Having rested for a week the excitement of the game had already started to gain great momentum during the week. The match was already hyped by the Bassanga vs. Lenny practice matches during the week as team members fought to impress the coach and earn positions in the game. A high turnout of players and fans indicated that the match would be exciting. Leading by example Coach Nicko and Assistant chairman Lenny were quick to arrive for the game with other team members also promptly arriving in good time. Kudos to the team for the prompt timekeeping.
The coach went for a four-five-system with Donnaruma Babu in goal cementing his place ahead of the missing Opany Buffon. The fullback was held on the right by the ever-consistent Wairi aka Fundi while the marauding Rasco occupied the left side. Calm and composed Gitau maintained a starting position having impressed in recent games. And with Steve missing from the lineup, Lenny got the nod to partner Gitau in center back position having impressed during the week in a series he captained and won. In a call not to change a winning midfield, Abu’s presence was not missed as hard-tackling Bassanga was complimented by the one-touch Georges at the center of the pack. Ahead of them, the in-form Chuba was tasked with producing penetrative passes to the offense. James Nani seeking to cement his position post-suspension ahead of the speculated signing of free-flying Congolese winger Petro started on the right while seventeen-year-old Nigerian winger (Ogochee) boasting five goals in three games looked to bend crosses from the left. Leading the line was Orwa Collins who also captained the side ahead of out-of-form striker Sisco.
The game started with a frenzied pace with Chuba, Georges, and Bassanga dictating the tempo in the middle of the pack. A swift long pass from Chuba to James Nani culminated with a corner. The resulting corner taken by James was met by the ambitious Lenny whose overhead kick stung the keeper and into the top post resulting in the first chance of the game and a second corner. It was clear intent from Parklands that they had come baying for blood. Having possessed the ball in the middle of the pack Georges sent a long pass towards James that was caught by the opposing goalkeeper. The resulting goal kick was however poorly handled resulting in a mistake with the inform Chuba taking a hold of the ball on the left-wing thirty meters from the post with the goalkeeper in no man’s land. One-touch to control the ball, one look at the goal, and one sumptuous out-boot and the ball majestically stomped into the net, the keeper crawling to watch the ball go in. 1-0 to parklands.
TNF replied to the goal with high intensity as the battle in the midfield began to heat up, Chuba with hard-hitting with the passes, the opponent midfield maestro Matuidi with quick stepovers trying to create something. Meanwhile, at the bench, things were getting excited with chants of “Zlatan’s Back, Zlatan’s Back” emanating from the supporters. Indeed Zlatan was back cutting short his honeymoon to come and produce what he is known for best, tactical maestro, impeccable passing, and goal scoring. Hardly had Zlatan joined the bench than Bassanga in a moment of madness committed an atrocious foul on an opponent resulting in a straight red card. He broke history as the first Out of Town player to receive straight matching orders to the showers with his send-off after 21 minutes before breaking a sweat the fastest ever seen. According to Opta stats, he had covered more ground and broken more sweat during the warm-up than in the game. And the music had to go on, Zlatan immediately did what is known for, changed the underperforming Ogochee back to left-back, and release Rasco to fly on the left-wing taking advantage of his high Night runner-like speed. Collinso who had hardly touched the ball dropped to the midfield while Sisco with a lot to prove taking the attacking position. Kama kawa kama Dawa Sisco rewarded his coaches with a fine finish after James Nani provided an unmissable scoring opportunity.
The goal providing great motivation, saw the defense heighten their attention, high flying tackles from Wairi ensured that the right-wing was a no-go zone. Interception after interception saw Gitau enjoy a smooth afternoon. Lenny providing perfect cover cleared at will showcasing his other attributes of being able to provide instinctively long passes to find the attackers. Ogochee showed why he is the most talented and versatile player on the pitch, making inch-perfect tackles, providing defensive composure, and pinpoint passes. However, The good momentum of the defense was also undone when during a corner Lenny forgot to step away from the six and allowing two attackers to be onside, but alas, Donnaruma Babu to the rescue showcasing why Buffon retirement may be imminent. Halftime had the game at One - nil with Parklands leading.
Second half started with the opponents piling pressure on Parklands, as fatigue kicked in several players started to struggle with the pace of the game. Ogochee having been beaten to the ball caught late an opponent resulting in a yellow card. His mishaps continued as he was caught napping by a through ball resulting in the opponent striker asking questions of Donnaruma Babu, questions he could not answer. 2-1 the scores. Another match another clean sheet gone, Babu’s search for a clean sheet in PSC OOT colors continues. Changes had to be made and they were made. Reborn as the most discipline player Delle Mutua replaced hard-tackling Wairi whose rugby crosses had undone his perfect defensive work. Bill replaced James Nani making his debut for PSC OOT, Johhny stepped up for Georges to inject some creativity as the search for goals continued. Ogochee paid for his mistakes with a substitute for Dubiz who was searching to cement a position. The substitutes paid off immediately as Bill squad the ball for the high-flying Chuba who made no mistake from the long-range strike claiming a second goal. Hungry for more, the coach threw in the much-revered striker Zlatan to deal the final blow to the already dying opponent. A case of sending the grave digger when the opponent is on their death bed.
Great pressure and skill from Dubiz won him a penalty, and he dusted himself up, picked the ball, and stepped up to take the penalty. Saved. Dubiz did everything right except provide the power to beat the goalkeeper. The keeper guessed the right direction and parried the penalty for a corner. Still 3-1. However, the momentum was still with Parklands, as the attack continued Parklands winning another penalty. Bill ever threatening in the right since he came on took opponent defender Leftie to task asking him where his loyalty lay resulting in a second penalty in a matter of minutes. Zlatan this time stepped up to show how it is done. The goalkeeper dived in the correct direction but the technique, placement, power had graduated from La Masia academy there was no stopping it. 4-1 No sooner has the ball been restarted than Lenny won the ball, laid to Chuba who launched a penetrative pass to set Sisco one on one with the goalkeeper. No mistake from the top marksman, a cheeky lob on the goalkeeper, and an even better celebration at the corner flag. 5-1. The opponents made a few subs piling pressure on OOT as Johnny continued to struggle in an unfamiliar 6 position giving away the ball in a dangerous position with the defense or Donnaruma Babu coming out to assist. Enough penetration and you get pregnant, Johnny lost the ball in front of his goal, the striker rounded him and Babu could only stop and stare. 5-2 the scores.
Coach Nicko immediately acted returning Georges in the fray for the man of the match Chuba and sending Johnny to his much preferred 8 position, and he immediately repaid the Gaffer’s faith. A trademark out boot pass from Zlatan released Dubiz on the left whose Ozilesque control allowed him to lay it for Johnny who danced away from the first defender, made a friend request from the second defender, and curved the ball to the bottom corner, the goalkeeper a spectator as the rest of the crowd. 6-2. The dog may be dead but the beatings continued. Johnny again took his markers to task, made a fool of them, sent them to Thogoto retirement home crossed for Bill who had the simplest task of tapping to an empty net. Debut Goal for Bill. 7-2. The burial ceremony was on, and the Zlatan was the chief orchestrator of the requiem ceremony. James Nani, with a well-taken corner, was met by the head of Zlatan marking his comeback with a second goal in the top left corner. The goalkeeper didn’t know what had hit him. And it was finished. The referee had seen enough of the brutal massacre called it quits and blew the whistle to end the game. Never since the humiliation of Arsenal in Old Trafford has a team been welcomed, seasoned, and brutally beaten like what occurred in the match. The effect however will be long-lasting, how will Bassanga respond to his red card? is there a place on the bench for the misfiring Collinso? Which is the best position for Ogochee? Did Sisco claim his position? Should Dubiz play on the wing or partner upfront? With Steve back, will Lenny be dropped to the bench or were his performance enough to warrant another starting position? What next for Zlatan? One man who will be sitting calmly waiting for the next fixture is PSC player of the month Chuba, how many goals will he score or assist in the next match?
By Mitch Odero