The second game of a soggy Sunday was far more entertaining than the first. For all Auckland City’s mastery of possession allows them a solid platform to attack from at whatever speed they choose, there’s something very exciting about two teams who decide that the best way to win a game is to try and score in a breakneck fashion.
Lae City Dwellers make their Champions League debut this year and the Papua New Guinea side certainly started brightly, sliding connecting passes together in midfield and attempting to release their No.10 down the left side. The more experienced Amicale knew that they would need to score at least 4 to top the group, following Auckland’s dismantling of the Solomon Warriors earlier.
For half an hour the rookie side were in it, competing hard for the ball and creating chances. The Lae strategy of firing passes for the speedy Raymond Gunemba was repetetive, but a lesser defender than Amicale’s Diego Galvao would have struggled with the Lae captain’s pace.
It was niggly, with Adam Dickinson – formerly of the NZFC – and Lae’s Mosie Milubwa being carded for argy bargy at a corner. But the experience of Amicale soon showed as they flowed forward. Ian Hogg’s ball into the area was mishit by Milubwa, allowing Dickinson in to put Amicale ahead. The brightly kitted Warisan, in goal for Lae City, got a hand to it but couldn’t claw it out.
It was two within ten minutes, Giorgio Bertacchi’s outside of the boot pass split the defence and Octav Meltecoin unselfishly squared the ball, with the Lae defence committed, for Dickinson to grab his second.
Half Time: Lae City Dwellers 0 – 2 Amicale
Whatever coach Peter Gunemba said to Lae City at half time obviously fired them up, and Amicale had their Italian keeper Mauro Boerchio to thank that the PNG team weren’t at least level before the hour mark.
A cheeky dinked free-kick bounced off a Lae shoulder, and suddenly everything the men in green tried almost paid off. First Nigel Dabinya was denied at point blank range by Boerchio, who beat away a Michael Foster effort a minute later. The ball fell to the feet of Joachim Waroi and yet again the big Italian was to deflect the ball out for a corner. From the corner he acrobatically soared to prevent a snap shot after the ball had evaded everyone in the six yard box. And that, as far as Lae’s attacking was concerned, was that.
If you don’t take your chances at the top level, you’ll regret it. And Lae City did, as Amicale reasserted control over the game, Dickinson rattling the crossbar before Argentinian Diego Nadaya continued his scoring form by slotting past Warisan.
That wasn’t the end of the entertainment though with Bertacchi pulling off a rabona cross that sadly didn’t make the highlights, lovely technique though Giorgio!
Then, chaos. Utter chaos. A Lae City corner in the last ten minutes saw almost every green shirt in the box, with their keeper Warisan stationed on the half way line. The ball was cleared to him and he attempted to cross it into the box, Amicale were quick to rush out and the headed ball fell to Warisan’s feet as he faced his own goal.
What followed was almost a Benny Hill sketch, with Amicale’s Hogg and Nadaya chasing the luckless keeper with the ball at his feet. He went down near the edge of the box, regained his feet but was sent sprawling by a dummy. The ball was delivered into the box and eventually cleared off the line.
Full Time: Lae City Dwellers 0 – 3 Amicale F.C
Lae City against Solomon Warriors will be an entertaining game, as both teams place far more impetus on scoring goals and neat footwork. For them, the goal difference will be important as they chase second place in the group.
A bigger test will be Auckland’s game against Amicale. Both will be looking for the points to take the top spot in the group. Again, it’s all about that goal difference.
Categories: OFC Champions League
John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.