MPW's champions do it again!
The second CIFE football tournament was again held at England’s national training facility at St George’s during the Easter break. The highlight of the MPW football calendar, the experience was anticipated by all the players though a little pressure as returning champions was evident.
The tournament was staged over three rounds: a group stage, followed by semi-finals and the final. There were more teams in each group than last year and MPW had to put in some strong performances to qualify from a seven-college group to make the semi-final. We employed a 2-3-1 formation where Nyan and Giacomo were impressive in defence from the start. Rati, deputizing in goal, was also outstanding and kept 5 clean sheets from the six games. Up front, Arthur was his usual dynamic self and never allowed any of our opposing teams to settle for long, whilst Mubs, Serag and Faraan made up the creative midfield.
We began the tournament with four consecutive games without a break. We started well, and won our first two games 1-0 but soon needed the fresh legs of Dylan and Roberto from the bench. The third match was a draw and we lost the fourth in the last minute but were still in a good position when we had our first break to recuperate from the fast-paced start to the day. The final two group games brought out solid performances from all concerned and Faraan was beginning to look like our secret weapon, scoring one winning goal after another.
We come top of our group outright to meet the old enemy Ashbourne in the first game of the knock-out stage, as we did last year. After losing out to them on the final evening of the league in second term, our boys were keen to prove something to themselves and this brought out their best performance of the day so far. We went one up and hitting the post and bar we could have easily made the result more convincing. A special mention should be given to Roberto who came on to make sure that the Ashbourne play-maker didn’t cause us any of the problems which he had in the two league games last term.
The Ashbourne team and staff sportingly wished us luck in the final against a DLD team that we already knew would be formidable opponents, having beaten us in a friendly last year. So it proved to be, and as soon as the final kicked off it was clear the match was going to be a tough one to win with the standards of fitness, ability and discipline of both teams being tested to the full. Roberto again played his part. Mubs and Serag both had their best match of the tournament and Faraan made his case for our best overall player of the day. But the whole team really raised their game and the longer it went on, the more MPW looked the stronger team. It was Arthur who scored the goal that won it with a fine header. It could have been different; Dylan nearly made it two, and only excellent save from Rati before the end preserved the lead.
Bringing the trophy back to London for the second consecutive year was a considerable achievement and a fitting way to end a year of football. All the students representing MPW conducted themselves with calm confidence and respect for each other, their opponents and staff involved.