From a sluggish start to world beaters in 5 games!
We arrived at the tournament with bags of confidence after a successful pre tournament fixture program. The game plan was to pass and move like the Liverpool team of the 80’s and Arsenal invincibles of 2004. The plan was to combat our lack of physical strength with a passing and moving style that would not allow other teams to get close and leave them dizzy chasing the ball.
Sadly after the first game we were given a footballing lesson by Alice Smith’s own version of Gareth Bale. He scored all 4 and we lost 4 – 0. What was more frustrating was that the boys themselves knew that they could have produced so much more.
A change in formation in the second game against Tanglin Trust School brought a change of fortunes. Reverting to the ‘Christmas Tree’ formation brought a greater stability at the back and allowed Daan to play more like Bobby Moore than Roger Moore and Huko to be more like Cannavaro than can of beans. The added stability of Riki meant Rei, Sam, Jordan and others had more freedom and confidence to go forward and get us goals. They certainly did just that to produce an impressive 4 -1 win.
The third game was a loss against the eventual Gold medal winners led by 2 Patana players who looked as if they may have driven there in their own cars after taking the day off work to play. After a solid performance the resilient Dragons ended up losing 4 -1. The goal scored by Riki after a great team effort was a sign of things to come.
At this stage in the tournament, it was time for the boys to be reminded that before they can play that free flowing football expected from such a talented squad, they have to earn the right to play, and that requires hard work and someone to set an example. Looking around I wasn’t sure who that person was going to be, but to my pleasant surprise Ryotaro arrived centre stage. After surviving a missed penalty that was unfairly awarded for handball the boys discovered a spirit that had not been seen before in the tournament. The referee stopped me to check that there was not 3 Ryotaro’s playing on the pitch because he seemed to be everywhere. He was even rumoured to be in goal at one stage but this was unconfirmed. The other boys fed off his enthusiasm and before you knew it, the host tournament favourites were on their way to their first loss after Sam bravely finished off a wonderful team goal. BIS Jakarta had won 3 out of 3 before they played a resurgent Dragons team and as much as they huffed and puffed they could not blow the Dragons house down. Even a wonderful last minute 25-yard wonder strike could not reach the net after a flying Jordan (Superman esque) plucked the ball out of the air as if he was picking cherries from a tree.
In true Dragons style the best was saved till last. With a newfound confidence the boys were truly inspired after their win over BIS. They ran out 7 – 0 winners and played some of the best football seen by any team in the tournament. A hatrick from Rei, and goals from Shun and Sam ensured the score line reflected the free flowing football that we dreamed of at the pre tournament training camp. There was even time for Riki to score a sublime volley that was reminiscent of Mark Hughes or Marco Van Basten in their heyday.
When reviewing the overall performance of the boys it must be said that they conducted themselves with absolute class throughout and were great ambassadors for GIS. A little piece of me will always wonder what might have been if we had started as strongly as we finished and if we really did have 3 Ryotaro’s?
Congratulations on a great effort boys!
Jordan, Riki, Shun, Huko, Daan, Rei, Jordan, Sam and Ryotaro.
Exciting times and great signs for the future.