The whole mundialito experience was a very exciting one. It’s a competition that all the top clubs in world compete in and we are very fortunate to represent our region in this prestigious event. The tournament started with the opening ceremony where all the competing teams parade around the stadium in front of thousands of fans.
We started the tournament well with a 2-2 draw against Brazilian giants, SC Brazil. We went 1-0 down in the first 10 minutes as some of our players were nervous, and have never played in front of big crowds before. On the stroke of half time our star player Raif Al – Busaidi scored a great individual attempt taking on 3 of SC Brazil’s players and scoring. In the second half our nerves had settled and we looked like the dominant side. A few saves from man mountain Mees Eppink kept us in the game whilst the crossbar and post kept us out.
It wasn’t long before SC Brazil’s captain got on the score sheet with an unstoppable long range goal which put them 2-1 up. The game had a few minutes left and we needed to show some fight to try and get a result out of the game. As we kicked off again, SC Brazil were rampant with another attack and a shot at the end of it which Mees Eppink dealt with and released a counter attack. We caught them off guard with immediately Raif Al- Busaidi taking on the SC Brazil defence down the left hand side and Lewis Junge with a lung bursting run straight down the centre of the field as Raif squared the ball across the box and Lewis was there to seal the equaliser.
All in all very good performance against one of Brazil’s biggest clubs and I think we’ll deserved point for the players. The rest of the tournament followed and MFA were sitting second in the group only losing to Deportivo la coruña. In to the knockout stages we went and we breezed past the round of 16 with a 4-0 win over Canadian soccer academy, and followed it with a 7-1 thumping over Flores fc in the quarterfinals. On came the semi finals against another professional Spanish club.
We started the game very slow and we looked nervous from the off. It wasn’t long before Taragona C.F went 2-0 up and the MFA boys had there heads drop. A few vital words of motivation from head coach Chuck Martini spurred some life into our boys as Raif Al- Busaidi scored out of nothing to bring us back into the game. As we scored our goal Taragona C.F took advantage of a high foot that the referee hadn’t seen and capitalised on it putting them 3-1 up. With half time approaching, a free kick on the edge of the Taragona C.F area was given. None other than freekick specialist Lewis Junge stepped up to stroke it under the wall for our second goal on the lay kick of the half. Half time and the score was 3-2 but we knew the boys could do better.
Second half and MFA were tired and were struggling to deal with the Taragona C.F’s waves of attack as they scored another goal to make it 4-2, and greater troubles arose as a Taragona C.F penalty was given. They scored to make it 5-2 and surely the game was over. But MFA were in no position to give up when Aiham Al- Shamsi stepped up to scored a penalty to make it 5-3. Could there be a chance? Another MFA free kick awarded 20 yards away from goal. As Lewis Junge stepped up, coach Chuck Martini urged him to shoot from a long way out. He executed this with a perfect and precise goal top corner with the Taragona C.F scrambling to try and get near it. 5-4 with a few minutes left. Recurring onslaughts of MFA attack had Taragona C.F pegged right back into there own half as we missed some vital chances.
The biggest talking point of the game was when Raif Al-Busaidi’s shot crossed the line for the equaliser and the referee did not deem it as a goal. However the video evidence clearly showed this was a bad decision made by the official, but it happens in football. The tournament was over for us. All in all the boys enjoyed every minute of it, gauging themselves against some very good players and seeing what they needed to do to be in there position. It was nice to have got the furthest out of all the MFA teams and have them all support us in the semifinals, but next year we will take it one step further and aim for the final.
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— وكالةالأنباءالعمانية (@OmanNewsAgency) April 13, 2017