Great Night for Soccer and the Seals vs Fiji Match at Chabot College in Hayward
by Paul Sheirich
Published April 12, 2007
What a night! I won’t tell you that we weren’t worried. The weather forecast said rain, then no rain, then rain early, then rain possible with high winds, then . . . well, you get the idea. What we got was a great match on a cool night, and a fantastic and enthusiastic crowd!
Oh yea. Fiji beat us 0-1. But hey! It was a good goal.
The game opened with neither team dominating, but each team looking threatening. The Seals attacked with shots from Kelechi Igwe, John Colan, Steven Cordova, and JD Butler, just to name a few. Some just missed wide and others required saves by the Fiji keeper, Simione Tamanisau.
The Seals, in white, attacked more with a building and control game which was effective. Play went wide, across the middle and then into the attack. Fiji, in their striking black uniforms, played a fast game with frequent long passes up over the top to their young star Rajesh Kumar, or to other players who moved into the attack in fluid movements.
Jonathan Kurup was dangerous as he played in several balls that were saved by the Seals keeper, Luis Montanez, or just missed by a Fiji attacker.
The first half finished with it looking like it was anybody’s game to step up and win.
In the second half, Fiji did just that. “I really feel that my adjustments cost us that game,” said Tom Simpson, Seals General Manager and coach. “We played the first half with an outside building game, and I switched us to an inside game and made some substitutions. The guys liked the idea, but we had a little trouble adjusting, and they got a nice goal.”
I think the Fiji fans agreed with Simpson, as the crowd sent up a great cheer for their boys from Fiji, as they took the lead, and ultimately the win, with a fine goal.
The attack came quickly, and directly at the middle just outside the 18 yard box. The ball was slotted through the defense which got slightly turned, and the Fiji attacker, Pita Baleitoga, who came up out of the midfield, picked up the ball behind the defense and slotted it into the back of the net with a nice shot low and hard.
The crowd was great, with attendance nearing 1,500. A Fiji National jersey signed by all the players, along with three Seals season tickets, and a Seals Scarf were raffled off just after half-time. Food was provided by the American Muslim Association, and the ball girls were from the Union City Palmeiras, who are getting ready to play in the Round of 16 in the State Cup this weekend.
The Seals want to thank the Fiji National team, the fans, Mr. Arif Khan (the Fiji Tour coordinator with the Fiji US Sports & Social), the Chabot Community College staff, and the Seals volunteers who all helped make the event a great time!
Officials for the match were:
Referee Kari Seitz, Senior Assistant Michael Donovan, Junior Assistant Vince Cortes, and Fourth Official Greg Hill.