Saigon Raiders Club

Written by this week’s Turkey moment owner, Kevin Bradfield.

Saturday afternoon wasn’t exactly a “typical Saturday” with the Saigon Raiders…

Rayan was hungover (as usual) but no one was late and we had numbers?! Odd.

As each player got his kit that Mr. Hung had beautifully laid out, our coach announces the formation (3-5-2) and the starting lineup (Kevin, Daniel Vo – Jamie – Luke, Pete – Craig – Daniel German – Mike – Rayan, Tim-Miquel).


After a decent warm-up we set up our formation and kicked off…

We started off strong; our passing was pinpoint and we had the other team running around aimlessly. We kept the game in the midfield waiting for our opportunities to counter which eventually paid off.

Mike – who was majestically gliding across the pitch – saw a Spanish blur darting towards the goal. Mike sees a gap and passes a sublime through-ball to Miquel. Miquel has an elegant touch that sees the ball roll passed the keeper and into the back of the net; 1-0…

The match continues… The opposite team kickoff as lethargically as they started and we won the ball back with minimal effort. As we were faffing around in the midfield 1 of their players manages to get a foot to the ball which awkwardly heads toward Jamie. Jamie, unable to control it, passes it even more awkwardly towards our goalkeeper who has plenty of time to control it, however… As he is contemplating the safest way to control it and get rid of it, he hears desperate cries from his teammates: “Pick it up! Pick it up!! PICK IT UP!!!” The goalkeeper immediately reconsidered his decision to use his feet, but then, he began to doubt their instructions… “You aren’t allowed to pick up a pass back right? I’m sure you have to use your feet? What to do, what to do…” All this happened in just a few seconds and then, ignoring his instincts, he decided to listen to his teammates. He bends down to pick up the ball and as it reaches his fingertips he hears: “NO!!!!!!” echoing throughout the Raiders squad; this is followed by the irritating sound of the ref’s whistle. The goalkeeper looks up even more confused than when his teammates where screaming for him to pick it up. The ref points to the box and his heart drops assuming it is a penalty. He walks to the line mentally preparing for what should have been a definite goal. A glimmer of hope flies through the air when a fellow Raider says: “It’s an indirect free kick, everyone lineup!” This didn’t help the goalkeeper’s mind, as he still believed a goal was inevitable.

The glimmer of hope evolved into full-on hope when 7 Raiders joined him on the line. The wall was formed: 5 on his left and 2 on his right – we had a chance… 2 opponents step up to take the free kick and the keeper’s heart begins to race. With a gentle touch the ball is setup beautifully for a bullet into the top right corner. THIS time, the keeper goes with his instinct and before the ball has left the kick-taker’s boot the keeper’s right hand flicks up and within a split second the bullet collides with his hand and deflects out. Ollie flies in to clear the trouble and the score remained 1-0…

We were well into the first half and after that little mishap things were going quite smoothly. Majestic Mike was again weaving through the opponents and managed to get the ball on his right foot. He looks up, looks down, and with R1 in mind, finesses the ball into the top right corner; 2-0…

The opponents kickoff yet again, only this time with a little more conviction. Their right wing makes a break for it and their midfielder provides what would have been the perfect ball if he hadn’t been offside or touched it with his hand. Everyone freezes assuming the ref saw the obvious infringement but no irritating whistle sound..? The Raiders begin screaming at the ref and luckily, the goalkeeper, remembering to play to the whistle, charges the attacking winger and slide tackles him and gets the ball to safety. “2 sure goals saved in 1 half?” Could this be his clean sheet? No… Moments later the ball is passed back to Danny Vo who takes too long to decide what to do with it. By this time, their striker is on the ball and due to a lack of communication Danny Vo and the keeper collide. The keeper looks back only to see the ball roll into the net and destroy his dreams of a clean sheet; the half ends 2-1.

After a short halftime meeting with the coach, the second half kicks off. Just as in the first half, we were all over our opponents. Our defense was more solid than a brick shithouse, which left the goalkeeper daydreaming for most of the half. Majestic Mike was up to his old tricks again when he accidentally assisted Miquel’s second goal. Mike took a peach of a strike, which bounced off the right post; luckily the Spaniard was there to finish it off; 3-1…

The opponents kicked off yet again, and in a strange turn of events our coach moves Luke into right wing. “Really?” The keeper asks himself. Luke decides to prove himself to the coach and the squad and with the utmost aggression storms down the line, leaving the opponents dazzled in dismay. These runs continued for an unusual amount of time (for Luke anyway) and the tenacity of this newfound winger was unmatchable. Miquel started to dream of his hat-trick. It was right there, on the tip of his boot, just waiting to become a reality… A picture perfect pass lands at his feet and with the wall in front of him; Miquel destroys the ball leaving it in the back of the net. Celebrations all around! Only to look up and see the Spaniard robbed of his dream by a raggedy, misplaced and incorrect offside flag. Protests arose but to no avail, the hat-trick would have to wait… At this point the goalkeeper was daydreaming so he didn’t actually see how the final goal transpired, all he saw was Gerald sprinting in celebration and all he heard was the echo of Gerald’s bellowing voice across the pitch. The keeper joins in the celebrations and the match ends 4-1…

(Oh, Alex got injured in the first half but I don’t know what happened there so again, I’ll leave it to your memories – sorry Alex).



Coach Pat’s verdict


  • Man of the match candidates both played great games, Mike’s goals and Luke’s running
  • Strong performances that were overlooked:
    • Daniel Vo (minus the one blemish), dominated the left side of the pitch, scared the other team
    • Daniel G covered a lot of ground, stood strong in tackles as usual, and put himself in great scoring positions.
  • Miguel got his goal and consistently provided Mike an option up front
  • Overall some great passing and ball movement.


  • Though we cut down quite a bit, still too much talking to the referee from everyone.  Let the guys who speak the same language as the referee handle ALL communication.
  • Need to work on execution in the final third, too many missed chances… Ibranicovich?


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