“I just want to see your natural games today” I announce assertively in front of the dressing room full of players. Roger is translating for me as I speak. “Conditions are awful out there. It’s windy and it’s chucking it down with rain, so just show me what you can do”. I pause to give Roger a chance to catch up, and then smile widely, looking around at them all. “Don’t overthink it” I wink.
I stride out of the tunnel and towards the dugout, using my trusty grey coat to shield me from the sideways rain. There must be a couple of hundred fans here at least. It’s time to make a good impression.
I pass by 2 fans stood together in the front row. “VAMOS HERÓIS!” They cry, upon seeing me.* I turn to them and smile. I like it. I have noticed in my first couple of weeks that the club doesn’t really have a nickname. We’re just referred to as Angrense. But yes, we are The Heroes of Hero Creek. “VAMOS HERÓIS!” I echo back to them, raising a triumphant fist into the air. The crowd in earshot cheer and begin to sing the phrase in unison.
We start quickly: in the 4th minute Carapinheirense’s midfield seems to disintegrate in the rain and Kevin takes advantage, making an easy 15 yard pass forwards towards Magina. The striker jinks around a defender and hits a shot towards the near top corner, but their keeper Igor is on his toes and catches the ball with relative ease.
In the 17th minute Vitor Miranda hoofs a ball forward on the volley and Magina brings it down on his chest. He shimmies once again around a defender on the right wing and drills a low cross in to Medeiros 10 yards out. Medeiros takes a touch and then hammers it past the keeper into the far top corner. I leap to my feet, beaming from ear to ear. This is more like it! This is proper football! A fantastic start and it looks like there’s more to come.
I’ve not even sat back down before the ball comes forward again. Seidi passes to Kevin, who’s 20 yards out. He plays a fantastic ball through the left hand channel and Medeiros has got the beating of his marker Soro for pace, so much so that Soro trips him and gives away a blatant penalty.
Now I don’t want to brag, but back in Vellinge we had an excellent penalty scoring record, so naturally I’m practically celebrating our 2-0 lead already. Aurelio steps up, picks his spot, puts it straight down the middle, and Igor parries it away. 1-0 it stays.
With 10 minutes to go before half time, the game has died down significantly. I tell the team to control the game, to push slightly further forward and to get in Carapinheirense’s faces. I don’t want to full on attack this weaker side and leave us open to the counter attack, but control should make us start theatening them again at least.
4 minutes from the break we win a free kick 20 yards out in a very slightly left-of-central position. Valadão the skipper steps up. He curls the ball over the wall and as far into the top corner as it is possible to go. 2-0! It’s a superb effort and that’s surely enough to kill the game.
Half time comes around and I gather the team in the dressing room before showering praise onto them. But for the grace of Igor it would be 3-0! They were electric at times this half and if we play like that every match we are in for an extremely comfortable few months.
Just over 10 minutes after half time Carapinheirense push forward on the counter attack. A Namora through ball catches Oliveira flat footed and Bacurim squeezes into the area behind him. He shoots low to the right but Azevedo gets down brilliantly to push it behind. The corner comes to nothing.
Just 2 minutes later Cristiano Magina, who I am starting to think the absolute world of, picks the ball up 40 yards out, dribbles expertly past 2 defenders and lets fly from 25 yards. His shot goes wide to the right, but he gets a standing ovation from me nevertheless. “GOOD EFFORT MY SON” I bellow into the wind and rain. “MORE OF THAT”.
With half an hour to go I decide to make a defensive change: Benjamim, our central midfielder, is replaced by Rúben Miranda, who drops back alongside Seidi in a defensive midfield partnership.
15 minutes later Magina goes down and stays down after a heavy challenge. My heart sinks. Please no. Please, please no. He looks like he might be able to play on but I bring him off as a precaution. Arruda comes on for his debut, but the last 15 minutes goes by in the blink of an eye.
We were dominant today. Utterly, utterly dominant. But I’m not happy. I enjoyed Magina’s jinking run and long shot combo but we need to be making more quality chances like we did for the first goal. This could have been more comfortable and I’ll be tinkering to try to make amends in future, but for now we’ve picked up an opening day win, and I suppose that’ll do.
*”Vamos Heróis” translates to “Come on Heroes”, which was suggested by u/TooMuchChaos2 and u/Haevollgutoder on reddit, cheers guys! VAMOS HERÓIS!
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