Schaan Redux – Season 1 – Preseason

Media Dream eleven confirmed what I already knew we had a good team. Seven of the Eleven players in the media dream eleven are players of our team. Triesenberg who are expected by the media to become second in the league had three players and Nicola Barmaz was the sole player in the media dream eleven playing for FC Flums who are expected to be fourth in the competition

I already had a whole line up for the preseason planned. We started with games against our under 17 team and our second team to get our physical condition up to par and to get some Match Sharpness up. After that our preseason really started with games against fellow Liechtensteiner clubs the second team of Eschen/Mauren en against Balzers. The next few games we would really need to step up our game with games against clubs who played much higher than us both FC Lausanne-Sport and Fussballclub Schaffhausen play in the Brack.ch Challenge League the second tier in Switzerland. The games after that we play against the second team of FC Ingolstadt 04 and FC Ingolstadt 04 II and both teams play in the Bayernliga Süd the fifth tier in Germany. The final game planned was against the Italian club Virtus Vecomp Verona who play in the Lega Pro Girone B the third tier in Italy.

Our first game was against our under 17 teams, as expected we won pretty easily. The under 17 team did score two goals against us which should be worrisome but we did not have our incoming transfers and most players who played now would be on the bench or even in the reserves by the end of the preseason

The second match was against our reserve team which we won 3-1. As with the previous game I didn’t put too much weight on this game seeing the team would still significantly change before the end of the preseason. If was a good exhibition match for some of the players currently here to show me what they have and maybe fight to keep a spot but seeing the level of the players and the players that were coming in it looked very bleak for them.

Our first real game was against the second team of Eschen/Mauren who play in the division below us in the 4. Liga Ostschweiz. We played well and won 4-0 as expected against a team who play in a division below us and us weaker than us. New transfer Lucas Eberle made his mark on this game by scoring twice and Marco Oehri made a bad impression by missing a penalty that could have made it 5-0.

The games against Balzers was our first real challenging game in the preseason, the fellow Liechtensteiner club plays in the 1e Ligue which is the fourth tier and three levels above were we are playing. Although all that we played very well by losing only 0-1 against a team much stronger. We had 9 shots against their 6 shots, we had 5 shots on target against their 3 shots on target and we had 59% possession while they had 41%. Them scoring while we were betting according to the statistics just shows how they are the better team and are able to finishing the chances they had.

Us losing to Lausanne Sport was to be expected seeing they play 5 divisions above us. It took them a long time before they did actually score. The first goal was by Aldin Turkes in the 76th minute and the 2-0 was scored by Dan Ndoye in the 80th minute. They were the better time but seeing we had withheld them from scoring for 75 we had hoped that we could draw with them which in the end did not happen they are a better team than we are.

This game, like the previous game, was against the much bigger team and we expected to lose but by some miracle that did not happen, we won the game by 3-1. Moritz Eidenbenz scored the 1-0, in the 38th minute Joshua Eggenberger scored a rebound after he missed the penalty and shortly after the start of the second half in the 49th minute Marco Oehri scored the 3-0. It took Schaffhausen until the 89th minute to score by the Italian Danilo Del Toro.

In our game again FC Ingolstadt 04 II we gave away a 2-0 lead to make in 2-2 in the end. Valentin Flatz scored the 1-0 in the 43rd minute and Joshua Eggenberger who made a good impression in the preseason scored the 2-0 in the 46th minute. At the end of the game like the previous game, we started to get tired and the game slipped out of our hands. Ingolstadt’s Jochen Leuthard scored in the 84th and the equalizer in the 88th minute. Setting that aside drawing against them was still a good result.

The first half in our game against the second team of 1860 Munchen was pretty tame only in the second half both teams really started playing which resulted in goals. They opened the score in the 53rd minute, We equalized in the 74th minute with a goal by who else but Marco Oehri and even got ahead with Eris Burak scoring in the 81st minute. As been the case in many games this preseason the opposition made the equalizer late in the game, this time in the 91st minute. We had nothing to be ashamed of though with this result. I called it a win for us.

The final game of our preseason was also the hardest game. After only 2 minutes we are behind 1-0 by a goal by Andrea Magrassi. Getting a goal against you that quick against a team that is much bigger and stronger you expect it to be a goal-fest for the other team but luckily that did not happen. Andrea Magrassi also scored the 2-0, in the extra time of the first half and that is how it stayed. We did have more shots and almost as many shots on goal as Virtus Verona.

All in all, we had a good preseason, we played against some much stronger teams than us but we never really lost by a big goal difference. We had some draws which were surprising, we lost a couple by only one or two goals difference while the expectation was that they would beat us easily. We made a good impression and I am looking forward to the start of the season.

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Schaan Redux – Season 1 – Club Vision & Transfers

When I signed the contract we also discussed the vision for the club this year and upcoming years. For this season the club wanted a top half in the competition in the Liga Ostschweiz – Gruppe 1 and reaching the quarter-final of the Liechtensteiner Cup which seemed all very realistic goals. Besides those goals, they would also like me to win the Coppa Lauro Amado and reach the second round of the Ostschweizer Cup. I wasn’t sure if winning the Coppa Lauro Amado was possible but getting to the second round of the Ostschweizer Cup should be easily attainable. Getting to the quarter-final of the Liechtensteiner Cup also depended on the clubs we would get in the draw. If we drew Vaduz in one of the earlier rounds it would be over for sure.

The board wanted a mid-table position but the media expected us to be second and maybe even fight for the title. In our division 3. Liga Ostschweiz only the champion will be promoted that was something I was aiming for too. Schaan had known better days in days long gone, in 2012/2013 when they played in the 2e Ligue Interrégionale which was two divisions above the division we are playing now or even longer ago in 1993/1994 when Schaan won the FC Balzers with 3-0 after beating Vaduz narrowly after penalties. This was also the last year we won the Liechtensteiner cup. The next year we and the next year we played in the Qualifying Round for the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup again Bulgarian cup winner Pirin Blagoevgrad. After two games we lost 4–0 on Aggregate after losing 1-0 at home and losing 3-0 away in Bulgaria. The plan was for me personally to bring Schaan back to those times and maybe even better.

I was happy to see we had some income we had a new sponsor, a local company that paid us 9.5k over 2 years and we also got 4.25k from Vaduz who is our senior affiliate. As I was not sure what the income and cost were going to be and it was always good to have a cushion however small it might be.

I had watched many games and even attended some of the training over the last year and was familiar with the team and the players. It was clear that three players of the team were the players that I should build the team around namely right back Mathias Sele, center back Armando Hilti, and left-winger Lucas Eberle. Although we had some good players, especially for our level we were lacking in some areas, most prominently in our midfield. We could really do with two central midfielders or one central midfielder and a left-winger depending on where we played Lucas Eberle. I also wanted to replace our first keeper, he was thirty-five already and also served as director of football. He was also one of two players who also held a staff job and who was getting paid. Our keeper Fabian Rupf got 100 euros a week and player/reserve manager Kieran Walser who gets paid 6 euros a week while I as head coach did not get paid. It was also a waste of money and a lot of money for an amateur club with limited money and income. Besides my first team keeper, I wanted a good reserve keeper so I added two keepers to the to-buy list. The reserve bench was weak if there were a number of injuries it might cause problems. We could do with a central defender, a left-back, a central midfielder, both a left and a right-winger and a striker. If we could fill these position we would be in a good shape and surely be able to fight for the title this season. I have my work cut out on the transfer market.

With the list of positions that I needed filling, I got to work and look for players that could fill these positions and be good enough for our level. I was always tempted to look up not down, try and get players who might not be not so obvious to be willing to join the club instead of picking the low-hanging fruit. The first players I signed were obviously midfielders, a position we are most desperate to fill. Moritz Eidenbenz, a 21-year-old Liechtenstein under 21 player and Eris Burak a 30-year-old two time Liechtenstein international both came on a free transfer. For between the goalposts, I signed Raffael Loosli 18-year-old from FC Triesenberg who had no experience but he was about as good as Fabian Rupf and still has potential.

With these positions filled, things were looking on the up and up and I could look how to further strengthen our selections. The first to catch my eyes was Leon Ryser a Swiss left-back who played or FC Teufen who we signed as our first team left-back. One of my scouts made me aware of Luka Tomas an Austrian defender who played for FC Rüthi last season but was released. I contacted Vaduz with whom we had an affiliate and if they had players they could send our way. It was slim pickings and in the end, we only loaned Marco Marxer a versatile defender who could play on all positions in defense. I had my scouts go to the training of other teams in the region to scout of players that we could sign. The scout who we send to FC Ruggell came back with three players for us to sign midfielder Menderes Caglar, defender Stefan Maag who also could play in all the positions in defense and right-wing Colin Haas. From FC Triesenberg we poached Jonas Sprenger who could play we got as a central defender but also could play in midfield and as a striker and keeper Nikola Pupovac who will be our backup keeper and can fight for his spot. We still where looking for attackers and the first spot was filled by Cenk-Onur Cokicli who was released by FC Rebstein. On the wing, we signed for the right Julian Frick of FC Balzers and Roger Stadler from FC Wittenbach on the right. Central midfielder Adnan Salihovic who was released by FC Rorschach-Goldach 17 signed.

Finally, our most remarkable signing, we were still looking for a striker and were contacted by George Weah Jr the Liberian striker who also had French and US citizenship and made a few appearances in the US under 21 team who contacted us. He was the son of George Weah the former AC Milan player and ballon d’or winner who currently was president of Libera. George Weah Jr had played most of his career in the Swiss lower leagues was wanted to come to play for us. Who was I to say no to the son of a former world-class player.

At the and of the transfer season this was what our selection looked like. Our first eleven where much stronger compared to when I signed on as manager and also in our reserves for most positions we have good backups for almost every position which will help if we get injuries during the season which surely will happen. In the season preview, we are not expected to win the league and in the media dream eleven seven out of the eleven players are ours.

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Schaan Redux – Prelude

From a young age my dream was becoming a professional football, a dream I shared with many boys my age but as I grew older I found out I was not actually any good as a footballer. In the youth teams, I played as a keeper because I was no good on the field and on the ball. In my teenage years, this became very apparent and I gave up on the dream of becoming a footballer. I still however kept footballing at a low level in one of the reserve teams more for fun than anything else but I started to focus on coaching instead of becoming a footballer. I was born and raised in Liechtenstein and when I was a teenager we moved to England because of my father’s work. At the age of twelve, I did The FA Junior Football Leader Award course and FA Age Appropriate Coaching course and worked my way up to FA Level 1 in Coaching Football when I was only 16.

When I went off to university I already had my FA Level 2 in Coaching Football and experience as a youth coach for the youngest age group. I went to the University Campus of Football Business and got my Football Coaching & Talent Development bachelor’s degree. Even with a degree, it was not easy finding a job a coach that would actually pay the bills. Eventually, I moved back to Liechtenstein when I got a job at the Fussball Akademie Vorarlberg in Austria which was less than an hour’s drive from where I lived. After a couple of years of coaching the youth teams at Vorarlberg, I got the opportunity to become the head coach of the third team of Verein für Bewegung Hohenems which was just over the border. They played in the Landesklasse Oberland (Vbg) the tenth tier in the Austrian football pyramid. Their first team now played in the Regionalliga West the fourth tier after they had two promotions in three years.

I hoped to work my way up in the club and maybe become head coach of the club or maybe I would get a chance elsewhere. Being the coach of a third team wasn’t really what I had hoped for, it did not feel like being a head coach it lacked independence and responsibility as I was dependent on the manager of the first team and the second team who regularly poached players for their teams. It became obvious that in the short term there was no real chance of working myself up in the club anytime soon so I had to look elsewhere. As often as possible as my team did not have to play I would go to Sportplatz Rheinwiese to watch Schaan FC the local team. Lucas Eberle who had played for the club for many years had taken over as manager as player/manager but it was not a good season and it was already announced that he would step down as manager and become player/coach next season.

I knew this was my chance, I started a conversation with the chairman Daniel Bosson who was up for election next year and casually dropped in the conversation that I was a manager myself and that I was looking for the opportunity to become head coach of a club. I basically told him I had a bachelor’s in Football Coaching & Talent Development, my experience, and my vision and how I enjoy developing players and how I would run the team. The chairman was impressed by my knowledge and vision and promised he would add me to the shortlist for the position of head coach. A couple of days later I got a call for the interview for the job which went very well I thought but you never really know for sure. A week later I got the call that I got the job.

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Schaan Redux – The Club


Full Name: Schaan FC
Short name: Schaan
Nickname: Die Schaaner

Founded: 1 July 1949
Ground: Sportsplatz Rheinwiese Schaan, Liechtenstein
Capacity: 1500

Owner: Matthew Torres
Chairman:  Daniel Bosson
Manager: None

League: 3. Liga Ostschweiz – Gruppe 1
Colors: Green

Honours:
Liechtenstein Cup Winner: (3) 1955, 1963, 1994
Liechtenstein Cup Runer Up: (11): 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1993, 2016

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Schaan Redux – Introduction

I recently started playing Football Manager 2020 after having played Football Manager 2017 for over two and a half years. After some test games with Manchester City in the Premier League and Annbank United in the Scottish Junior FA West Region League Two my eye fell in a database I found in the SI forums. One of my games was Football Manager 2017 was a game with Schaan, a Liechtenstein club who because Liechtenstein does not have their own competition play in the competition in Switzerland in the Swiss Liga Ostschweiz which is the seventh tier. Besides Liechtenstein not having their own competition the unique thing is that all clubs from Liechtenstein in the Liechtensteiner cup and the winner will be the sole representative for Liechtenstein in Europe and will start in the 1st Qualification round for the UEFA Europa League. Vaduz who plays in the Brack.ch Challenge League is by far the strongest club and always the Liechtensteiner cup. In the 4th season of my game with Schaan I noticed that Vaduz qualified for Europe even though they lose the final of the Liechtensteiner cup meaning I could not qualify for Europe and so I quite that savegame.

Now in Football Manager 2020 as I said I saw the Swiss lower league database that includes the Liechtensteiner cup and with the reassurance, that same problem would not occur. This is my second attempt hence the name Schaan redux. The idea is to bring Schaan up the Swiss leagues and eventually up to the Raiffeisen Super League the top tier in Switzerland. Another goal is to become better than and beat Vaduz and win the Liechtensteiner cup and qualify for Europe. Of course, I have further aspirations but that is all in the far future. Another thing I would like to do is become the manager or the national team of Liechtenstein and see what I can do there. This also is a long term goal, to start with I might eventually have to settle with starting as the manager of the Liechtenstein under 19 team.

To keep it somewhat realistic I have set some limitations on myself. Schaan as all clubs this level are amateur clubs meaning they do not pay their players and staff. Players will realistically speaking not move halfway across the country let alone moving halfway across the world. As such I am limiting the players I am able to sign to 1. players who have Liechtenstein citizenship 2. Play or played for Liechtensteiner clubs or 3. Played for clubs closeby (the same division and group as us). As we go up the league the rules will be less strict seeing we’ll be paying them (some) money and I’ll allow us to cast a wider net for players to sign.

I hope I will get past the twenty-four seasons I played in my Football Manager 17 game with Gibraltar and make this a long term save.

Ronald

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HVV Return to former glory – Episode 11 – Season 2 Transfers

Last season we were lucky enough to be able to attract players who used to play in the Eredivisie, the top division in the Netherlands in the past. The problem was though, they many were all older players who were over 30 and close to retiring. What happened at the end of the previous season and the start of this season was that we had six players retiring. We knew beforehand that they were a short term solution and I had the great foresight to already buy a replacement for them before the end of the previous season. The impact was thus not severe luckily. Midfielder Nourdin Boukhari, left-back Tim de Cler, central defenders Milan Berck Beelenkamp and Saleh Dahmani, Goalkeeper Cees Paauwe and striker Mustapha Riga all retired. All of them stayed in football as staff members but we only signed Cees Paauwe who will be our under 19 goalkeeping coach.

With great success as we had last season also comes the problem of players who played superb last season attract the attention of bigger and better clubs. With us going from amateur to semi-professional we offered a new contract to all first-team players and some of our talents. Sadly before we were able to get our top scorer Adham El Idrissi to sign a semi-professional contract Beerschot who play in the second tier in Belgium the Proximus League offered him a contract so he left on a free sadly. We did get to give contracts to all other players before we had offers for further players which meant they had to pay us good money. The second one out the door was Dario Tanda the midfielder who came during the winter transfer period last season and only played seven games. Beerschot clearly had been window shopping at our club and we sold him for 125k. The third one who left was Henk Dijkhuizen who had been our right back most of the last season but we got a bid from Eredivisie club Excelsior who bid 200k and gave him a fulltime contract for 2300 a week so he left. The last player who we sold was a player for the future, he played in the reserves he only played one game last season and a couple before he left this season. Haris Alispahic we found at a 10th tier club and signed him for free. When Premier League club Southampton came and offered 100k we could not say no. After he signed he was right away loaned out to QPR in the Championship.

With all the people going we had to keep out the selection at a certain level so we also bought players to compensate for the players leaving. All in all, we did well and in general improved the quality of our first team. Josemar Makiavala had played for TEC last season but was released even though he scored twentyone goals in thirty-four games. I gladly picked him up and give him a new home. Another striker that was bought was Jelle van Kruijssen who played in the third tier in Belgium for Berchem Sport but was released even though he scored twenty goals in thirty-nine games. Both van Kruijssen and Makiavala could fight for Adham El Idrissi’s old spot next to Samet Bulut. We went shopping for midfielders in Leeuwarden both Jerge Hoefdraad and Milan Vissie joined our club. 31-year-old Hoefdraad before this played for Almere City where I been a youth coach and Milan Vissie a former Ajax youth player who I knew from my time as a youth coach there. The final signing was a big one, the thirtytwo-year-old Jeffrey Hoogervorst who had played for Real Madrid B and Barcelona B one but most of his career played for lower league Spanish club joined the club. I knew this was a short term transfer but it was still a big name and was good for the clubs name recognition and shirt sales.

Besides players, we also had some staff mutations. As mentioned before Cees Paauwe who was a keeper for us last season signed a contract with us as under 19 goalkeeping coach after he hung up his boots and we also signed Edward Linskins who in the ’80s and 90’s played for PSV as a coach. We had two under 19 physio’s leaving, apparently, our under 19 physio’s where at the level that Eredivisie clubs wanted to poach them. Who knew.

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HVV Return to former glory – Episode 10 – South Asian Football Federation U-19 Championship

Flying from Amsterdam to Bangladesh was a lot better than flying to the Solomon Island. We only had 1 layover stop in Turkey and it was only a thirteen-hour flight compared to the twenty-five-hour flight it used to be when I was the manager of Solomon Island under 20. Bangladesh under 19 had already played two friendly which were played shortly after I signed but because I had to be at the club and the football association allowed me to let the assistant manager do it. Although my assistant at Bangladesh under 19 wasn’t very good we did win. I picked the team and the tactics and the players had to actually do it so there wasn’t much my assistant was able to fuck it up. We won 2-0 against Guam under 19 and also 2-0 against Turkenmistan under 19 who we would play in our group in the Asian Under 19 Championship Qualifying. We won both games, we beat Guam with 2-0 and we beat Turkenmistan also 2-0 which was a good sign for things to come

All our games were played in the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, the national stadium of Bangladesh which was where we always played. We played well in this tournament the previous couple of times it was held, we reached the semi-final multiple times so the hopes were high that before a home crowd we would be able to win the South Asian Football Federation U-19 Championship this season. I was hopeful although my team wasn’t much better compared to the Solomon Island under 20 team which was not really very good. Thankfully our opponents also were about the same of the same caliber we should stand a chance for sure if we played well and if we had a little bit of luck on our side.

The first game we had to play was against Nepal under 19s. The whole game we were the dominant team, we had more shots and more possessions in the game but were not able to get the ball in the goal. This was until the 84th minute when Mohammed Khan the player of Mohammedan Sporting Club Dhaka shot the ball in the goal we got us to the deserved 1-0. This was also the score when the referee blew his whistle. I was relieved we won the game, although we deserved the win it was not as easy as I expected it to be. We apparently had a problem with scoring for no apparent reason.

In the second game we had to play India, probably the strongest team in our group but not by much. I hoped we’d be able to cause an upset in this game and win it but it became very apparent very soon when the game started that this was probably not going to be the case. The game did attract a big crow, 2638 people came and see the game compared to the 909 in our previous game mainly because of the rivalry between these two countries. The roles were reversed compared to the previous game, they were dominant from the start. It did take them until the 29th minute to score when their striker Abedin Rakib put the ball in the nets. At halftime we where only 1-0 behind and we could count ourselves lucky with this. The second half we were not that lucky Bedeshwor Singh scored twice in two minutes, the 59th minute and the 60th minute. In the 72nd minute, India fouled one of our players and we were awarded a penalty which our defender Mohammed Alam scored. We lost the game 3-1.

The final match in the group, the match that decided if we would go to the semi-final was against Sri Lanka u19s who were considered to be the weakest team in the group. We should be able to win this but if Nepal causes an upset and beat India we might not go through the next round based on goal difference. The match ended up being a crazy match, after 7 minutes we scored the 1-0 by a goal by Mohammed Rahman and eleven minutes later Sri Lanka makes the equalizer. In the next fifteen minutes, we made five goals in the 29th, 35th, 36th, 39th and 34th minute. We were 6-1 ahead and you would think that would basically the end of the match but it was not. Shortly after the start of the second half we even made the 7-1 but after that we got complacent and Sri Lanka fought back hard and came back to 7-4 in the 83rd minute but sadly for them it was too little too late and we won this crazy match 4-7.


India under 19 did it’s job and Nepal under 19 which meant that we were in the next round, the semi-final of the tournament. We had to play Pakistan Under 19s who won their group while India Under 19s had to play Maldives Under 19s who came second in group B which also contained Afghanistan under 19s and Bhutan under 19s.

So we played Pakistan in the Semi-final, so far we kinda passed through the eye of a needle, we were not very convincing as we showed the previous game where we went from 6-1 to 7-4 in the second half. We really had to do better if we wanted to reach the final and wanted a chance to win the tournament. In the first half of the game, both teams were pretty much equals, both sides got chances but neither side got the ball in the goal of the other side. A few minutes in the second half we finally made the goal, Mohammed Rahman scored the 1-0. We started to play better and became more dominant in the game. Near the end of the game, this really because obvious when we scored two goals in three minutes. Mohammed Khan scored the 0-2 for us and three minutes later Mohammed Rahman scored his second and our third in the game and we were 0-3 ahead. This was the final score and we were through to the final.

Before the final, the match for this third place was played between India and Pakistan which is somewhat awkward seeing the Bilateral relations between those two countries which are both have nuclear capability and who are often at odds with each other. India did against Pakistan by 1-0 and where 3rd in the South Asian Football Federation U-19 Championship.

In the final, we had to play the Maldives who surprisingly beat India in the semi-final thanks to two goals scored by Ahmed Rilwan in the first twenty-two minutes of that game. I stuck for the same eleven this game, they had gotten me so far and they deserved to play the final and hopefully win us the cup. We started very well, Mohammed Rahman scored twice in the first ten minutes and at halftime, we were 2-0 ahead. Many teams would thing smooth sailing ahead but I had seen this happening before and sadly the same thing that happened in our game against Sri Lanka happened before we squandered a lead. We went from 2-0 to 3-1 in the first five minutes and later to 4-2 with goals scored by Ahmed Rilwan for the Maldives and Shiblu Khan scoring 4-2 to keep the goal difference to two. The last thirteen minutes were disastrous, in the 77th minute Ahmed Rilwan scored the 4-3 and in 81th minute Fathullah Nihan scored the 4-4. Again in the last part of the game, we let our guard down and fell victim to our own complacency. In extra time they were the stronger team but lucky for us our goalkeeper did a good job so the game went to penalties.

The penalty where excruciating, our right winger Mohammed Rahman went up first and right away missed, By the third penalty it was 2-2, the Maldives had not missed but with the third penalty we were lucky, Mohammed Khan shot against the keeper and it deflected into the goal. The Maldives missed their 4th penalty when Haleel shot the ball through the middle right at the keeper. The fifth penalty S. Khan shot in the right corner and the keeper had it hands to win but it was still just over the line. The sixth round of penalty Shiyam went up and like before shoots right through the middle and the keeper stops the ball. We win the South Asian Football Federation U-19 Championship!!!!!

The team, me but more important the football association is happy with the results and us winning the South Asian Football Federation U-19 Championship so I can stay. I have three weeks off from international football before we two friendlies as preparation for the Asian Under 19 Championship Qualifying. We’re in a group with Australia, Turkmenistan, Qatar and (again) India. I do not see how we could qualify for the main tournament and if we do we’d be an easy target for the other teams in our group. For the meanwhile I can go back putting my time and effort back into my main job, being manager of HVV.

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HVV Return to former glory – Episode 9 – Season 2 Preseason and Bangladesh u19

After my return from the Solomon Island with a stopover in Bangladesh where I signed the contract to be their under 19 managers. The chairman of the Bangladesh Football Federation also gave me a schedule for the upcoming matches and tournaments that we had to play. Four days after I signed we had friendly planned against East Timor Under 19s and four days after that against Bhutan Under 19s. Two months later in September, we played three friendlies against Cambodia Under 19s, Guam Under 19s and Afghanistan Under 19s as preparation for the South Asian Football Federation U-19 Championship which lasts about three weeks. Two weeks after this we two friendlies planned against Sri Lanka Under 19s and Brunei Under 19s as preparation for the Asian Under 19 Championship Qualifying and two weeks after this we played two friendlies against Qatar Under 19s and India Under 19s.

Being promoted also meant change for the club, for the staff and the players. The club became semi-professional as were most other clubs in the 1e Klasse, the division we were going to play the upcoming season so that was no surprise. This also meant that we were able to give them semi-pro contracts. The previous season we made 130k profit after taxes and having our 1st team on semi-professional contracts would cost us about 300k a year. It was kinda a gamble because we were not sure how much our income would increase but we decided to give our 1st team and our staff a semi-professional contract. After signing all first-team players and a couple of talents in our reserves who would join the first team this year and staff we had a wage budget of 6.823 euros a week or almost 355k euros in wages a year.

The club also offered me a new contract, the first offer they made was for 250 euros a week and a 1.8k bonus if I won the KNVB beker for amateurs. The initial offer was less than I expected, I had expected at least a wage offer to start with 300 euros a week. I made a counteroffer for 550 a week, I did not expect them to go that far. The second offer was for 325 euros a week and no bonuses, better but not good enough. I did not yield and eventually, they caved in and gave me a contract for 550 euros a week which is 28.600 euros a year before taxes.

The first to games in our preseason was against our under 19 team and against our reserves to build up some condition and match sharpness. As to be expected we won both games although the game against our reserves could have gone better. We won against our under 19 with 10-3 and against our reserves 4-3. The first real game in our preseason was against Dover who play in the Vanarama National League and we won the game easily with 4-1. The next game we played against the reserves of Lille Olympique Sporting Club who play in the French CFA – B the 4th tier in France. Although they were the stronger team we did play well and we were able to keep them on a 2-2 draw.

HVV has an affiliate with Ado Den Haag, an Eredivisie club from the same town as us and the club we eventually want to beat. Because of us only being a 7th tier club we had to do our friendly that are obligated to do against their second team who play in the Derde Divisie, the 4th tier in Dutch football. We did impress and we won the game surprisingly with 3-1. The next games are money grabs, playing against bigger teams for the money we lost a couple of the games. Liege we smashed but mainly because they played reserves, Seraing beat us by 0-3 and against the second team of the club I used to work for Ajax we narrowly lost 0-1. Many of my players are former Ajax players who were released on free so they were very motivated. The game against Scheveningen is basically also a derby, they also play in the Derde Divisie and we won 2-0. We had a draw against Katwijk who play a division above Scheveningen in the Tweede Divisie Our final game in the preseason was against Alemannia Aachen who plays in the fourth tier in Germany in the Oberliga and they beat us 2-4.

Shortly after this, I had to leave again, I had to fly to Bangladesh three friendlies against Cambodia under 19, Guam under 19 and Afganistan under 19. The South Asian Football Federation U-19 Championship is held in Bangladesh so we do not have to do any traveling which is an advantage as is us playing at home before our own crowd. Let’s hope we can give them something to cheer about.

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HVV Return to former glory – Episode 8 – U20 World Cup

After we lost the semi-final of the KNVB-beker voor amateurs against FC Rijnvogels I had to take a plane to the Solomon Island for the preparations for the FIFA U-20 World Cup we were going to play. This did mean that I had to miss the last two games of the season, our games against Laakkwartier and Valken ’68 but seeing we were already champions this was not a big deal or anything. Solomon Island under 20 had 2 games arranged before the u20 world cup, we’d play Vanuatu Under 20s on the 9th of may and Cuba Under 20s six days later on the 15th. The tournament itself for us would start on the 21st with game against Zambia Under 20s, three days later on the 24th we’ll have to play Argentina Under 20s and our third and final game was against Uzbekistan Under 20s on the 27th. From the draw of the group is was basically already decided that we would not make the next round that is why we already had friendlies planned nine days after the group stage ended against Tahiti Under 20s and six days later Papua New Guinea Under 20s and would be home a couple of days before the preseason with HVV would start again so it was pretty well-timed for me.

As said we played two games before the tournament started, it was mostly to get our match sharpness up. I already had a good idea of who would be the starting eleven these games and for the upcoming tournament. Our opponents on these friendlies where all countries that were about equally our strength unlike our opponents in the U20 World Cup. In our first game, we eventually won 4-3, we scored a lot of goals which was good by I worried that even with an opponent like Vanuata we let them score three goals not sure how that would go when we play against for instance Argentina. The second friendly was against Cuba which we won thanks to two goals by Kaliasi Mamani. we played two games, we had our match sharpness up a little bit but I was very much worried about the games to come.

After those games, we flew to South Korea which was also not easy with stops first in Brisbane in Australia and from there we took a flight to Seoul the capital of South Korea. This was a total of 19 hours flying and everybody was exhausted when we arrived which was not good. I gave the team the day off the next day I do not think to have a training the next day after traveling would have done us any good. I and many others slept in the next day and explored Seoul. In the evening we ate together and went to bed early. The next day we had a light training on the football pitch of one of the local football teams, The next few days we did some training, nothing too hard I did not want anybody to get injured. It was already going to be an uphill battle even without injuries.

The first game was against Zambia who was the second weakest team besides us. They are 69th in the world tanking against our 187th position in the world ranking. Six minutes after the start of the game, there was a foul and Zambia was given a penalty which they scored. fifteen minutes later in the 21st minute, Marshall Futa scored a goal after he got the ball for his feet in a fumble before the Zambia goal after Arnold Mamani shot against the post. A few minutes before halftime Zambia made the 2-1 by a header by Mike Lota. The mood in the dressing room during halftime was not bad, against all odds we were still in the game and still had a chance of winning this game. I gave them a motivational speech and send them back out on the pitch. Six minutes in the second half right-winger Paul Takayama crossed the ball before the goal and a Zambian defender shot the ball right in the feet of left-winger Phillip Samani who scores the 2-2 in the 51st minute. I shout from the sideline to motivate the team to make another goal. In the 75th minute disaster struck as Joseph Mayembe scored for Zambia, the 3-2 winner.

After the game the team was disappointed, we played well it went better than expected but it bear no fruit we still lost the game. I was proud of the boys and I made that very clear to the boys, they played very well against the team that was much stronger and we almost beat them. We had a couple of days to recuperate, three days after our Zambia game we would have to play against Argentina the number two of the world and a team with players who are literally paid millions a year against a team who are amateurs. I know and the team knew that they were about the me slaughtered but it was an honor playing against a team like Argentina and it was something you would tell your grandkids about how you played on the under 20 world cup against Argentina.

From the start of the game, it was clear that we would have nothing to say in this game it was only waiting for the first goal. We held out until the 15th minute when Tomás Conechny scored the first goal. Thirteen minutes later in the 28th minute, he scored his second of the match and six minutes after in the 34th minute that he scored his third making it a hattrick. At halftime it was 3-0 already or really only 3-0 it could have been worse and it wasn’t even that bad I half expected we would end the end in double digits but at the moment that was not yet happening. Four minutes in the second half Tomás Conechny scored his fourth and final goal in the match and was substituted off to rest for their next match. In the 76th their captain Gonzalo Maroni scored the 5-0 which was the final score for the game.

As with the other game I was proud of the game, although we only had two off-target shots on goal the whole game we only lost 5-0 against one of the strongest teams in the world. With that and our previous result, I was happy with how the u20 world cup was going. We still had one game left our game against Uzbekistan. We were basically already knocked out but Uzbekistan had to win against us to qualify and even Zambia could qualify as one of the four best third places in the groups but that was very unlikely seeing they still had to play Argentina. If Uzbekistan beat us and if Zambia somehow would beat Argentina than Argentina would still win the group on goal difference but there would be three teams with six points who all would go to the next round. Very unlikely and I did not see that happening though.

As often was the case this tournament we were behind in the first 10 minutes, Uzbekistan scored a goal in the 4th minute already by their attacker Bobur Abduholiqov. They where the stronger team the first half with the most possession and the most chances but they were not able to get another ball past our keeper luckily we at half time it was only 1-0 for them. During halftime, I encouraged the players telling them maybe we could get luckely and score a goal or maybe even two and win but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. We did keep them at bay somewhat and it took them until the 84th minute for them the score the second and winning goal when Islom Rashidxonov shot the ball past our keeper, the only 18-year-old Emmanuel Hale. The score ended with 2-0 and the under 20 worldcup was over for us.

In the end, Argentina won the group as expected and Uzbekistan was second in the group and went to the second round while Zambia and our team went home. In the second round, Argentina narrowly won against Japan 2-3 while Uzbekistan lost 3-0 against Australia. In the quarterfinal, Argentina did not have an easy draw they had to play against Portugal who are fifth in the world ranking. Portugal went on to win in penalties against France while in the other semi-final Croatia won on penalties against England. In the final Croatia won against Portugal in extra time.

We took the long flight back from South Korea with a stop in Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Island. I had to return to Solomon Island was not not able to go directly back to the Netherlands, back to the preseason with HVV because Solomon Island under 20 still had two friendlies planned. When I came off the plane at the Solomon Island I noticed I missed a call. I was an unknown number so I called back, it was the president of the Bangladesh football federation they wanted to offer me the job of under 19 managers of Bangladesh. I had already told the Solomon Island football association that I would do it until the world cup the friendlies after I only did as a courtesy. On my way back from Solomon Island I would make a stop in Bangladesh to sign my contract.

The Solomon Island knew I was resigning and had already arranged a successor for me. Samson Takayama a 38-year old ex-international who retired as a player was going to be my successor for the under 20 job. I was told I was not going to have to be the manager for the friendlies that were scheduled and the new manager would do it. That was the thanks I got for doing a pretty good job if I might say so myself. I still went and watch the games from the stance a spectator. Our opponents Tahiti under 20 and Papua New Guinea with whom we shared a flight were more our sizes and we won our games easily. We won 3-0 against Tahiti under 20 and 4-0 against Papua New Guinea. I left the Solomon Island, took a flight to Brisbane and from there back to HVV with a stop in Bangladesh.

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HVV – Return to former glory – Episode 7 – U20 World Cup draw and end of Season one

In March, a delegation of the Solomon Island football federation and me flew to South Korea for the draw for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. We were kinda lucky to have qualified because the Oceania Football Confederation received an additional slot (in total two), while UEFA will have five instead of six slots. I was also happy to not have to first fly to the Solomon island and then to South Korea. The draw itself was done by Diego Maradona and Pablo Aimar both former winners of the FIFA U-20 World Cup with Argentina. Talking about Argentina, we were in a group with them, Uzbekistan under 20, and Zambia under 20. The last two sounds like easy opponents but not for us, even those teams would probably outclass us. After shaking hands with Diego Maradona and Pablo Aimar we flew back to Solomon Island for the friendlies we had to play a week later.

We played two friendlies, the first one at home against the under 20 team of the Cook Island who were like us and also like American Samoa our second opponent in our friendlies near the bottom of the world ranking. The game against the Cook Island was close only in the last five minutes we were able to get the victory with goals by Eddie Joe in the 87th and 88th minute. The game against American Samoa Under 20s was boring, it ended in 0-0 and not a lot of chances on either side. We also planned a couple of friendlies before we would play the U20 World Cup we’ll play Vanuatu Under 20s and after that Cuba Under 20 team. Both are about our size so we’ll see how that goes.

Because we played well in the District Beker we also qualified for the KNVB Beker for amateurs. In the first round, we played against Baronie who plays one division above us. Thanks to goals by Furdjel Narsingh and Adham El Idrissi we won 2-1 against them. In the quarter-final, we play Sneek Wit Zwart who plays in the Hoofdklasse, 2 divisions above us. After full time it was 1-1 thanks to a goal by our midfielder Dario Tanda and in extra time we scored the 2-1 ofcourse by Adham El Idrissi. In the semi-final we played a familiar foe, we played against FC Rijnvogels who beat us in the final of the District Beker. In the end, we lost to them for the second time this season. They did, however, end up winning this cup too.

It was almost as if we did not want to become champions, we lost our first game against Teylingen who started strong but were drawing of losing almost all of their games. We lost the game 2-1. The next two games were nailbiters that we barely won, both won by scoring multiple goals in the last part of the games. In the game against Te Werve we were 3-1 behind in de 81th minute but thanks to three goals in the 88th, 89th and 92nd minute of the game we won de game. The next game against TOGB we were also behind but scored in the 75th and 79th minute to come back from 2-3 to 4-3. We were finally champions and with that weight off your shoulders, we started playing well again. We won 3-0 against SVC ’08, 3-1 against Laakkwartier and 4-1 in our final game of the season against Valken ’68.

In the end, we won the league easily, I do not think we ever really were in any danger of not winning the league seeing we were at the top of the league basically since the first game of the season. As for the selection, we have a lot of good players, in the cups, we have already shown that we can take on clubs that play one or more divisions above us. I’ll always keep an eye out on bargains, good players who are willing to come but I do not think we might need that many additions for the upcoming season.

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