Saigon Raiders Club
Olympique captured celebrating Sunday’s victory

A game that could have gone differently had Raiders taken an early lead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and Raiders start life after quarantine with a loss. There is one thing that all Raiders can agree on when waking up this morning. It was not fun yesterday!

Injuries and players unavailable meant a shift around with the formation and approach, but with the players on the pitch Raiders definitely had enough to do better on the day. Mirko returned in goal, a back three of Jimmy (MOM), Stefan and Sipho. After 5 minutes it was evident Jimmy’s vocal cords were going to be put to good use trying toe reign in his CB/Attacking Wing partners. Stefan loving getting forward with space in front of him. Midfield was made up of Mike Owen, Sven and Guido with Emmanuel of the left and Chris on the Right. Up top Fola and Foxy. On the bench, Clem, Hoggy and new right winger Kenny. McGeever dropping out after covering all that ground last week, Scotty was missed and the lads hope he will be back involved soon.

During the first 15 minutes Raiders looked comfortable in possession, controlling the play. Perhaps this was Olympiques strategy, soak up possession and hit on the counter. Something they tried early on but with no luck. Raiders first chance came after Emmanuel broke down on the left, instead of squaring to Fola he decided to go alone, the keeper managed to save into the side netting. One achievement of the day was a passage of play usually witnessed at the Nou Camp, Raiders strung together a number of passes before Chris weighted a perfect ball through to Guido who was unlucky to have a shot blocked. A wonderful move that deserved more. Guido in fact was having a fine game, making several interceptions and he was unfortunate that a booking severely disrupted his game as with this referee it could go one way or the other and the decision was made to protect Guido and the Raiders as they did not want to be playing with 10 on the day. Minutes later Raiders should have had a clear penalty. Fola tore through and beat the keeper to the ball only to be taken out, on another day it would have been a straight red card. Today. Not even a foul was given. In fairness to the ref, he may have been distracted by Kevin Fox (pictured below):

Frustration was building and perhaps a lack of patience allowed Olympique into the game. A breakaway goal gave the old experienced team the lead and from then on in they were able to manage the game. The fact that Raiders were limited to less than 10 shots in the game shows the performance that their defence manage to put in. Coach Dixon changed the formation and personnel to try and make a difference but Raiders could not break through. 1-0 down at half time but not out of the game.

A devastating start to the second half hindered momentum being gathered. Olympique started and Raiders went on the hunt for the ball back, something that usually results in a quick turnover was not meant to be. The ball ended up down the left with Jimmy alone and isolated on a 1 Vs 2. Olympique squared across goal and Mirko could do nothing to prevent their striker slotting home from 6 yards.

The remainder of the game saw Raiders camped in their opponents half, Olympique trying to slow the ball down and recycle wherever possible. A well-managed game from their experienced team. Raiders were often stuck for ideas and could not break the lines of their opponents, things that they will no doubt put right in their next game. All on the pitch will have entered expecting a victory, but perhaps that was the danger. Coach Dixon will have had his thinking cap on, but sometimes it’s the players that need to step up and show the same energy, passion and commitment. Today was not the day for Raiders and it will be back to the drawing board for sure. Some things to think about for the next game, get back to playing together for one another, get back to enjoying football and being positive unless being negative about being negative because we should be more positive – right Stefan?

Tuesday cannot come soon enough. Lets kick on from there, come on you Raiders!!

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