I left off my previous post talking about the imminent ISCI 6-a-side World Cup event and, as it was by far the most interesting event of the week it makes sense to start this one in the same vein. After a thoroughly successful and utterly improvised dribbling session with the under-10s at Pancoran on Saturday morning Robbie, Amir and I piled into Reza’s car at 11.01 in an attempt to reach ISCI for our respective sides’ penultimate round of group games starting at 12. Of course, faced with traffic congestion that can turn a five-minute drive into a Odyssey of Ancient Greek proportions this was always going to be ambitious, and so it proved as we crawled what would be a twenty minute drive almost anywhere else in the world and finally arrived at about quarter past. Luckily, as with all football tournaments, the World Cup had already overrun by almost twenty minutes by the time we arrived which meant we had time to find our teams, manage a few quick introductions and get our boots on before the games began. I was joined on the Irish team by Gareth, another SSI coach (and a load of other Irish guys, obviously, entering two players into a 6-a-side tournament would’ve been uncommonly bold) who informed me that we had won our first three group games and were currently topping the group.
With this cushion we headed into our 4th game against the Italians with confidence high, knowing a win would see us through, unfortunately we were unable to maintain the 100% record established before my arrival as a tight game finished in a 1-1 draw. As this was the Italy’s last group game the result left us with a simple equation for our final game against the Spanish, a win would see us top the group whilst a draw or loss by no more than 1 goal would leave us 2nd and ensure qualification. After a sloppy start we went 1-0 down early on after a screamer from the oppositions’ Juan Mata/ Crimson Chin lookalike before we pulled ourselves together and a strong rearguard performance ensured there were no more goals in the game and seeing us through at the expense of the Italians by the virtue of one more goal scored.
After the group games were over there was a break for lunch and a one-on-one tournament featuring one player from each team put on by the ‘Super-Skills’ coaching company who sponsored the tournament. As the youngest members of our teams Robbie, who’s Scotland team had also made it into the quarter finals (at the expense of England), and I were both volunteered to take part and so had just enough time to grab a quick burger before it started. It was whilst in the, very Indonesian (long and slow) queue for these burgers that we met Harsh: an ex-gapper who came to Indonesia with the programme 2 years ago and was back for the week working with Dale, the head and founder of Super Skills with a view to extending the Franchise to the UK . After comparing stories and asking him about life after the gap year the three of us headed over to the one-on-one pitch, where Harsh had also been nominated to represent England. After a quick explanation of the rules; first goal wins, winner stays on and the first four players to three wins reach the semis, we took our places in the queue. After a couple of isolated victories and 0-0’s (which result in both players leaving the field) it was soon my turn to step up, against the representative from team USA. 30 seconds later after a cheeky shimmy followed by a right, yes right, foot finish he was vanquished and I was lined up against my next opponent, a Dutchman. Unfortunately after this maiden victory my next two games fell foul of twin pitfalls that I have always been quite familiar with; laziness and overconfidence as I lost to the Dutchman after a missed opportunity led to a quick counter which I couldn’t conjure up the energy to chase back before, when my next turn came, I thought I couldn’t possibly lose against the Chinese player- a notion soon proven woefully inaccurate as my showboating, instead of leaving him mesmerised, only served to provide him with an opportunity to shrug me off the ball and score one of the quickest goals of the day. In between my losses Robbie fought valiantly in a close loss to the representative from Brazil who eventually reached the final where he was defeated, much to the pleasure of the crowd, by Jules’ son and fellow De Hooi Nomad Patti (whose name I’ve just woefully misspelt) to ensure the prize went back to team Cameroon (who were also in the quarters, against Iran).
After the culmination of this tournament it was time to get back to the 6-a-sides where we were drawn against the Brazilians in the quarters with the rest of the draw being made up of France/Scotland, Chile/Spain and as I mentioned Cameroon/Iran. Despite going into the game as major underdogs we started brightly and had the majority of the early possession and chances before going behind after a slick counter. After this goal the opposition went into showboating mode and despite a few chances bringing some decent saves out of their keeper we couldn’t break them down and eventually fell to a close, and brave defeat as Brazil moved on to play the victorious Scots in the semis. What followed was undoubtedly the game of the day as the Scots, supported by the vast majority of the already eliminated sides, stormed into an early lead provided by Simon, the head of SSI coaching and our boss. Clearly shocked at conceding early what followed from the Brazilians was pathetic as a series of niggly fouls and petty arguments were followed by disgraceful scenes as three or four of their team, angry at the sinbinning of one of the compatriots, started pushing the referee before one of them decided to put him in a headlock which resulted in a stoppage as the Indonesian referee refused to continue and was replaced by a no-nonsense Aussie. This appalling behaviour only served to place any of the remaining neutrals firmly in the Scottish camp and the rest of the game was played to a soundtrack of abuse for the boys in yellow, with the finalist of the one on ones in particular coming in for a lot of, thoroughly deserved, stick (being, in the words of esteemed fellow Arsenal gapper Nathan Hackett, a complete an utter Tuesday). Unfortunately the altercation only seemed to galvanise the Brazilians as they equalised soon after their sinbinned teammate was allowed back on before sneaking a winner in extra time securing their progress into the finals where they would meet Iran, a victory they hardly dealt with gracefully as one joker started mouthing off to Simon about Brazil’s actual World Cup victories as if he played any part in them; basically the same as me going around with a tin foil medal on my chest and getting everyone to call me Sir Steve.
The final itself was an entertaining game and noteworthy as possibly the most popular Iran have ever been in any international arena, as led by Amir, Majid and (im pretty sure) Marouane Chamakh they triumphed on penalties and were joined by me and Robbie for the victory pictures with the trophy before everyone headed to the bar where we ended up doing shots with the Russian team before, clearly out of our depth, we went home and managed about 10 minutes of the Holland game before giving up and going to sleep. Top day.
In terms of coaching this week has been quite a quiet one, the day after the World Cup we took our routine two sessions at ISCI with the u-14 and 16 soccer school groups for control sessions before heading to a couple of Super Skills sessions with Dale on Monday in order to get an idea of their philosophy before they set up in the U.K. As they don’t play football matches in a traditional sense, focusing on one-on-ones, the sessions are very different to any we have seen before, focusing purely on touch and dribbling and, as such, were interesting to watch. Other than that we have largely been working with other coaches taking components of sessions, although on Tuesday we worked with the ‘progressive’ under-16 group; the best players in the programme, for the first time, taking a really enjoyable movement/shooting session in which we were able to utilize their superior ability to work on slightly more complex topics.
With the start of the Euros coinciding with the end of the Indonesian school year our days have pretty much fallen into the pattern of staying up late for the football, waking up late and heading to ISCI to coach before dinner and numerous episodes of entourage (Robbie was right, Ari is an absolute hero) before starting it all over again. The only real change to that came on Thursday with our first game for ISCI for a couple of weeks in which a strong ISCI side featuring six SSI employees absolutely hammered pretty weak local opposition 5-1 a scoreline which should have been even more if it wasn’t for the
selfish singlemindedness of our strikers. Personally I had the privilege of playing in front of two ex-international centre backs (Jules and Sunday) and bagged an assist, good game all round.
Finally our week was topped off by heading into Kembang to watch the England game at Murphys with Simon, his wife and a few of their friends (one of whom, Chaz, was also born in Chase Farm Hospital) where we had the privilege of watching the hero that isTheo Walcott do more in 30 minutes than Milner has done in 150, before heading back to Chaz’s place for some celebratory Bintangs.
P.S. England are gonna win the whole thing on Pens, I know that i’m right because that other day I turned to Robbie and informed him Lescott was going to score mere seconds before he did.