The 2011-2012 IFFC season kicked off with the Barbarians A taking on Russia United in the IFFC Cup competition. After two weekends of practice games the Barbarians fielded an almost entirely new squad to that which finished last season. An influx of new players eagerly awaited to impress and stake a regular claim to the team. With many of the old Barbarians having moved on or not available, the fresh blood came just in time. The team lined up as follows:
- Goalkeeper: Carlos
- Defence: Keith Bradbury, Dave Carini, Laurence Garner, Andrew Robertson
- Midfield: Nathan Dilliway, Will Panza, John Thompson, Dale Wong
- Strikers: Big Kev Plume, Dirk Van Elzen
- Bench: Stewart Fry, Henry Manuel, Thomas Santini, Giambattista Santopolo
The game started at en even pace, and the Barbarians deftly contained the threat of the Russians' right-sided attacks. Furthermore it was pleasure to see this new group team passing the ball out of the back into midfield and then looking to find Kevin Plume with Dirk drifting just off him.
The first half saw some crunching tackle, with Nathan in a particular mood for putting himself about. The first round of subs came with 15 minutes left in the half: Stewart in for John in the middle of the defense, Henry in for Dale, and Will coming off for someone else. The half ended with few chances and attempts but with some very good battles in midfield. Carlos made two excellent saves to deny the Russian strikers (one of whom was the ex-Fatty from the Italians. Still Fat but no longer with Italians)
The second half began with Russians upping their threat down the right side, through their star player (and one of the stars of the IFFC). By this time Giamba had fitted in nicely at right back in place of Dave C., and Thomas was playing the holding defensive midfielder whilst Stewart pushed upfront. The changes continued throughout the second half.
The Russians finally managed scored on a nice move down the right wing, with a final cross into the box for their clearly offside striker to slot home. New season, same old crap performance from the officials who still do not know the offside rule. Pressure was mounting from the Russians, and Barbs needed to get back into the game. We decided to bring Big Kev back into the game for the last 15! Kev came through almost immediately, as he headed in Dirk's cross. Celebrations on the sideline were cut short when the offside flag was spotted! No goal! Damn it!
The Barbarians pushed on once again in the last five minutes, really playing some nice football. Another lovely Dirk cross again found Kev, and this time no nonsense from the linesman. Kev headed it in, leaving the final score 1-1 at the end of regulation. As this was a Cup match, we headed into penalties!
The penalties were great spectacle for the supporters. First Big Kev lectured the lads for two minutes on how to take penos, then immediately blasted one high over the bar. He made up for this right away by booing the next Russia taker into missing. The following penalties were pretty much spot on and gave the keepers no chance. With Dave C. missing the seventh peno it was left to the Russians to score and knock Brabarians out of the Cup.
Several of the newcomers got votes for the Man of The Match, but the overall MVP went to Nathan! All in all a good start, and the Barbarians should take heart in the performance from a set of new lads getting to know each other. This Barbarian truly feels that with some discipline and consistency of players, this team should be aiming for a top 4/5 spot to qualify and play in the Asia Champions League.