Thursday, July 23
It was pre-game sat around the conference room turned players lounge, coach Donovan was at the whiteboard the players sat intently listening to the final instructions before taking the field to warm-up. They looked focused and ready, with a confidence in the air to go out and set straight the missed opportunity of the day before…..
The whistle went and the NJ ALLSTARS set about taking the game to today’s opposition, the highly rated Changsa Yali Middle School making their 4th appearance at the Beijing Cup. They have also played at the Dallas Cup in Texas twice. It was not long before the American side started to find their rhythm, popping the ball from side to side with a purpose that was somewhat lacking the day before. The Chinese side seemed happy let players have time on the ball which allowed the ALLSTARS to create good opportunities down the flanks and through the middle, just lacking the final pass or run to finish the play. The ball then popped up on the right hand side after some high pressing from Bell, a neat little interplay and Bizub found himself with a yard of space alongside the 18, touch out of his feet passed the defender with great speed and rides the challenge, he takes a look up and fires a driven cross across the goal for Panizza who make a nice run from the far side to meet the cross and slot into the corner of the goal from 5 yards….1-0 and the crowd goes wild!
From this moment on the boys never looked back, going from strength to strength in the game. The second goal came from the left hand side with a great solo effort from Panizza. After good pressure again on the left hand side the ball popped to Panizza 30 yards from goal, he picked it up turned and ran at the defense, driving between two players, ghosting past another before hitting the byline turning back to beat a player, rounding the goalie and placing in the corner, 2-0 AllSTARS.
The second half went much of the same way for the NJ ALLSTARS with the American side dictating the majority of the play. If you didn’t know better you would assume that the team have been together for a lot longer than they have with a cohesiveness starting to form on the field, a mutual respect and a willingness to work for each other. With Hadly Jnr. keeping things solid in the middle of the park, Bell and Bull were given full range to push on and test the opposition both coming close, Bull with a brilliant free kick which whistled over the bar. It was Panizza who sealed the game after a scramble in the area and the Chinese side failing to clear the ball dropped to Panizza who lashed home from inside the area. 3 goals for Panizza, 3-0 to the ALLSTARS and a much needed 3 points.
The Chinese side had a late rally which produces 2 good saves from Kahn after a player broke into the area and off a free kick from 20 yeards. The backline stayed resolute and held out for the clean sheet.
This sets up a tasty final game tomorrow (Friday) against the Korea High School Football League, who with two wins already will provide tough opposition for the team from NJ in a must win game!
The boys took the morning to visit one of Beijing and China’s most famous landmarks, The Forbidden City. Taking 14 years to build you could certainly spend just as long visiting all the places within this very unique and impressive man made structure. The team and parents took a guided tour through the mile long former home of Emperors that housed Chinese royalty for over 500 years up until 1925. The boys enjoyed a foot massage (seen below) courtesy of the Emperors walkway which leads through the entirety of the gardens, used to find moments of tranquility.
The players then also experienced a local Chinese living suburb with guide to see the ‘real Beijing’.
Tune in tomorrow to find out the next adventure of the NJ ALLSTARS and see the result from the all important clash with the select team from Korea, kick off 3.30pm.