Sunday is, of course, match day; one that I approached confidently after my 100% record from the week before. The first game this week saw the two teams Ali managed last week face off as the Ten Hurricanes took on the Serious Cyclones, I was managing the cyclones and was reasonably impressed with a first half performance that saw the team come in 1-0 up at half time after a goal from Rishab. After a team talk in which I told the team that, despite the positives, they had to make sure they released the ball a lot earlier they went back out and scored an early goal in what was in all honesty a pretty disjointed second half before holding on for the 2-0 victory. The next game was easily the best one we have been a part of since our arrival, this one saw me taking the Lightning Strikers, probably my favourite team so far, in their fixture against the table topping Eleven Aces who I managed in a 6-3 victory the week before. After a good warm up led by Captain Prakash I brought the guys in to talk about a number of things I’d noticed the week before. I’d chosen to work with the lightning strikers again as out of the two teams I had managed they were the one I’d found myself thinking about during the week, formulating tactics and positional tweaks that I felt could improve them, the major of these that I unveiled in the teamtalk were moving Nukul, who had played defence in the first game, to play as a ‘hold-up’ man up front with two flying wingers in the form of Vanj and Bist making runs past him, encouraging Prakash to continue in the holding role in which he had excelled last week and ensuring the two defenders stayed a lot closer together and played further up the pitch than the week before. These changes worked fantastically in the early periods of the game as the team came flying out of the blocks, monopolising possession and looking a real threat in attack, with Nukul and Vanj in particular taking to their new roles with relish. Our early dominance was soon reflected in the scoreline as the team sped into a 2-0 lead after goals from both the aforementioned attackers. However Eleven Aces are not top of the league for nothing and after the ‘first quarter’ break they came back strongly, pushing our team increasingly further back and snatching a goal back to ensure the score was 2-1 at half time. After half-time, and despite a teamtalk in which I urged the Lightning Strikers to push forward more it was clear the table-toppers tails’ were up as they steadily pushed my team further and further back, eventually scoring an equaliser after Gatu (who had also scored the first) scored a brilliant lobbed effort after receiving the ball from a goal kick. With the last quarter to come the game was even and I encouraged my team once again to keep their heads up and keep going to the final whistle, a request with which they complied with fantastically well for the majority of the last quarter, defending heroically whilst still carrying a threat on the counter, however just as the game seemed destined for a draw Rahul strode out from the back for the Aces and managed to squeeze the ball inside the post with a long-range drive, winning the game for his team and leaving me gutted on the touchline. Despite the loss I was really happy with the improvement in the Lightning Strikers and the performance of a few players in new positions, especially the previous striker Vanj who deservedly claimed the MoTM award for my team. After a narrow win over the other team near the bottom the week previously the team played really well to run the team who are top by a distance so close in a game which I feel, with a bit more confidence they could have won.
The quality of football in this game from both teams was much improved, a fact which was commented on by Arup and some of the other coaches at its conclusion which hopefully goes to show that our coaching has made a difference even in the short time we’ve been here and really inspires us to help them try and improve even further.
The rest of Sunday was spent chilling out at home as I tried to get over this disappointment, luckily the movie channels excelled themselves as I spent the afternoon alternating between Lord of The Rings and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days before spending the evening watching Hitch which, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, was awesome. After working out the pin code we have taken full advantage over these channels, they are especially welcome as when I was at a loose end after being here a few days I decided to download Hall Pass on Itunes….it’s now been 2 weeks and it currently says it should be ready in 42 hours!
After a couple of hours sleep I was woken up just in time to see Arsenal’s heroic comeback against Villa and, more importantly the return of Le Coq, Hero!
As I’m sure you know Mondays are our day off and today we decided to head into Central Delhi, Arup suggested we go to Connaught Place which is, as far as I can tell, the main shopping area of Delhi and the nearby Jantar Mantar, an ancient observatory. Connaught Place was very different to what I had expected, I envisioned it as a place similar to Central London when it fact it was laid out in two circles, an inner and outer ring with a park in the middle and absolutely loads of rickshaw drivers/guys selling crap on the street and one man who I think wanted to charge me to clean my ear! After walking round the shops, which were mainly big western chains Ali and I decided there wasn’t really that much to see there, apart from one aptly named pizza shop! And decided to head off to Jantar Mantar after an obligatory visit to KFC for lunch. Jantar Mantar was really peaceful, a million miles away from the noise and hustle and bustle just outside it’s gates, a great way to spend a chilled out sunny afternoon in Delhi. Monday was topped off with a beer and a massive Chinese at a local restaurant and of course ages blogging it all up! So with that, im off to bed.. 6am start tomorrow! Night!