The Hebiguchi Cup Final Preview

Posted by Chris Golding on Mar 28 2004 at 04:00PM PST
Big Bamboo Voodoo v Malones Shooters We’ve had the “Cockney” Cup Final (West Ham v Fulham) and we’ve had the Mersey Final. Tomorrow see’s the SIFL League Cup Final, (named in memory of the late Japanese player, Hebiguchi) between Big Bamboo Voodoo and Malone’s Shooters. Since the ‘spiritual’ homes of these two sides are within a very short distance, in fact, along the same stretch, this final is becoming known as the “Tongren Lu” Final. Malone’s Shooters are the odds on favorites for this game. They won the treble and Manila International last season and have already won this years League title. They are still on course to win the three domestic trophies again and they only lost their International title in a semi final penalty shoot out. Due to the ‘behind the scenes’ stamina of flamboyant head coach, John Joffre, the team are a ‘well – oiled’ machine that is firing on all cylinders. There doesn’t seem to be a team currently capable of tipping the scales. Big Bamboo have had a stuttery season by comparison. A big new sponsor this season, an influx of new talent and a squad rotation system has meant that the team hasn’t been able to gel consistently. One week they look like they could challenge for honors only for the following week to slip on the banana skins of teams less capable than themselves. At times the frustration of expectancy and inconsistency appears to have affected them as if they were playing against an opposition of 12 or 13 players. Like Claudio Ranieri, Rick Howard has also felt the pressure from all sides. However, the team is unbeaten this year and if player manager Howard, with the help of his experienced back room staff, can iron out the creases in their team play, they should be able to create more goal scoring opportunities. Like the great past teams of Brazil and how Arsenal are currently performing this season, if you can create problems for opposing defences you will end on top more often than not. Unfortunately for Voodoo, they don’t have a Ronaldo or a Henry. The Shanghai spring has started to bloom and the forecast on match day should provide conditions and perfect platform for a great game. On paper, Bamboo could simply be ‘steam-rollered’ as the Shooters look to take their second trophy on their 2003/2004 treble quest. On the other hand, if Bamboo can fire on all their cylinders in the right order, they just might cause an upset. In the spirit of all great cup competitions, anything can happen. What we hope is that such a derby doesn’t create a boring stalemate of blood and thunder but where both teams play the quality of football that are capable of or promise. Voodoo have shown on many occasions how their concentration and focus can slip over 90 minutes. This could be a day of half chances and unfortunate mistakes. On that basis and with all things considered, it’s more likely that the ribbons on display at full time will be Red and Black. However, in the lottery of knock out competitions, form and expectations mean nothing. After all the pre-match analysis and stats, we’ll have to wait and see if this can be a great classic with a possible upset or if the Shooters monopoly ‘band wagon’ continues unchallenged. Ultimately, Big Bamboo Voodoo has no pressure and should go out to enjoy their day. A ‘Wimbledon’ sprit and composure may just take them those few extra yards to collect their prize. The stage is set, the cameras are rolling but who ultimately will collect the Oscars? We’ll find out sometime after 2.30pm tomorrow.


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