Glimpses into Training for the Peregrine Cup
By H. Jerome Jr.
As we all know, the Peregrine Cup hosted by Venmere creeps ever closer, and the Kowlooni team is working harder than ever. Just yesterday, they played a grueling 30 hour gauntlet against the top 5 teams in the First League! In fact, it's part of the intensive training new coach Moreau's bringing in, and the players sure are bearing the brunt of it. Let's go over to the six matches and see how our team fared out.
The first match of the Gauntlet against the 5th League ranked Heyuan FC
For fans who were there for the entire session, there sure were some hair-raising moments when we thought things would go wrong. Before the matches, it was announced that the team manager, Mr. Moreau, had scheduled this as part of the Kowlooni team's intensive training program. It has been reported that if his team is at any time two points lower than their opponent's, the match will end and all of the players, including him, will receive appropriate punishment and a pay deduction. To make it even harder, after the five teams, there would be a final match against (former)military-grade AI with more powerful kicks, faster strikes, more calculating AI...it was going to be harsh.
First Game- vs. Heyuan FC
Every game was held in the Auckland South Stadium. As Heyuan defender R. Howard is in the Kowlooni team, it was replaced with a version of the FOOTYAI suited to R. Howard, but boosted to heaven, and has been rated a full 100 on the P-Scale of ranking footballers in New Kowloon Bay. Although powerful, they were simply no match for the national team.
The first goal was made by forward J. Kundalu, the highest scorer in all of the current Kowlooni team, during the 11th minute. After deftly winding his way around the two defenders Semedo and De Jong with two spectacular inside touches, he was able to trick goalkeeper Alba into diving the complete opposite direction, and finishing with a light kick forward.
One close call came by at the 24th minute, when Heyuan forward Li Yue made a magnificent assault deep into the Kowlooni lines, and managing to trick defender R. Howard into missing his pass. This goal was only avoided by Di Stephano rushing in and taking the ball, and pushing it back to the center line.
The second goal was scored at the 65th minute, and was a joint effort between K. Mount and M. Alforo, with the former distracting the opponents with a blitzing push forward, while still effortlessly maneuvering the ball left and right to avoid the gaze of Semedo. After De Jong closed into Mount's position, he did a stunning backward pass to Alforo, and finally, Alforo was able to break through the hasty defense, and score another goal.
After the second goal, the rest of the match was pretty uninteresting, and this blandness was only cut by K. Mount getting yellow-carded at the 88th minute.
The overall result was a 2-0.
Second Game- vs. Ganzhou Palace
This game was as interesting as the last, with the top players facing up against the 'unbreakable defense'. As two of the defenders from Ganzhou were on the Kowlooni side, they were both replaced by FOOTYAI similar to before. This made scoring for our boys, as the Ganzhou team manager said, "impossible".
Yet amazingly, in the 59th minute, Kundalu was able to single-handedly make his way to the penalty arc with a series of tricky moves that nobody was able to see through. Although goalkeeper Zi Ancheng tried to dive and predict the path of the ball, it simply went too far over his head and resulted in a goal.
The rest of the match was a series of ups and downs, with several unsuccessful attempts to break the iron defense of each other. This resulted in a yellow card for Ganzhou defender M. Zachary.
The overall result for this match was 1-0, and overall for all matches, 3-0.
Third Game- vs. Ceres-Negroes
K. Mount celebrating after a goal
After a slight disappointment during the last match, the Kowlooni team was hoping to redeem themselves during this match, and redeem themselves they did.
The first goal was scored quite early, during the 6th minute of the match by Degang Hao, with a free kick after a mistake made by the opposing team. With Hao's rocket leg, the free kick could not be stopped by the wall and curved right into the top right corner of the net, with the goalie only serving to send the ball slightly higher.
At the 16th minute, Ceres was given a penalty after one of the players, specifically defender Harold Baluyot touched the ball with their hand. Kundalu was the one taking the kick, and he swerved the ball ultimately out of the reaches of goalkeeper J. Ronald-Smiths and into the goal.
Yellow cards were given to W. Stevies and Ceres striker M. Bautista 2 minutes after half time because of a small altercation that rose because of a trip by Bautista, with threats being shouted on both sides.
The 78th minute was the scene of yet another goal during the match, with an amazing assist by Zhao Cheng which helped Mount score his second goal in the gauntlet. With Zhao Cheng getting more and more trapped near the penalty corner and the defenders from Ceres closing in, Cheng did an amazing spin to a backwheel pass towards Mount, who immediately did a volley and scored the third goal.
Lastly, the fourth goal was scored by Di Stephano in the closing minutes of the match, at the 83rd minute. It was quite a simple goal, with a forward pass from Kundalu to Stephano and finally a banana kick past the three defenders and straight into the goal left center.
The result for this match was a 4-0, and overall for all matches 7-0.
Fourth Game- vs. Whangarei United
Whangarei United team manager jovial after their goal
Quite the upset for the Kowlooni National Team, as the opponents score their first few goals, although this might have been expected seeing as three Kowlooni Nationals were from Whangarei- Kundalu, Mount and Hao-which were coincidentally the top scorers for both teams.
The first goal was made by the Kowlooni National team, with a fluid movement from Di Stephano to Zhao Cheng who wheeled along the left, flipped the ball into the area, and the centre-forward spun 180 degrees in the air to smack home a scissor-kick.
Unfortunately, the skilled team from Whangarei ,found a way through on the 23rd minute. It was an aimless-looking goal-kick from Peter Anain, but the National team were slow on the second ball due to their previous matches, and in a flash Konrad Laimer Jr. had set clear the AI Kundalu with a delightful swerving through-pass. And here, 'his' talent was in full evidence: the clever run, the turn of pace, the quick feet to take the ball around Sherwoods and finish into an empty net.
Luckily, the Kowlooni team soon responded sharply. William Stevies, a driving presence in midfield, then beat Kafka LeShan with ease before sending a dipping right-foot shot towards goal. Saipan blocked but only as far as Kundalu, who steered an awkward finish into the roof of the net.
But yet another upset as defender A. Chrisen added an unwanted assist to his night’s work when letting a routine pass from Kafka slide under his foot into the path of Laimer. The forward, breaking through on the left, forced Sherwoods into a one-handed save from the angle but the goalkeeper’s punch sailed to the Iteronian international, who sent a well-placed header looping into the far corner.
Finally, to end the match, Stevies set off into National territory while Kundalu, looking up and finding the perfect angle, released a marauding Degang Hao. There was no catching the right wing-forward, whose first touch sent him haring into the penalty area and allowed him to cross for Stevie's simple finish.
This was the first time in the gauntlet the Kowlooni National team had let the opposing team score, and morale had dipped for both fans who had come to cheer and the team themselves. The match score was a 2-2 tie, with an overall score of 9-2.
Fifth Game- vs. Hainan South FC
Coming off a tough upset with Whangarei, the National team was sure hoping to score another victory this round. And score it, they did.
The first goal, sadly, was led by the Hainan South FC. Dong Mans' free-kick was headed clear by the Hainanese San Minnan, and the Venusian international sensed danger instantly, moving in and connecting sweetly to drive a 18 meter shot through the legs of goalie Sherwoods and into the bottom corner.
The Kowlooni National team's first goal was with Kundalu, who accepted a pass from Stevies and, when he crossed to the far post, the goalkeeper was in yards of space. Goalkeepr Lian’s touch back to Jesus was coated in velvet. The finish was ice cool.
The next, and final goal versus Hainan South came only 10 seconds after a halt of Hainan's attack. With a deft first-time flick, Azehon sent Kundalu through. By the time he faced Zhong Liao he had covered around 80 yards and earned the stroke of luck when Ming Tianfung running back to cover, deflected his shot onto the post and into the goal.
The score for this match was 2-1, and an overall score of 11-3.
Sixth Game- vs. FOOTYAI Team
It was a tie.
OOC: No seriously, I gave up on creating anything for the sixth game.
Team manager Moreau stated that the team would have to work on their endurance.