Another Exclusive Eye-witness match report by ‘Deep Threat’
| The game kicked off at 9pm on the dot; it was a beautiful and balmy Papeete evening, a stark constrast to the semi-final.
There were no surprises with the Sydney FC lineup and ormation, with an unchanged team taking the park in a now customary 4-4-2. An injury cloud hung over Ufuk Talay, who had been experiencing some hamstring problems, right up to a few minutes prior to kickoff; however Littbarski made a measured assessment, and decided to start with him.
AS Magenta opted to play with twin markers and a sweeper, in a formation which resembled a 3-5-2. Not surprisingly, they man-marked Zdrilic, Petrovski, Carney and Middleby extremely tightly.
It didn’t take more than a few minutes after the kickoff to appreciate the vast difference in quality between the 2 teams, in every respect. Any of our pre-game score predictions were starting to appear conservative.
Some wasted chances by Zdrilic and Petrovski were finally forgotten when Bingley hit a sweet volley, following a set play, to open the scoring. Further chances again fell to our strikers in the first half, however the execution was relatively poor. Both strikers looked very tired, and very much out of sorts.
The second half began much better for AS Magenta, as they started to get players forward. They seemed intent on taking the game right up to Sydney FC, but the renewed enthusiasm was short-lived, when Zdrilic got on to the end of a floating, far post cross from the right to find the net with a looping header. Game over.
Changes were made by both teams, with Corica replacing a gallant Talay and Brodie coming on for the very hard-working Middleby. Corica, however, wasn’t able to influence the game as he had in the semi-final. Brodie did very well, and once again was preferred as an early sub over the contracted Sydney FC bench players.
When the referee (a New Zealander) finally blew the whistle, an ecstatic Sydney FC team ripped into party mode. It was very clear that the OFC Champions Cup meant a great deal to the squad and staff alike. A presentation ceremony followed and Sydney FC gladly (and very enthusiastically) lifted the trophy. Mission accomplished – next stop Tokyo.
The man of the match was clearly Terry McFlynn, as agreed by your correspondent and the hard-working individual providing Sydney FC fans back home with their live updates. A truly inspiring performance from the tough midfielder; he cut a commanding presence in both attack and defence. His deftness on the ball was matched by his ferociousness in the tackle.
As for AS Magenta, one could say that they hardly took defeat badly. They were delighted to have made the final and “high fives” were the order of the day before, during and after the game.
A few lasting memories and tidbits:
Magenta, in post game their warm down, sat together and sang “traditional” songs of their homeland. I suppose you had to be there, but your correspondent found it all quite moving. Here’s to one of the island nations (not New Zealand) taking the OFC prize after we move to Asia. The money and recognition would be an enormous boost to the players, the game, and not least to national pride.
As the Sydney FC players boarded the team bus after the game, a group of young Tahitian kids hung around to talk to our boys. Iain Fyfe, in a wonderful gesture, hopped back off the bus and gave away most of his gear (boots, shin pads etc.) to a few of the kids. The little kid lucky enough to get Fyfe’s size 14’s may never grow into them, but it certainly put a massive smile on his face which may last a lifetime. You bloody champ, Fyfie!
Some atrocious decisions by the New Zealand referee (which your correspondent was glad to yell at from the stands) had the bloke sitting a couple of metres away in stitches. It so happens he was the OFC referees’ director; needless to say he agreed with me, and was last seen writing a stinging report on our Kiwi friend. It was not the only incident that reflected some discredit on our Trans-Tasman…erm…friends; the Auckland City players gave a fine demonstration of Men Behaving Badly at the Sheriton hotel (which housed the Sydney FC contingent as well).
The match was televised live in Japan, and reported in the sporting media as far afield as Italy.
It seems Sydney FC have arrived.
by ‘Deep Threat’