South Auckland Rangers 2, Internationale 0
Rongomai Park, Auckland, April 25 2015
When you head off to a preliminary round Chatham Cup match, you never know quite what you are in for. No Northern League teams are involved in this early stage of our national cup competition and most of the minnows have byes too. So what you are left with are the real grassroots teams sorting themselves out before the big kids start getting involved. Chances are, unless you are connected with one of the protagonists in some way, if you turn up to one of these early games there is at least one club out of the two that you previously had no idea existed. Today, for me, that club was Internationale FC.
I had never heard of them before but I was quite curious to find out their story. Would they be a poor, sad, no doubt well-meaning but ultimately misguided bunch of New Zealand supporters of the most evil football club in the known universe – Internazionale, better known as Inter Milan? Would they be a vastly less misguided New Zealand version of Roma legend Falcao’s former club – Porto Allegre’s Internacional? Or would they be, as Phil Clayton terrifyingly suggested on Twitter, some kind of craft beer loving hipster outfit – Internation Ale? I’m not sure which spectre struck more fear into the depths of my soul, the first or the third…
The truth is, I was secretly hoping for a fourth option – that they would turn out to be a bunch of grey bearded Marxist revolutionaries playing in red and humming this to themselves:
But alas, it was none of the above. It turns out, I was told, that Internationale Football Club was started a few years ago by a teacher at an English language school who put a team together largely from international students. Since then, they have grown to become current defending champions of the Auckland Sunday Football Association’s premier division based at Western Springs.
Why the French spelling of the word international? I wasn’t able to ask anyone who could tell me. But I did seek and duly received guarantees from sources close to the team that none of the players and/or management are Inter fans, and that their choice to play in genuine 2008/09 Inter away kits is purely because “they like the colours”. Sounds like a likely story but, for the purposes of this post, with my beloved Roma playing my most disliked team in the world at 6:45am tomorrow morning, I am choosing to let it go!!!
As it happened, if today was an omen for how tomorrow morning will go, I’ll take it! The AFF/NFF Conference team, South Auckland Rangers, wearing shirts that if you squint a little bit almost look like they could be Roma colours, showed themselves to be a class above their lower ranked opponents. This was largely due to one man – a player called Jonas Nacewo. He earned the penalty that gave his side a hard fought first half lead, and slotted it too, then in the second half it was his long range effort that curled in and polished off the visitors.
Very sadly he wasn’t able to stick around to see the final fruits of his labour after a bad concussion saw him rushed off to A&E. I’m sure I speak for everyone, present today or not, when I say I really hope he makes a speedy recovery and would appreciate, if he’s reading this, a quick comment to say he’s ok!
It was an open game fought in a great spirit. I only recall seeing two yellow cards, both to the same player, which saw the home side down to ten men for the last couple of minutes. Not bad for two teams of this kind of calibre! A great way to start Chatham Cup 2015. Roll on the next round.
Categories: NZ Chatham Cup
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.