The Barbarians A Team knew that the second league game of the season for was going to be a true test, as we were up against Afrika United, one of the favourites to win the league. The Barbars started with the same lineup that started against Sexy the previous week, with the exceptions of Phil (in for Dave) in the back and Sevrin for Keith in goal. The Barbs bench was particularly strong this week, with Keith, Carlos, Thomas, and Henry ready to come in and contribute.
The bench would be called upon early, as Afrika scored with their first attack down the left side. Just a few minutes later, the Africans got their second goal with almost a carbon copy move down the left. The Barbarians were still half asleep and had yet to show what they could do. The game was in desperate need of a good crunching tackle and a competitive edge, but unfortunately the referee wouldn't allow for some fair, hard tackling. The linesman bench side was definitely a fudge packer.
Early changes saw Carlos join the midfield. It's widely known that Mr. Muniz needs no invitation to throw some tackles in, and his agressive play ignited the rest of the team. Suddenly Stewart, Nathan, and the rest of boys were now throwing it around. The Africans were going down like pussies, and yellow cards were being handed out like sweets in a paedo's playground.
Soon the Africans were down to ten men after a crunching tackle from Nathan left their number 19 with at least a triple fracture, a broken spleen, and dislocated knee -- or at least that's what his bloodcurdling scream would have suggested! Somehow he lived through the tackle and made it to the sideline, leaving the bench-less Africans with 10 players.
He must not have been that good of a player anyway, because his team played better football without him. The Barbarians should take heart from the fact that when we played football, it looked good and we stayed in the game. However, these moments were simply too far and few between. Through some good defending and keeper play we managed to hold them to just one more goal in the half, though it could have been a lot worse.
Halftime: Barbarians 0-3 Afrika United
Keith the Badger started the second half and wasted no time in showing some of the young lads what sticking it in means. He found a suitable target in number 19, who not only had not perished from his first-half wounds but was up and running around the pitch (in a pair of plimsoles, no less). It was as if he hadn't been injured at all. Truly remarkable. Anyway, Keith offered the young man some, ahem, words of encouragement.
In parts the Barbarians were looking like a team of decent ballers, with a back four that by all accounts could hold its own against most teams. Henry was doing a fine job at right back, and Lawrence was stroking the ball out of the back left nicely. Andrew, with his last gasp tackles, was not giving up without a fight. Dale, having put his back out, was soon replaced by Thomas in left midfield. Despite their heroic efforts, however, the Barbarians found themselves down 4-0 and then 5-0 due to strong African attacks down the middle.
The Barbars salvaged a bit of dignity late in the game as Kevin made a smooth move down the left side and smashed home a shot from inside the box! A deserved goal for Kev and the hard working forwards. Soon after, Kev found himself in front of the African centre back, who decided he wanted to showboat a bit. MISTAKE! Kev, who was already riled up (as is his wont), dished out a well-deserved kick at the opponent and was rewarded with a well-deserved yellow card for his efforts.
The game would end at 5-1, but it was played far closer than the score was suggest. The Barbars can walk away having learned some valuable lessons in the competing and getting stuck in early. All joking aside, Afrika are a technically gifted and well-organised team that will surely contend for the IFFC title.
Barbarians will be playing Russia after the October break. As we were put out of the Cup competition by the Russians, this will offer us a good opportunity for some revenge.
Match report by Moses Kiptinui