Wednesday 11th April evening marked the debut of the Singapore Vikings in the espzen midweek league. After a couple of cup games against midweek league teams, this night brought the eagerly anticipated league debut.
The opponent on the night, FC Lowlands, a predominantly Dutch/Belgian side, brought 14 highly motivated players to the Cage for the game including Bart, a goalkeeper with intimate familiarity with the Vikings squad. The Vikings, on the other hand, well in line with the eagerness with which the game was awaited, brought a full squad of 18 - and this was only to be the first show of superiority that the Vikings would put on. As the night unfolded, it became more and more apparent that the Vikings' strength lay not only in the numbers.
Starting in what is rapidly becoming Croach & Cronaldo's trademark 4-5-1 formation, it felt like the game was more than just a couple of minutes old when Meli gave the first samples of his sublime touch and great situational awareness. Until then, the game had flowed across both halves almost equally, but all of a sudden, Meli received the ball with his back to the goal about 25 meters out, turned on a dime and hammered an unblockable shot behind Bart. As said, it felt like the game had been on for more, but the first time the Vikings cheered that night was only about 2 minutes into the game.
As the first half unfolded, it became very clear that the Vikings had an edge over the lowlanders. In the space of the first 20 minutes or so, it was only great efforts from Bart in goal defending first a one-on-one with Meli, then disturbing an otherwise completely unmarked header from Meli and last making a great stop on a clear shot from Niels from inside the box that kept the Vikings from running away with the game early. Oh, and there was a goal taken off the board for an offside in there as well. So altogether, nobody could have any complaints if the Vikings had been ahead 5-0 instead of nursing just a one goal lead at the 20 minute mark.
A flurry of subs were made by coach Cronaldo at the 20 minute mark, which stabilized the play, in that the Lowlands players largely stayed off the Viking side of the pitch, but also solidified their defense meaning that the Vikings weren't producing a huge chance every other minute or so as in the first 20. However, the Vikings were not to be denied, and around the half hour mark, the Czech bullet train of Meli and Tomas used their remarkable speed and vision for the game to slickly split the Dutch defence with Tomas ultimately poking the ball into an empty goal with the defenders left behind in a somewhat dazzled state at what just happened.
Taking a well deserved 2-0 lead into half time, three coaches made another handful of substitutions at half time, with one in particular standing out. It must have been no more than a minute into the second half when the midfield released newly subbed vets coach Møller, who chased down a through ball to poke it past Bart for a 3-0 goal that must have taken any remaining glimmer of hope of salvaging a result from the Lowlands opponents. 3-0 and a very strong consideration for Møller to be subbed back out - however, he resisted the temptation and stayed on to produce a strong performance for the rest of the game.
After Møller's goal, the second half unfolded largely like the first, with the midfield in complete control and Stack in charge of the defence. Honorable mentions go out to Magnus, who traded his centre back for a midfield job in the second half and repaid the coaches' trust with a beautiful 5-0 goal after Meli had made it 4-0 with a difficult first time shot from an acute angle inside the box about halfway through the half; as well as new signing Tyge who came in and did a solid job alongside Stack in the central defence for a good chunk of the second half.
The game wrapped up at 6-0 after Meli put another goal in about 10 before the final whistle, although the Vikings kept pressing, and Giraffe had a good header that some would say Bart only pushed back out of goal after the ball had crossed the line.
Altogether 6-0 and a very good outing for the Vikings in the midweek league.