply, and don’t let them feed their no.9. The disarray that followed was one for the leading chaos theorists to dissect – how an innocent flap of Julian’s wings in the Ardennes could derail our performance in Schaerbeek so seismically was bewildering. We lost all composure, all concentration, all of the right kind of aggression, and immediately gifted the Schaerbeek dangerman (the referee ?) the ball and space to run through on goal and clinically bury an equalizer. Then a second followed… and later a third. A hat-trick for their striker all made far too easy. Reinforcements had arrived in the meantime in Benji, Neilo, VDN and Ale who managed to steady the ship and tried to claw us back into the game. There was no love lost between the two sides and tempers frayed, not helped by the shocking referee awarding free-kicks and offsides against us at every opportunity. Josh pulled out a brilliant back-pedalling save to tip the ball around the post at one stage, probably the only real chance of the game they didn’t actually score from. In the dying seconds, Booba burst into the box and won a penalty which he insisted on taking himself, but unlike John-Simon in his alone time, Booba did not cover himself in glory. The dodgy goalie saved the pen and Hadri could only steer the rebound wide. Leave it to the professionals, Booba! Final score a really disappointing 3-1.
It was tricky to pick out an MVP after the poor team performance and it was only after a thorough delineation of Fermat’s last theorem that the MotM was finally determined and awarded to cult hero Ryan Self. Recommissioned by Gabi due to popular demand, Dick of the Match was a landslide victory for Booba for his end-game antics. We have to learn from this one quickly with another tough game coming next week. Key lessons to take away from the day are to bloody sort out the entropic second-half performances, be very careful wandering the streets of Jutland (J’accuse !!!!) at night and never, EVER, borrow a T-shirt from Benji.

All fixtures and results

#3 September 19, 2020 Union Schaerbeek 3 - 1 Report FC Irlande 2nds
#16 January 9, 2021 FC Irlande 2nds - Union Schaerbeek

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