(from The Oceanian, by OrangeStar)
GM-Cyntech’s World Cup Qualification campaign is kicking along nicely, with The Slugs producing an emphatic second half performance last Friday night to claim a comeback win over Indonesia in front of over 135,000 fans at El Stadio de Grizzly. Playing away from home, Indonesia appeared defensive from the start, opting for a 4-5-1 formation and attempting to press Oceania’s chances away. The defensive approach seemed to work in the opening minutes, with Indonesia keeping the ball bogged down in midfield; The Slugs couldn’t make any inroads on attack. Things started to look worse for Cyntech when, just after the half hour mark, an Indonesian corner routine made Oceania look like a bunch of amateurs; Eughan Bowman looked stunned when he had to pick the ball out of the back of his net.
Chances are we won’t see Roni Rifat representing his country for a little while. With the Indonesians holding a narrow lead, Rifat attempted two late, rash tackles in the space of five minutes, both bookable offences, and was asked to beat the rush to the showers by the referee; dismissed from the game after just 40 minutes. The send off turned the tide in favour of The Slugs, though it took until part way through the second half for Oceania to break through on the scoreboard. Gatjil Plant equalised for The Slugs in the 62nd minute, before thundering a chance against the crossbar just six minutes later. Oceania were forcing Indonesia back under massive pressure; Jeff Caten made a speedy run past the offside trap in the 73rd, but was closed out by the visiting ‘keeper before he could get a shot off. It was only a matter of time though, and Troy Buko turned the threat of a goal into reality just a minute later, giving Oceania a 2-1 lead. Despite some desperate substitutions from the Indonesian manager, not even fresh legs could get the better of The Slugs. Oceania held out for the remaining 15 minutes to clinch the win and another vital three points.
Belarus also maintained their presence at the top end of the group, defeating Armenia 3-1, with Georgia also piling on the pressure after their 2-1 victory at home to Iran. Mongolia produced the shock of the round when they pulled out the defensive performance of the campaign so far to hold out for an historic 2-1 victory over top seeds Luxembourg despite almost a 40-point HatStat deficit.
The win sees Mongolia jump to fourth on the table, a very respectable position after just five matches. Luxembourg sit just a point behind the nation the shocked them last weekend, leading Indonesia, Iran and Armenia. The top of the table is where things get interesting, though. Belarus hold a goal difference lead over Oceania, with both Top Two teams sitting on eleven points, while Georgia sits just a point outside the Qualification Places, ready to pounce on any mistake from the leaders. At this early stage, the Qualifiers look to be turning into a three-horse race; Georgia are four points clear of fourth-placed Mongolia.
Tonight, Luxembourg will be out to reclaim the points they lost to Mongolia as they travel to play Indonesia, a nation they’ve never lost a competitive match to. Mongolia will attempt to defy the odds with their massive defence two weeks in a row as they host group-leaders Belarus, while Armenia will be trying to secure their first competitive win against what appears to be a very strong Georgian outfit; a result that would be their first victory over the Georgians since the first meeting of the two countries in 2007.
It will be interesting to see which Iranian side will line up against The Slugs tonight. Will we see the ultra-defensive outfit that was able to hold Belarus to a draw, or will it be the all-round squad that suffered defeat at the hands of Georgia last week? This will be the third week in a row Iran has met one of the top three teams in the group; we feel they may opt to go more defensive because of this. However, playing at home may give them confidence should they choose to play a more attacking style. Oceania had consecutive 2-0 wins against Iran last time these teams met in the World Cup Qualifiers (Global Season 42), and Cyntech will no doubt want to keep this run going. Will The Slugs be able to continue their undefeated start to the qualifiers against the second of the defensive juggernauts in this group? Only time will tell.
|376979950||Oceania – 2||Indonesia – 1|
|Midfield||world class (low)||formidable (high)|
|Right Defence||world class (high)||utopian (high)|
|Central Defence||world class (very low)||magical (very high)|
|Left Defence||supernatural (very low)||utopian (high)|
|Right Attack||titanic (very low)||poor (very high)|
|Central Attack||formidable (very low)||weak (low)|
|Left Attack||supernatural (high)||inadequate (very high)|
|Indirect set pieces|
|Defence||outstanding (low)||outstanding (very low)|
|Attack||solid (very high)||passable (very high)|
|Tactic skill||(no tactic)||outstanding|
|Average midfield||world class (low)||formidable (high)|
|Average defence||world class (high)||utopian (low)|
|Average attack||magnificent (very high)||weak (high)|
|Total average||world class (low)||brilliant (low)|