The final 2 games (part 2)

I’m nervous, worried even. It’s the excitement as well as the hope that’s the worse. It’s putting your faith in 11 players to try and get the job done. We’ve got 1 game left this season to achieve promotion, something I’ve promised we’ll get. If we fail at the final hurdle, could it be the end of my stint as manager of Penang? That’s not something I want to think about right now, because right now I’ve got to get this team prepared for the biggest match of the season

Pre match tactical briefing

‘Right lads, this is it, the biggest game of the season. I hope none of you are already thinking about the break after because we cannot afford to lose this game, we have to win this match, because you know as well as anyone, if we do that we’ll be promoted to the Super League’

Mohd Sukri translates my message. ‘They understand the importance of this game boss’

‘Thanks. Tell the team that despite Terengganu winning the last 5 in a row, we’ve got to be confident of getting something here, with any luck they’ll already be on the beach, figuratively speaking, as they can’t get promoted, so they are there for the taking today no doubt about it’

My message is relayed. My plan is also relayed to the team, get the ball out wide, run at their defence and get the ball into Katende quick and often. We’ve got to put them under pressure and pressure them early.

Pre match press conference

‘How do you feel going into this game knowing that you may not achieve promotion, despite promising it at the start of the year?’

‘I knew the risk of guaranteeing promotion at the start of the year, but I’m confident we can see this through’

‘Do you fear for your future if you don’t get promoted today?’

‘That thought hasn’t crossed my mind, as I said I’m confident we can achieve my aim today’

‘Terengganu have won the last 5 games, can you break their streak?’

‘I’m confident we can. I know if we play as we can do then there’s no reason to think we can’t win today. Thank you’

The final game of the season vs Terennganu 2

Here we go then. Nerves, excitement, worry, confidence, any other emotions there are are running through me today. This could go 1 of 3 ways today, we win, get promoted and we prepare for next season in the Super league. We don’t win but PKNP also don’t and we go up from third place as Terengganu 2 can’t be promoted. We lose, PKNP take our place in third and we live to fight another day. I want option 1 or 2.

We start the game on the front foot and have an early shot which is well saved. On 4 minutes we gave away a free kick out wide on the left. From the free kick the ball is swung and falls kindly to Sabri who is closed down by our keeper Carlos Espinoza, but he can’t get his feet straight and the ball is placed under him

4th minute of the game

‘Carlos, CARLOS! What the fucking hell was that?!? Why didn’t you dive at his feet?!?’

Carlos looks at me in disgust and waves his arms towards the defence. Where were you fuckers I read from his lips. The players in the box drop their heads.

‘Lads, this isn’t the time to feel sorry for yourself, there’s 85 minutes left. Get back at it and stop pissing around’

21 minutes in

Aroon Kumar has gone into the ref’s book for dissent. He doesn’t seem happy with the decision to award Penang a free kick.

Play resumes with Seung-Jo on the ball just inside the Terennganu half, he’s closed down by Aroon Kumar but manages to get just by him with the ball at his feet, he’s looking for options in the middle….

What a bad tackle there by Kumar, bloody hell he’s gone in really hard there and Seung-Jo is on the ground holding his ankle.

Kumar’s telling the ref he got the ball…….

It’s red, it’s a straight red card, he’s off, Terengganu are down to 10 men, this is a great chance for Penang to get back into the game

‘Kang, get the ball in towards the penalty spot, remember what we worked on in training, our center halves are good in the air’ I tell Kang whilst gesturing with my hands, his English isn’t so good. This is where we get back into this game I silently tell myself…

Kang is stood over the ball here, he’ll be looking for a good delivery, Penang’s full team bar Carlos Espinoza are in the Terengganu half.

Here’s Kang with the ball in, and it’s a poor one as it doesn’t reach any Penang player….

Terengganu get the ball out quickly, and here’s Asha’ri on the wing with the ball he’s running forwards

He’s beat Kang who went to ground! He’s in the Penang half all alone with just Espinoza to beat….

Espinoza doesn’t know what to do, he’s racing backwards towards goal, oh wait he’s coming out to meet Asha’ri

Asha’ri knocks it past him, he’s free and he’s got an open goal in front of him…

He’s run right up to the goal and taps it in, it’s 2-0 to the 10 men of Terennganu.

I can’t believe what we’ve just seen, less than 2 minutes ago Terengganu had a man sent off, from the resulting free kick they countered and now it’s 2-0 and Penang’s game plan has come undone, can they salvage anything from this game?

What is going on?!? How the hell are we 2 down to a team with 10 men?

‘Right Kang, get the ball and hoof it forward, nothing fancy just go route 1, Katende, I’m expecting you to win those long balls, knock it down for the 3 in midfield’. Hopefully me message gets across……

From the kick off here’s Kang Seung-Jo in the middle of the park and he plays a give and go Yong

Who plays a long ball over the top

Katende is there and knocks the ball down into the path of the oncoming Seung-Jo who takes a touch, it’s in it’s in the back of the net, Penang are back in the game 2-1!

We managed to get to the half at 2-1.

‘We’ve not been good enough. They’re down to 10 men, how are we letting them still be in this game?!?’

Little respone from the team. I can tell they’re deflated, but if playing against a team with a man sent off and promotion at stake doesn’t inspire you, then nothing can.

79th minute of the game

Penang have clearly been the better team here, they’ve tried everything they can to get the equalising goal, I’m sure they’re aware that PKNP are winning their game

Hang on here comes Katende now inside left channel, he’s looking for support

There’s nothing on, he’s having to hold the ball up

Oh great defending there as the ball rolls out for a throw

Katende is going absolutely mad down there, he’s frustrated there was no support, even the manager Tarasov is hurling abuse at the players

94th minute of the game

Terengganu are in no rush to take this throw in deep in their own half

There’s the final whistle, and the Penang fans are booing and hollering at the team. What an absolutely poor second half from them today.

They know they’ve not gained promotion, in fact they’ve now finished 5th in the league. There’s going to be some serious questions being asked at that club this off season.

I don’t even speak to the team. I grab my bag and I leave the stadium. I’m hoping I don’t bump into any fans as I know the amount of grief I’ll likely get.

I failed. I over promised and under delivered. I’m absolutely devastated at this, we had the perfect chance to win that game and stuffed it.

Next episode – The day after (mini-sode)

Previous episode – The final 2 games (part 1)


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