All About Assana
Comoros Division Four leaders L&J Woodpecker's United spanked the visiting Birds 5-3 in this morning's friendly, as they asserted their preeminence on home turf. It was hardly a foregone conclusion given the Woodpeckers' lack of dominating personalities, all the more after Yee Jian Hui
snuck in around Ahmed M'Changama on Grilled's first free-kick, to nick a sneaky opener.
If the Woodpeckers didn't have individual stars, they certainly had impeccable teamwork, as they steadied the ship with sensible short passing. With Benjaloud Abdallah set upon Bilal Mohammad Harun
, they soon felt comfortable enough to press upfield, and Prokop Mottl
severely underestimated Chaker Abdullah's strength in the eleventh minute. The beefy Number Eighteen bounced Mottl off him with an entirely-legal shoulder bump, and Jérémy Tarin
would have no better luck in slowing him down. One-all.
The first half would end yet balanced, despite Moey Xin Seng
- by some distance Grilled's top performer - creating a goal out of next to nothing for himself, in the 31st. The Woodpeckers merely went on as before despite their latest setback, and Nadjim Assana tried a low-probability effort under severe pressure from Dante Tran
. Krystian Rykowski
hadn't counted on Tarin's well-meaning interception completely changing the direction of the shot, and his adjustment came far too late.
One would have expected that to be saved nonetheless, given the lack of pace on the ball, and Noubaryan looked thoughtful as he watched it go in. No changes were made during half-time, and the Birds came out with a winding forty-yard run by Chu Xin Lee
, that intelligently involved several teammates. It would definitely have made for a aesthetically-pleasing goal, but Justus Maina spoilt the party with an athletic low save - not bad at all for a 41 year-old!
At the other end, Assana had been absolutely fired up by his earlier strike, and Tarin was having serious trouble coping with his ceaseless sprinting. It was a battle of attrition that the Swiss defender would eventually come second best at, and Assana sold a dummy brillantly, on Tadjidine Abdou's sudden pass across the box. There was still the business of sorting his feet out, but Assana managed to do so before Mohd Jafni Abdul Majid
could hustle across, to give Woodpeckers the lead for the first time.
There was then a burst of activity as the teams loosened up, and it was Chu Xin Lee
's turn to help his team come from behind, with his neat half-volley dropping behind Maina; this held for barely three minutes before Woodpeckers were back in front, although this could be laid at the feet of some very bad defending by José Luiz Velho
. His complete misjudgment of a clearing header allowed Ahmed Sambi to chest the ball down just five yards out, and Mohd Jafni didn't register the danger promptly either.
Hoàng Trung Quá
would come on for Mohd Jafni with twenty minutes to go, as Grilled chased gamely. Tarin, who had suffered so much in this half, finally had his chance to shine when hemmed in near the corner flag; he exploited the outside of the pitch to get away from his marker, but Benjaloud Abdallah threw Chu Xin Lee
off the connecting header. Woodpeckers then cemented victory, as Tadjidine Abdou made it five on a four-man break.