AUBG Soccer Cup 2015
It’s not unusual for football fans to storm the gates of stadiums worldwide in feverish expectancy of the unfolding of soccer games’ bitter rivalries. At one point it’s Champions League’s clashes at the knock-out stages between Europe’s football giants Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. In another instance it’s every World Cup’s trophy match between national teams like those of Germany versus Argentina at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. What the two football competitions have in common is the direct elimination games that have always brought the biggest excitement and the greatest number of fan crowds.
With such a motivation in mind and considering the hunger of AUBG‘s football teams for playing even more soccer than the one provided by the AUBG Soccer League, the tournament organizers decided to initiate the traditional AUBG Soccer Cup. Based solely on the principle of direct elimination 30-minute games, seeding out the best teams in the university, the AUBG Soccer Cup was able to generate a total of 12 participating teams.
The matches, part of a predetermined game scheme, stretched the Cup’s timetable for a total of 15 days and a sum of 12 games played. This year’s format differed from last year’s program. During the Soccer Cup held in Fall 2014, a tournament won by Black Eagles, all matches were played in a single day.
This year the winners were the boys from Oldies & Fatties, captained by Mario Grachenov, who recorded a total of two wins, a draw and a loss to claim the title before the second-placed team of O ZateP and third-placed team of Kvo Govorish.
“The key factor was that we played as a team during all the games,” Grachenov said. “We supported each other all the time and when one of us had bad time, all the others stayed behind him.”
After reaching the last round of games, the three finalists in the Cup were scheduled to play in a trio of matches where each team faced the other two. With Oldies & Fatties, O ZateP and Kvo Govorish winning and losing a game each, it was up to the goal difference (the ratio of goals scored to goals conceded) to determine which team would win the tournament.
Before reaching that final stage, though, the three teams were bound to win their previous two knock-out games in the first and second round. It was the first round that proved to be the hardest for the three teams as three marginal wins, two of which on penalties, allowed for their qualification.
The cornerstone of their further advancement, though, was the second round of matches, where the main focus was the elimination of the Soccer League’s first-placed Black Jaguars and second-placed Black Eagles, which both played with almost identical squad in the Cup.
Oldies & Fatties 3 – 3 AILIYACITE (4 – 2 on penalty shoot-out)
0 ZateP 1 – 1 Tirona VK (3 – 0 on penalty shoot-out)
Kvo Govorish 3 – 2 Erasmus guys
Black Jaguars 1 – 4 Oldies & Fatties
Phoenix 1- 4 Kvo Govorish
Black Eagles 1 – 2 0 ZateP
The first game of the second round was Black Jaguars vs. Oldies&Fatties, which ended with a 4-1 win for Oldies&Fatties. During the game, fans of both teams were constantly chanting in support of the players. Alexander Parunov, a third-year student, said he thought that Black Jaguars would win, but they lost because of the intensity of the game. “After [the] second goal it was difficult to chase Oldies&Fatties,” Parunov said. “The game was equal, but Oldies&Fatties took their chances very well.”
Artur Kessayev, the captain of Black Jaguars, said that the outcome of the game was decided already after the first half, with a 0-4 score at half-time, even though his team “fought until the last whistle.”
“We did not stick to our plan of the game. We were not as motivated as they were,” Kessayev said. However, his team did not get discouraged. “After all, it is football. Anyone can [out]win anyone.”
Mario Grachenov, the captain of Oldies&Fatties, said that even though his team did a great job at that game, there was still room for improvement. “Maybe when we win the championship in December, I will finally be happy and satisfied,” Grachenov said.
Following the first game was that of Phoenix vs. Kvo Govorish which ended with the score of 1-4. Kostas Giouzakov, the captain of Phoenix, said that his team lost solely because of their own poor performance, despite the determination they had before the start. Notably, some of the players had been injured, but, according to Giouzakov, “in no case this an excuse for us. Our loss just means that we were not good enough as a team, and there is still a lot of room for improvement.” The captain said that their opponent showed “impressive” team spirit and improvement.
The captain of Kvo Govorish, Yanko Atanasov agreed with Giouzakov, saying that they played as a team and that trusting one’s teammates is the key to success. “[The game with Phoenix] was a tough game but we were really determined because winning it meant going to the final,” Atanasov said. “I am very happy with the performance of the team.” Georgi Georgiev, a fourth-year student, said that the team had a great performance on the field. According to him, Kvo Govorish managed to win a deserved bronze medal.
The final match of the night was the 1-2 Black Eagles vs. 0 ZateP game. Both of the teams fought hard until the end, but 0 ZateP managed to score one more goal in the end of the second half. Georgi Georgiev, the captain of Black Eagles, said the the main reasons for the loss were the great game played by 0 ZateP, the multiple emotional outbursts from Black Eagles players and, lastly, the lack of luck. “0 ZateP is a very strong opponent. They play a game which is very difficult to adjust, and we couldn’t take of all their players and defend them properly,” Georgiev said.
“We should not have lost our temper,” Georgiev said. He added that 0 ZateP showed their top level play, and he hopes that the next time they play together, the story of the match won’t repeat itself.
Having qualified for the decisive all-versus-all round, each team scored a win and a loss. While Kvo Govorish beat O ZateP with the score 2-1, Oldies & Fatties were quick to bring them to a halt with a 4-1 victory. In the last of the three games played, O ZateP registered a 2-1 win over Oldies & Fatties to claim the silver medals.
The conclusion of the AUBG Cup came after the last game on Thursday, Dec. 3, followed by the awarding of the teams. Oldies & Fatties’ Stefan Nikolov was given the award for the most valuable player in the Cup.
Seeing the students’ drive for soccer trending higher and higher speaks volumes of the joy they have competing in a game of soccer. Would it trend even higher next semester will remain an open question up until the start of Spring ’16 Soccer League in February next year. While on a wait, it’s the Soccer League that will keep the spirits high. With more matches still to be played in it and more medals to be distributed, the remaining days till the end of the semester are set to be just as eventful in soccer as the past two months have been so far.
This article was the joint effort of AUBG Daily’s Owls Georgi Dobrev and Karina Khristich.
Photo credits: Ainura Niyazova