The highly anticipated LSS games aptly tagged “civil war” began on Friday, 8th of July with football taking the centre stage on the main bowl of the UNILAG sports centre.
The fixtures for the day were Year 1(Antmen) taking on Year 5 (Iron Men) and the second match for the day, Year 3 (Winter Soldiers) versus Year 4 (Black panthers).
YEAR 1 VS YEAR 5
Prior to the match, the Antmen had bragged at the press conference when asked what was the reason why they could beat the Ironmen, they replied that it was that the Ironmen were already old and slow and they would beat them easily. Jones Ayuwo, the coach of the Ironmen said at the press conference that they were playing to have fun and if possible win the trophy since this is their final shot at the competition.
Straight to the match, both teams walked out to the tune of Champions League anthem, after that the national anthem was belted out by Dolapo from year 2. Both teams shook hands with the LSS president and the sports secretary and themselves. They both snapped their team photos, the Antmen were sporting yellow shirts on yellow shorts while the Ironmen were putting on dark blue shirts with an orange patch on the shoulder with dark blue shorts. The weather was hot and the playing turf at the main bowl didn’t look good at all due to high grass on some sections of the pitch.
Year 5 took the kickoff playing from right to left and year 1 in opposite direction, the key player missing for year 1 was Omio who marshals their midfield alongside Khalil and Efe. A funny sight was Ugbah (Year 1 goalkeeper ) who was wearing no boots as he did at the novelty match, whether this is a match ritual remains to be seen though.
The early proceedings was tight with both teams trying to get used to the bumpy pitch. Year 5 resorted to long balls always looking for the runs of Ore Nino and Jide. Yemi Adebo was marshaling the midfield very well. While SAS and Segun were stopping the counter attacks by the Antmen. Whenever the Antmen were in possession they were always displaying some Tika taka stuff mainly due to their lack of height with Efe, Semilore and mainly Ayo leading the onslaught.
Towards the end of the first half, the Ironmen won a freekick in 35 metres from goal. Yemi Adebo stepped up to take it and floated it to the head of Jide Williams who scored with a looping header over Ugbah after he was left unmarked by the Antmen. Jide’s goal was his first goal after 480 minutes of football since the last LSS Games. That was the final action of the first half as the referee blew for halftime.
The second half started frantically with the rejuvenated Antmen threatening to equalize. Khalil started to have a much wider influence on the game with the through balls he was giving to Ayo who was taking out players with his quick feet and close control. He had a shot that was cleared away for a corner but the resulting corner was poor and it was all in vain. They were a lot of fouls in favor of year 1 due to their small stature.
Year 5 regained control after been pegged back at the beginning of the second half, they were rewarded with a penalty and Jide Williams stepped up with a chance to equalize but Jide squandered it by shooting the ball wide of the gaping goal. The match petered out to a dull end as no side was able to take score any other goal.
The final score was 1-0 in favor of Year 5, I guess the experience and height advantage of year 5 helped them as year 1 were not able to effectively play their usual free flowing ground passes as we had seen at the preseason games on the main bowl bumpy pitch and also missed the strength of Omio in the middle.
YEAR 1 STATISTICS YEAR 5
0 GOALS 1
2 SHOTS 4
1 ON TARGET 2
1 FOULS 7
0 YELLOW CARDS 0
0 RED CARDS 0
0 OFFSIDES 1
1 CORNERS 3
44 POSSESSION(%) 56
*Stats by Olumayowa Akinyemi
YEAR 3 VS YEAR 4
This match referred to “unfinished business”. Everyone was looking forward to due to way last year’s final ended between both teams after it turned to a scuffle when Tochukwu scored a last minute equalizer, the referee had actually allowed the goal but saw his linesman waving for offside and seemed to rule out the goal which put year 3 in a state of shock on how there can be an offside from a throw in.
At the press conference, the questions posed to year 3 coaches and players was whether they are a violent team, which of course they denied, stating they never go into a game to hurt opponents but to play good football and win. They also felt they were denied the trophy due to the poor referee decisions seeing as they won 4 out of 4 matches conceding only 1 goal until the final.
The year 4 team or Black panthers as they will be called this year, at the press conference bragged of having the best players in all positions. They were also shouts of “defending champions” by their fans which we all know is false as their was no winner last year.
Both sets of teams seem to have a deep running rivalry on and off the pitch. The second battle began with the players shaking hands and having their team photos.
The winter soldiers were putting on grey shirts and grey shorts while the black panthers were wearing arguably the best Jersey in the competition black shirts with a white stripe and black shorts. Year 3 took the kickoff playing from right to left and year 4 in the opposite direction.
The early minutes was played mainly in the midfield as both teams wanted to stamp their authority. Most of the attacks by the winter soldiers were often falling apart due to misplaced passes. However the year 4 gained superiority and Quasim was key to that. The strength of the defensive partnership of Lanre and Tichukwu was being tested as all balls were being floated over the defense to feets of Dominic and Macho who playing mainly as a supporting striker. A key highlight of the opening minutes was Bolaji constantly taking on the entire defence of the black panthers with ease but it lacked end product most times.
The defence of the winter soldiers eventually crumbled when Tochukwu and Dominic went up for a 50-50 header and the referee inexplicably blew for a freekick in favor of the year 4. It was 21 metres from goal but Macho fancied it and stood over the ball, the wall was set. The referee gave the go ahead. Macho took a few steps and struck a curling freekick straight past the hands of Ivan in goal. 1-0 in favor of the black panthers.
That goal made the winter soldiers go in search of the equalizer. Black panthers kept on conceding fouls and corners because of the barrage of attacks by year 3. Murphy had a header unbelievably palmed away for a corner by Fikayo who was on top his game. Winter soldiers insistence on playing short corners was not working for them as it led to nothing but clearances by the defenders for the black panthers. There was controversy when it seemed that Year 3 player Murphy was bundled over, it seemed like a penalty but the referee gave it as a freekick. Kay struck it but the ball flew over the bar.
Out of nothing a ball was floated over to Dominic by Quasim, Dominic was up against Lanre who he took out with ease and but was fell by the Giwa who took both the ball and the player out. The referee pointed to the spot for a penalty. It seemed as if the match was going to be over in the first half. Dominic stood up to take the penalty, he gingerly kicked the ball into the left corner beyond Ivan. 2-0 in favor of Year 4.
The winter soldiers did their best to reduce the margin but it came to nothing as the referee blew for halftime a few minutes later.
The second half began and Samba was brought in for Ekene to strengthen the defence. There was no time for play as the winter soldiers took the game to the black panthers, dominating proceedings from the start of the second half. Varlo came a little deeper into the midfield to control play. There was a goal for year 3 when Russell broke down the right wing and square played a ball into the box and Murphy nudged the ball into goal before Fikayo could get to it, Game on!!!
Year 3 kept on playing the ball in the half of year 4, except for a double save Ivan had to make when year 4 countered. Year 3 searched desperately for the equalizer but were unable to get it due to dogged defending by Year 4 who were camped in their box and even resorted to time wasting antics by some of their players. Seyi Law suffered a nasty looking injury and was subbed off.
There were series of long throws by Varlo into the box of the black panthers which often led to chaos in the box of the black panthers but it led to nothing.
The match ended 2-1 in favor of Year 4, who will see this victory as some sort of revenge on the winter soldiers. Meanwhile the winter soldiers will have to get their acts in order or risk being eliminated out of the competition. The war just got started.
YEAR 3 STATISTICS YEAR 4
1 GOALS 2
7 SHOTS 5
5 ON TARGET 4
6 FOULS 9
1 YELLOW CARDS 1
0 RED CARDS 0
0 OFFSIDES 0
5 CORNERS 3
59 POSSESSION(%) 41
*Stats by Olumayowa Akinyemi