The dark clouds were looming ominously over Ziwani grounds, often a sign of an impeding difficult time. As the Uprising team walked into the pitch to warm up, it seemed like they knew the difficult time would not be the weather.
The pitch itself was largely playable but had a few muddy patches and one water logged area. Given the rains that have been pounding the city, this is the best we could have expected from a field literally famous for The Rain is Coming (Koth Biro) tournament.
The game started in a predictable fashion, Tandaza dominating the play and the opponents trying to hit on counter-attacks. Completely against the run of play though, a hopeful and innocuous punt by an opponent into our 18 area was met by miscommunication between our keeper and his defense. This gifted an opponent a simple header that went over our keeper and into the net. 1 nil down early in the first few minutes.
The sky was clearing but the dark ominous hurricane was now ready to cause havoc; the hurricane was Byron, Walt, Kasee and Marvo. It was all downhill now for Uprising after scoring the fluke goal. Byron was raining on the right, Marvo pounding from the centre, it was hailstorm on the left from Kasee and Walt cutting down the opponents from deep-midfield. Byron had attack after attack on the right, running the fullback again and again to the byline and delivering perfect cutbacks which were not well met or were cleared in panic by the defense. If it were a boxing match, the defender marking Byron was ready to throw in the towel. Marvo in the centre was physically imposing, his link play imperious, always on the prowl looking for a goal. In one move he received the ball from the left, over powered his marker and tore free for a one on one with the keeper. Unfortunately his well taken short went agonizingly off. Luck was not smiling on Marvo; we got a penalty and Marvo was handed a chance to get his first goal for the team but once again, his well taken kick was telegraphed by the keeper to deny him.
Meanwhile, on the left, Kasee was being his usual self, devastatingly sharp, cutting through the defense like hot knife through butter. On one move, having drifted more central, had a one two with a teammate and executed a near perfect short from outside the 18 area. All the keeper could do was dive towards the ball more in hope and saving face than a real attempt to save the ball. Sadly the shot hit the upright and bounced off. Walt was suffering most from undue close attention from the opponents with foul after foul on him. But he was relentless from the mid, taking the opponents on merry go rounds across the field, and jumping up and down to ‘reggae tunes’ every time he had the ball to his feet. Receiving the ball from mid, he went on a slalom into the opponent’s area, faked right, faked left, passed to Olii and continued his run. Olii controlled, seemed to pause everything around him except Walt’s continued run, then it happened; a Xavi inspired pass from Olii to perfectly meet Walt on the run – Walt took it in stride, jinxed right to leave the keeper on his backside and majestically tapped into the open net. 1-1 on the 45th minute.
If we were unlucky not to have scored more in the first half, then the bad luck continued in the second half. It started as the first had ended, constant attack on the Uprising goal. One-twos on the right, one-twos on the left, shots from centre. Walt hit the woodwork. The opponents keeper was earning his allowance with aplomb. The second goal finally came – quick thinking from Kasee freed Walt to bury and ease our nerves.
The second goal seemed to inspire the opponents as they seemed to wake-up finally and launch a few attacks of their own. One of the attacks was not fully cleared in time but when it was, the linesman somehow saw an infringement on an opponent. He was literally the only one who saw the ghost foul as even the centre ref was bemused by it and had to go close to him to consult. The ref came from the consultation pointing to the penalty for the opponents despite our protestations. We shouldn’t have worried because Musa was in control, saving the penalty and the followup.
The status quo was restored after the penalty; Tandaza’s attack after attack, opponents hitting on counters. The counters were beginning to look scarier and scarier as the clock ticked towards the 90th minute. We were desperate for a third goal to seal the result. Well, cometh the hour, cometh the man – Kasee received a ball from the newly introduced, Caleb, he dashed off as if to the left of the 18 area, pulled a marker with him, stopped, started, stopped again, jinxed left but turned right, seemed to blow the ball from his right foot, slowly like a feather floating towards goal, over the keeper and seemingly over the post but just dinked in the final push to bend inside the far right up corner. Simply a moment of magic to give us the third goal. It was all over now. we were into added time after the 90th minute. No more time for any injury time. Well, it should have been all over but somehow the ref was still playing on. Just before he blew for the end, the opponents got a freekick in a dangerous place. A hopeful kick up found an unmarked attacker who guided it past Musa to make it 2 for the opponent making it a win for us, 3 – 2 at the end.
We started with Musa between the posts. Shem, Makori, Left and Olii made up the back 4. Justo and Gody ran the midfield as Walt linked them to Kasee, Marvo and Byron. Caleb and Keegan came in late in the second half to replace Marvo and Byron.
Next up…Equity then Dimba.