‘That lads, that was fucking pathetic. You showed about as much desire as a dead koala, actually no, that’s being disrespectful to dead koalas. Sylla, you were fucking horrendous there, I’ve got a good mind to ship you off back to The Ivory Coast’ Kaloulou Sylla stood up but I cut him off before he could speak ‘Don’t, just don’t. 3 of their goals came from corners, and you were meant to be marking the big fella, you know the shit house that scored twice!’
Mo pulled up some sheets on the flip board and started to point at problem areas, as he’d called them
‘Mo put it away, the whole fucking side was a problem area today’ He was irritating me a bit really, during the game he was making all these notes on that fucking clipboard of his, then he was drawing things that look like my 2 year old niece had drawn instead of helping me turn that absolute shower of shite around as we got taught a lesson in how to play football.
We might as well call it a day lads. 5-1 against a team we’ve not beaten in 3 attempts now. Our chances of winning the cup had gently drifted across the pond in exactly the same way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
There is 1 tiny glimmer of hope however, and that is that we did equalise in this game which means we’ve got an away goal. The away goal rule got us to the final, but Dong Nai are too good, they’re too structured, they’ve got a 4 goal lead and we’ve got no hope.
I’ve got no ace up my sleeve, no wild card to spring on to Dong Nai, all I can do is tell the lads to go out there and try and at least keep it respectable. The only real change we can make is to switch the midfield around and play a more attacking 4-4-2.
Well actually, there is 1 subtle change we can make, Xuam Nam was pretty poor last time, well they all were, but he was error prone and didn’t help at all in the first leg, so he’s dropped and I give a first start to youngster Huu Son. He’s had a handful of appearances from the bench and scored some goals here and there, Xuam and Cheol may be my starters, but this cup final is all but over so putting the young lad in isn’t going to make things any worse.
Despite the problem we’re facing in this game, I love pressure. I thrive on it actually, can’t beat a bit of nerves mixed with anxiety mixed with the crushing realisation that you might not be good enough.
But as with the last 2 seasons here, for the most part we’ve set the pace in our games and really controlled them. In all fairness, we couldn’t have asked for a better 2 years. Promotion and a cup semi in our first year, and a top 4 finish and a cup final in the second year. But we’ve really let ourselves down with this first leg haven’t we.
Vietnam National Cup Final second leg
‘Just go out there and at least look like you give a fuck, they’re already on the beach sipping their…’ Mo interrupted my pre game team talk
‘Boss, they’re not on the beach, I have seen them warming up already’
‘Mo, please for the love of mankind learn when to speak and not interrupt, it was a figure of speech, I know they’re not on the fucking beach! Sit down and let me carry on’. I turned back toward the starting 11 ‘as I was saying, just go out there and try and put them under pressure. We’ve got nothing else to lose here, so go out there and show them that it was us that have more or less handed them this cup, not them earning it!’
As the team made their way to the pitch, I shook hands with the Dong Nai manager. He said something to me whilst grinning from ear to ear, he knows the tie is as good as over. I just hope we can do something to give the little a shit a scare, make he think he might actually lose it.
We started off as any team chasing the game should do, and that is on the front foot. I’m thinking to myself over and over that hopefully Dong Nai are going to be complacent, not wanting to put a tackle in and just see the game out, but lady luck wasn’t shining on us from the start.
11 minutes into the game, and Xuam Nam’s replacement Huu Son went to pressure the defence, and as he did he pulled up injured. Just over 10 minutes into the game and already we’ve had to make a change.
I called Xuam Nam over ‘Make me regret dropping you, show me why I should start you again next season. None of that piss poor showing from last time, make this opportunity count’ were my words as he waited on the touchline as Huu Son was stretchered off. Now was not the time to think about next season, but no matter the outcome of this game I’ll stick by Huu Son.
We did as I wanted, and that was to come out all guns blazing. We’re the better team, and it’s showing. Dong Nai are very, what’s the word, lacsidasical in their approach to the second half. If they’re thinking they will just see this game out, they’re completely mistaken.
Previous chapter – Project survival
Episode 1 – This is not another European journeyman