Sunday, August 21, 2011

GHEI Football Tournament: Humjibre, Ghana 2011

GHEI’s football Tournament had it all.  Over two days and five games we had heavy barrages of rain, large masses of spectators, a DJ to play music during half-time and between play, live play by play commentary and analysis over the speakers, vendors selling snacks and drinks, and of course, some heavy drama on the field.  Join Saga and I as we go through each of the matches

New Chelsea take to the field

Match #1: New Chelsea vs. Golden Stars

New Chelsea took the field with a quick jog around the track.  They were outsized but undaunted by their opponents, the Golden Stars.  The Stars scored around the 30 minute mark, a decisive blow that would have slayed lesser spirits.  It was a killer shot, powerfully kicked, and the keeper had little chance to react. Rain began falling but the players lost none of their fighting spirit.  The rain let up briefly for at the half, but then a herculean rainstorm fell, stronger than the earlier showers.  With the score and the weather against them Golden Stars scored again.  Initially, the keeper blocked it, but the ball bounced back into play, and a Golden Star connected and found the back of the net (well, where a net would have been).

Saga’s Analysis: Both of them played fairly.  There was no bad sportsmanship.  The Golden Stars won because when you look at the players, the New Chelsea team was younger, and the Golden Stars were more experienced.  The rain was intimidating as well.
Final Score: The Golden Stars 2 – New Chelsea 0

The rain was mighty fierce

Match #2: Golden Stars vs FC Barcelona

The next match was more evenly matched in size, and the game illustrated this.  There were many small battles on the field, but few epic clashes.  FC Barcelona scored early though.  From a strange angle, a player was obstructing the keepers view and he didn’t get around him fast enough to see the ball.  Off a quirky shot, the ball trickled in behind a confused keeper.  For the rest of the match, no team seemed to dominate, and the weather behaved.  There were no penalties, no injuries, and few stoppages.   

Saga’s Analysis: Because the players were at the same experience level in terms of ages, it made the gameplay more equal and interesting.  It was 50-50.  FC found it difficult, even though they won.  Golden Stars were tired because of the match they just played, but played equally hard.
Final Score: FC Barcelona 1 – The Golden Stars 0
F.C. Barcelona in yellow vs. The Golden Stars (In their away uniforms. They were very wet after the last match)
Match#3: FC Barcelona vs. New Chelsea 

This match ended up shocking the crowd, after FC’s slight edge in the last game, prevailing wisdom said New Chelsea could not hold them back from the final.  But within the first 5 minutes, all bets were off.  A New Chelsea player was fouled, and managed to score off the free kick.  It was the fastest goal of the tournament.  F.C. was kept at bay for most of the first half, until they managed to tie it by scoring off a save by the keeper that New Chelsea couldn’t clear.  After the half, the teams seemed surprisingly evenly matched, but then another foul and this time a penalty kick.  New Chelsea scored, and the crowd went nuts. Everyone rushed the field, swept up in the underdog charm of this team.  Only a few minutes before the 90’th, with advancement and glory on the line, FC Barcelona’s striker beat the defense, cutting through them like a knife, and from just outside the penalty box, scored decisively. Neither team could manage to come out on top by the final whistle.

Saga’s Analysis: This match was interesting because I was not expecting that New Chelsea and FC Barcelona would play to a tie.  I thought they would find it easy to beat New Chelsea, but they found it difficult. Although they tied, FC Barcelona had the most points, and advanced along with The Golden Stars.  New Chelsea should be proud of this game.   
Final Score: New Chelsea 2 – F.C. Barcelona 2

Anglican JHS (orange) vs. Deeper JHS (red)

Finals #1 Anglican JHS vs. Deeper JHS

It took some time for the girls to assemble, but by then enough spectators were out in force looking forward to the match.  Anglican started the match decisively, controlling the ball, and controlling much of the offense of the game. They took the first shot, it was wide of the goal, but Anglican girls had found their groove.  

By Deeper’s goal, an Anglican pass came in high and bounced, there was a mighty scramble.  A deeper player headed the ball. It went high, but not long enough.  An Anglican player found an opening, and took a shot at the ball midair.  It connected and soared just above Deeper’s goalie fingertips. 
Referee Saga blew the whistle for the half.  Both sides looked spent, but neither ready to end this match.  The crowd was originally a bit indifferent at seeing this match, treating it only as a warm-up to the final match to follow, but now they applauded.  The girls showed fight, and the teams were well matched. When the whistle blew, Anglican’s offensive power managed a slight edge over Deeper, though both sides played well.  Anglican accepted the GHEI Tournament Cup, and both teams received new uniforms for their participation and fair play.  

Saga’s Analysis: The girl’s game was interesting because the Anglican dominated the first half, and Deeper contributed more in the second half.  Deeper was not able to score because they were clearly tired in the last ten minutes of the game.  The crowd really enjoyed watching the girls play; they played well.
Final Score: Anglican JHS 1- Deeper JHS 0

Anglican JHS celebrates their win
FINAL MATCH: Golden Stars vs. F.C. Barcelona

The sun was shining for the first time this tournament, and the crowds were larger and more excited than ever before.  From the way the crowd excitement, it was clear that heroes would walk off this field.

Golden Stars struck first, and beautifully.  The Stars cleared the ball into F.C.’s side and the striker deftly lifted the ball over the defenders, and then easily beat the keeper inside the box.  The keeper had no chance.  Barcelona responded by upping their game, and the competition became fierce.  Players were getting injured, and referee Happy was reaching for his cards.  By 45, The Golden Stars had managed to keep F.C. Barcelona scoreless despite some good chances and several shots on goal.

Golden Stars (in white) vs F.C. Barcelona (yellow)

At 60 minutes, F.C. Barcelona finally equalized.  A fine centering cross, and on the first shot, F.C. was blocked, but on the rebound off the keeper, Barca’s striker found the back of (where) the net  (should be).  They seemed to regain some of their fight after that. 

Sweat, rocks, and Sefwi flew everywhere.  The teams were intensely dedicated to bringing their sides the win, but also to prove themselves against these worthy opponents.  The crowds grew even more passionate.  Players were flying too, and the whistle was blown for a foul against Golden Stars at the 80’th minute. It was a free kick.  The F.C. player, instead of shooting, passed it to an undefended player who shot the ball in directly.  The crowd erupted in joy, and rushed onto the field.  

F.C. Barcelona did a lap with their fans, hoisting their trophy high in the air, while The Golden Stars somberly accepted the new uniforms.  All five teams that took part received new uniforms, handed to them by Summer Serve and Learn volutneers. Each team should be very proud of their performance, no matter what the outcome was.
A dusty and mighty sliding tackle, but too late for The Golden Stars
Saga’s Analysis: The final match was a great success, but there was a comment on the second goal. Many thought it was offside.  The comment was from Golden Stars fans, so I didn’t believe them because most of the spectators supported the goal.  They played fairly, there were more injuries but that’s normal, the final match is not going to be simple.  There will be difficulties as compared to their normal games that they played. 
Final Score: F.C. Barcelona 2 – The Golden Stars 1

F.C. Barcelona: Humjibre Heroes
 Final thoughts from Saga: The tournament was a success. I think GHEI should do it annually.  According to people, this was the most successful football tournament held in Humjibre.  There were no fights, and everyone enjoyed watching.  Maybe there were no fights because the referees were fair and balanced, but also I think because of the football camp that was held beforehand.

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