A mighty team spirit was already palpable at Noi Ba airport when the Duracelts boarded the plane to Kuala Lumpur.
On arrival, the motivation and eagerness to compete did not fade throughout the evening. Despite our exhaustion from the journey and some hard training (and maybe just a little beer drinking!) in the past weeks, the stamina and enthusiasm to display some new found football skills was evident for all to see.
A Strategic Players Committee was formed and following a meeting (which was held in the guest house courtyard) in the afternoon, a list of secret, smart and efficient strategies were devised:
Strategy 1 : the normal strategy
Strategy 2 : if Strategy 1 fails try another one
Strategy 3 : if their midfields are taller than ours; pass the ball directly to the forwards
Strategy 4 : pass the ball to Catherine for scoring….
Strategy 17 : in order to cause a distraction; run around topless
Strategy 45 : if the strategies don’t work; sack the Strategy Committee
And so on.
After a healthy Chinese meal at a street food stall in KL, a token amount of Guinness was sampled at the local Irish pub, Finnegan’s. A disciplined Duracelts team then went quietly to bed to nervously ponder on the following days exploits.
We arrived at the pitch singing our favourite anthem, the Vietnam- Ho Chi Minh one; which apart from giving us more will to win, also brought on heavy rain that immediately reminded us of happy days in Bangkok and for some….. a ‘soft drop of rain’ at home in Ireland. Happily Hannah had come from London with brand new GAA gloves, now we could at least catch a very wet ball!
The Duracelts demonstrated good football during their first game against Malaysia. Fast pace and good passes allowed us to score points and goals in the first half. We could practice our soloing skills as any bouncing on the soaked ground would end up in a mud bath. Trish, Sarah, Franziska, Nicole and Hannah did a grand job in the backs, passing over to Catherine, Elisa, Trang or Hanh, who would then handle the ball to Claire, Marion or Angelika for scoring. Claire scored an amazing goal in that one. Thu was fully awake in the goals, catching the balls quickly and kicking them out to the midfield. In the second half the desperate Orang Eire strengthened their defence, but it was not enough to defeat us and it was a great win for the Duracelts.
Then we had Singapore A – one of the top squads. The Duracelts’ strategic committee showed a good ability to adapt the team to the Singaporean threat. Despite the highly skilled and accomplished opposition, we had an excellent game against them going down by only 2 goals.
Singapore B was a very tough game also. The rain had stopped by then and the sun was bright, drying the pitch but also hitting hard on the Celts. Our fierce defence prevented Singapore from scoring goals and they could only go for points. We had quite a tough time with their strong and tall midfield, who were excellent at catching balls. We could only score one point in that game and we were a little bit disappointed ending up with 0-1 to 0-6. Then our second last game was against Thailand/Malaysia. For this game we moved players around and rested some for the next match.
Excellent defending from Hannah; Nicole and Hanh led to some good positioning and healthy aggressiveness. Catherine stood in the goals in order to let Thu demonstrate her field skills as a forward with Angelika and Claire. The midfielders Trang and Franziska, displayed stylish catching skills from the kick outs and never gave up throughout.. We did not make it to the final; but our win against Malaysia allowed us to play for 3rdplace…Alas it was not to be.
After a long day with lots of matches and it was tough playing the last one in the heat. We lost that by one point (0-2 to 0-1) so we came 4th overall. However, there was definitely not much between us and the other teams. We were able to adapt the team to different opponents and to use our skills in an efficient way. The tournament also highlighted our weaknesses, especially our difficulties to score when the defence is strong; We will work on that!
All in all though, the feedback from those who watched the team in Bangkok stated that the Duracelts have come a long way, play more consistent, stylish football and have a dogged, determined passion for the game which is infectious and evident for everyone to see. At the party that night, in the resplendent Crown Plaza Hotel, the most valuable player for the tournament was awarded to Marion, so the Duracelts brought a cup home!
Ladies, what are we gonna do today? Kick some asses!!
~ The Duracelts ~