The feeling is almost indescribable. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. It’s a feeling that borders on ecstatic. And triumph, exhaustion, relief all rolled into one. It’s a wonderful feeling. We went in as the GanForHire Allstars, and promised to give us our best shot and have fun. And best we did give, and had lots of fun too in the process!
The Corbis Inter-Agency Futsal Tournament saw 16 teams divided into 4 groups for round-robin preliminary match-ups.
We went up against Lotus Design in our first group match. Although we started tentatively, Kelvin our team captain, quickly opened the scoresheet in the first half. I went on the score two goals. Final score after the full 10-minutes, 3-0.
We met the tougher BBDO in our next match. We kept a clean sheet, much attributed to our solid defence and our agile keeper – Shahnaz. Kelvin scored first, before I added two more, which included a sneaky backheader. Khoo and Ijam made it a well-deserved 5-0 win, one which pretty much secured our berth in the quarterfinals.
We had an even tougher match after. I felt pretty worn by this time, could barely catch my breath, despite the 20 minutes breaks in between. My left ankle was incredibly sore and swollen, and my right also complained. The competition was clearly taking it’s toll on both my ankles and had to give it rub downs with Deep Heat in between games.
Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) were up next. Both teams were tight and we did not have many scoring chances. However, Ijam hit a scorcher from the center to seal the game with the only goal, in the second half. We were through – tired and in pain as we were. We topped our group with an impressive 9 goals, the highest number of goals in group stages.
TBWA, in Group A, was impressive from the start, they even had their very own hot cheerleading team! Talk about team spirit! They topped their group with 2 wins and a draw.
Already exceeding all expectations, we were committed to fight to the finish. Peter Gan, owner of GanForHire was there along with other GFH supporters – my bro Vince, Rachel & Sze Mei to cheer us on. After the lunch break, we met Carrot Films in the quarterfinals. We were, admittedly, lethargic in the match, although we played a slower, passing game. We pretty much controlled the match with more passing than usual, and emerged winners with a 3-0 score. I added another goal to my tally with yet another backheader (I’m getting good at this! Heh!). Khoo and Ijam had a goal each. We were through to the semis! Awesome!
CRM (People N Rich) gave us a tough match, and although they weren’t that individually skilled, they closed us down pretty well. There were several missed chances, and plenty of agro, physical action. It was quite tense, in fact. Shahnaz made some splendid saves to maintain his cleansheet record, but I doubt we were ever really threatened. I broke away from a pass from Ijam to score the solitary goal which was at quite an acute angle – my shot beat the goalie, hit the top right bar and right, before entering the goal! The finals, yipppeee!!!!
TBWA was, no doubt, our toughest opponents. Teamwork was tight and topscorer Sakhti was always threatening and dangerous. Our defence remained rock solid though and I missed several chances. I actually had very little space to move, being tightly marked constantly. Both team parried blows although we had more scoring chances. Had a few on target headers which the goalie saved. It was 0-0 at fulltime, our first draw, and a scoreless one that!
So the title was to be decided by a penalty shootout. How we hated the shootouts, but I guess it was a better than extra time. Reason being most players were exhausted, and a few including team captain Kelvin was suffering cramps. The shootout was nailbiting to say the least. Tension was high. The crowd cheered all of us on. It was an amazing atmosphere. Felt almost like the World Cup Finals. Heh.
Kelvin opened the scores for us with an effortless spotkick. 1-0 to GFH. Shahnaz, our keeper, was in splendid form, saving the first from TBWA. I was up next. Lined up the shot, gave it a solid slap as usual, beat the goalie… but…oh no, hits the top left corner post and bounces out! I can’t believe I missed it! My first ever penalty missed. I sunk in disbelief. TBWA converted the next two, while Khoo and Ijam also added to the scoresheet. Shahnaz was the last kicker, converting would mean victory.
He lines up… and fires a shot. Straight to the keeper! Oh no. Both teams were tied in sudden death. Tension grew higher a couple of notches. Kelvin was up again as kicker. He converted flawlessly! Spirits were high again. All we needed was for superkeeper Shahnaz to make one of his saves. Topscorer Sakhti was up next. Shahnaz was untested. Sakthi completely misses the goal, and falls to the ground in pain, suffering cramps to his thigh. We were through! We were champions! Our supporters who cheered from the sidelines were jubilant! We won, we won! What a dream!
It was certainly a keenly-contested match, and unfortunately only one team could come out as winners. Kudos to TBWA for a splendid performance. It was an experience to savour, and horribly taxing for 33-year old me. My ankles just gave way after. Imagine this – I haven’t played competitive football since secondary school where we lost in the finals of the inter-school tournament. That was 16 years ago!
I’m gonna have to suffer with the pain for the next couple of weeks but I think it was worth it. No more futsal for a while to nurse the ankle injuries. It’s still amazing that we went all the way through from the prelims with plenty of goals and a cleansheet all the way to the finals. To come off with a win is just a dream. We were rewarded with goodies from Corbis, and also RM2.5K Adidas vouchers. Victory is sweet!
A big hand to Corbis (Alison, Daniel, En, and the Corbis team, you know who you are!) for a splendid job. Thanks for organising this! See you next year!
Read Adoi’s take on the event.
More pictures courtesy of Alison Tham of Corbis.