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Big Bamboo Voodoo 1 Azzurri 2
SIFL CUP QF: Big Bamboo Voodoo 1 Oranjie 3 Big Bamboo Voodoo have won the Hebiguchi Cup but now apart from the SIFL CT Trophy, their season has been extinguished by the highly spirited and triangular diamond passing of the "on their day" 'total' Dutch. It appeared that Voodoo still had a 'champagne hangover' from their remarkable victory two weeks ago and didn’t perform for most of the game against a side out for revenge and with a chance to win some silver themselves. Voodoo were under attack and couldn’t seem to string two passes together straight from the whistle and throughout the first half. By some luck, two chances fell to the Malaysian Yap only to see his efforts sail wide. The whole spine of the voodoo team was largely ineffective. The imposing Lister was not able to establish any creative impact due to the man marking duty he was asked to perform. Hal Stockley, who has made a significant impact with the Voodoo side, had obviously returned too early from his stomach bug and struggled to play to the high standards he has set himself and big Suchy struggled with an injured right knee until halftime. These factors had the effect of unsettling the balance of the side and it simply did not perform like clockwork. It was no surprise that the Dutch took the lead after a sustained spell of pressure, just before half time. Some half time changes gave Voodoo renewed enthusiasm. It now appeared as if we were starting to see the game we had expected. Voodoo were starting to get in to the game when a through ball, half way inside the Dutch half was anticipated by Jamie Conello and after a couple of strides met the bouncing ball on the volley, leaving Oranjie keeper stranded as the fanasty shot found its target. 1:1 Voodoo kept up the pressure. Golding, playing right back after a long injury spell, had advanced in to the Dutch half to win a thundering tackle from the oranjie left midfielder. Although his timing appeared to be perfect and he came away with the ball to start a threatening run towards the Dutch box, the referee controversially judged the tackle to be unfair and gave the Dutch a free kick. As the Voodoo defence were organising themselves, a long free kick in to the box was met by an Oranjie striker who ran between two defenders and slotted the ball home. Although Voodoo had only performed in the second half, this appeared to turn the face of the game and gave Voodoo another mountain to climb. As they desperately pushed for an equaliser, the were caught once again at the back and a glancing header from Wytze which Sebastian would routinely collect for breakfast, bounced unkindly as he went to ground, changed direction and floated over him in to the goal. Whilst the scoreline was flattering to Oranjie, they deserved the result and Voodoo didn’t do enough in the 90 minutes to continue their silver quests. "They didn’t really play today,” said Orangie playmaker Wytze "I cant believe it, But we owed them one anyway!" Howard was unavailable for comment. With only a pride league position to play for and the token CT Trophy, this is an opportunity for Voodoo to start their preparations for next season. With Capes, Stockley and Watson moving on, Howard has the opportunity to groom his new coaching staff to improve the team's consistency next year. However,in only their second season and first under the new collective Management, Howard should be proud to have guided Voodoo to become only the third team name engraved on the League Cup other the Shooters and Lions.
Big Bamboo Voodoo 2 Malones Shooters 1 (final edition) The Shooters stranglehold on domestic silverware has been finally been prised open. There will be an empty space in their trophy cabinet this year where once stood the Hebiguchi League Cup. The trophy now has a new home, just south of Malone’s, at the BIG BAMBOO, home of Saturday’s victors, Voodoo FC. This ‘smash and grab’ raid by the crafty boys from South Tongren Lu has taken 18 months to plan, culminating in joy for Big Bamboo Owner Bryce Jenner, Coach, Rick Howard, Captain, Sean Capes and the veteran player, Chris Golding. The long road to victory began at the start of last season in Nanjing Xi lu, which divides the north and south Tongren Lu, when Golding, later joined by Howard and then Capes, hoped to create a new SIFL force. The original squad, cruelly labeled at the beginning, ‘the odds and sods’, had by the end of the season earnt respect in the way they had developed and grown. They had started to give some of the seasoned sides some problems and got some good scores and results along the way. That season took its toll on Golding, now in the twilight of his playing career, so he decided to hand over the administration and responsibilities to Howard and Capes who were keen to develop the vision. The beginning of this season saw new money, a new logo and an influx of new players as well as the new leadership. All these things combined created challenges of their own and the results were not coming so easily. However, the squad has continued to develop and grow under the dogged guidance of Howard and his administrative team. Rumors of tactical arguments, leadership tussles and player frustrations were far from evident as I was fortunate enough to share the Voodoo bus on the way to the Tianma stadium for their showdown with the Goliath’s of South East Asian International Football in this League Cup Final. This was not only a Cup Final with a chance to win some honours but also a yardstick for how far they have come. The mood on the bus was relaxed and upbeat as music from their first successful tour of Manila last November was played as well as their top twenty Cup chant to the tune of the ‘Beer Barrel Polka’. You could sense there was an air of determined calm about the squad as they set about planning not only to spoil the Shooters party but to throw their own. Their mood was to lay 'the pressure to perform' solely on the shoulders of their close geographical rivals. Strangely, I looked around for Denis Wise, remembering the FA Cup Final between Wimbledon and Liverpool and my eyes settled on Capes, the Voodoo’s ‘cheeky chappy’. Was this going to be as much of an upset? Voodoo were the first to arrive and took the time to ‘model’ their training tops and provide photo opportunities for the press, traveling fans, corporate sponsors and family albumns! Something not new for Canadian centre-back Suchy who can be seen regularly gracing TV advertisements, magazines and bill boards, much to the amusement of his teammates. However, this felt more like the Oscars as the whole team assembled on ‘arriving the red carpet’ and spoke to the crowd. The excitement was slowly building. As the teams prepared to Kick off, a strong wind of change seemed to be blowing in favour of the ‘Yellow Devils’ of Voodoo. The Shooters were in line for a tough first half competing against their local minos and the wind. The game started in typical cup fashion as both teams struggled to impose their own passing game and establish control. It was difficult in the windy conditions and both teams were quick to close down space. The Shooters were finding it more difficult playing into the wind and gave up possession on many occasions. Long balls were blowing in to touch, short balls were being shut down and their players were being hussled and tackled from their defence to their attack. After 10 minutes, Voodoo forced a corner from their left hand side. As the corner was delivered dangerously in to Shooters penalty area testing the stand in keeper, the ball missed every contact effort that was made and found its way on the shoulder of a surprised Jimmy Allen. Unfortunately for Allen, the ball bounced like a rocket off his shoulder, passed the stranded Keeper and in to the net. This set the tone for Allen and the Shooter’s day. As the Shooters tried to get in to the game, Voodoo worked harder to frustrate them. This and the wind were taking its toll as Shooter’s players became visibly dejected with each other at the way things were turning out. Then, a Voodoo throw in half way inside the Shooters half on their right hand side, the ball found its way across the field towards the edge of the box and sat up beautifully for the industrious Hal Stockley. Stockley caught the ball with a sweet strike, which completely wrong footed the whole Shooters defence and flew in to the goal. 2:0 it stayed until half time. The second half saw the Shooters playing with the wind. They tried to take advantage as the Voodoo had done in the first half but the whole Voodoo team and the defence of Watson, Suchy, Hayward, Emsley and Seb in goal, held firm. However, the relentless pressure eventually caused a breakthrough when a ball was not cleared well in a penalty box tussle and was struck from the centre, just inside the box, beating Seb off the underside of the bar and in to the net. The Shooters joy and relief was plain to see. The remaining 25 minutes gave us a thrilling ride as Shooters tried to throw everything they could at Voodoo only to see wave after wave of attack broken down and chances came and went. Could Shooters force a draw or could Voodoo steal a breakaway goal against the run of play to seal it? As the hearts in the crowd pounded the clock kept ticking. Shooters could sense that lady luck was not smiling on them today and the Voodoo goal seemed to have a spell of its own. As Voodoo ran, chased and tried to find some space to ease the pressure, the joyous chorus of the final whistle blew like the factory whistle at clocking off time. Voodoo had done their job, produced an upset and were ready to collect their pay. Voodoo had done it. “I’m physically and emotionally drained but it feels great,” said Howard. “The guys did everything I asked for today and they were magnificent. Everybody played their part. The players, the subs and the supporters. A fantastic team effort. That’s all I can say right now”. A gracious Joffre added “they (Voodoo) wanted it more than us today and they deserve it. We had to lose sometime. Unfortunately, it was for another trophy. But it’s good for the league and they should enjoy it. Having already won the League championship, we’ll focus on the FA Cup. Maybe we’ll meet them (Voodoo) again in that Final?” Voodoo becomes the first team to defeat the Shooters since December 2002 and what a time to do it. They also become only the third team to win the Hebiguchi Cup behind Shooters and the famous Shanghai Lions. This win should send a signal to the rest of the SIFL that Voodoo can perform. It should also show them that the Shooters are not invincible and may help to cause one or two more upsets before the season ends. For now, there’ll be singing in the streets of Tongren Lu for the next few weeks as those associated with the Big Bamboo team celebrate a day to remember. Man Of the Match: HAL STOCKLEY. Stood supreme on a field of superstars. Voodoo Cup Squad: Rick Howard, Chris Golding, Steve Watson, Leslie Yap, Matt Emsley, Sean Capes, Justin Pau, Ben Peters, Mark Suchy, Kit Goodrick, Giles Hayward, Andy McClay, Hal Stockley, Jamie Connello, Per Skaarnes, Sam Johnson, Sebastien Ferret, (Chris Hughes, Fernando Soares, Dan Foa, Jason Bryce). Other notable results this weekend. Manchester United defeat Arsenal 1:0 to reach the English FA Cup. Millwall join them by beating Sunderland 1:0. Chelsea close gap on Arsenal in the premiership to 4 points beating Tottenham 1:0 Other match reports on www.eteams.com/shanghaishooters
Big Bamboo Voodoo 1 Latino's 1
Big Bamboo Voodoo v Malones Shooters We’ve had the “Cockney” Cup Final (West Ham v Fulham) and we’ve had the Mersey Final. Tomorrow see’s the SIFL League Cup Final, (named in memory of the late Japanese player, Hebiguchi) between Big Bamboo Voodoo and Malone’s Shooters. Since the ‘spiritual’ homes of these two sides are within a very short distance, in fact, along the same stretch, this final is becoming known as the “Tongren Lu” Final. Malone’s Shooters are the odds on favorites for this game. They won the treble and Manila International last season and have already won this years League title. They are still on course to win the three domestic trophies again and they only lost their International title in a semi final penalty shoot out. Due to the ‘behind the scenes’ stamina of flamboyant head coach, John Joffre, the team are a ‘well – oiled’ machine that is firing on all cylinders. There doesn’t seem to be a team currently capable of tipping the scales. Big Bamboo have had a stuttery season by comparison. A big new sponsor this season, an influx of new talent and a squad rotation system has meant that the team hasn’t been able to gel consistently. One week they look like they could challenge for honors only for the following week to slip on the banana skins of teams less capable than themselves. At times the frustration of expectancy and inconsistency appears to have affected them as if they were playing against an opposition of 12 or 13 players. Like Claudio Ranieri, Rick Howard has also felt the pressure from all sides. However, the team is unbeaten this year and if player manager Howard, with the help of his experienced back room staff, can iron out the creases in their team play, they should be able to create more goal scoring opportunities. Like the great past teams of Brazil and how Arsenal are currently performing this season, if you can create problems for opposing defences you will end on top more often than not. Unfortunately for Voodoo, they don’t have a Ronaldo or a Henry. The Shanghai spring has started to bloom and the forecast on match day should provide conditions and perfect platform for a great game. On paper, Bamboo could simply be ‘steam-rollered’ as the Shooters look to take their second trophy on their 2003/2004 treble quest. On the other hand, if Bamboo can fire on all their cylinders in the right order, they just might cause an upset. In the spirit of all great cup competitions, anything can happen. What we hope is that such a derby doesn’t create a boring stalemate of blood and thunder but where both teams play the quality of football that are capable of or promise. Voodoo have shown on many occasions how their concentration and focus can slip over 90 minutes. This could be a day of half chances and unfortunate mistakes. On that basis and with all things considered, it’s more likely that the ribbons on display at full time will be Red and Black. However, in the lottery of knock out competitions, form and expectations mean nothing. After all the pre-match analysis and stats, we’ll have to wait and see if this can be a great classic with a possible upset or if the Shooters monopoly ‘band wagon’ continues unchallenged. Ultimately, Big Bamboo Voodoo has no pressure and should go out to enjoy their day. A ‘Wimbledon’ sprit and composure may just take them those few extra yards to collect their prize. The stage is set, the cameras are rolling but who ultimately will collect the Oscars? We’ll find out sometime after 2.30pm tomorrow.