The Soccer Gods at AUBG
With the hectic spring 2015 semester, rich in paper deadlines, last-minute assignment submissions and stressful presentations now almost in the past, it is that time of the year when we, the AUBG students, begin to reflect upon the precious moments we have shared together. Alongside the many big events going on at the end of the semester, another equally thrilling event, which also deserved its fair share of applause, was the final match day of the AUBG Soccer League.
Last Thursday night, April 23, at the ABF Sports Hall, the AUBG Soccer League was ready to finish in the sportiest of manners. That night, the best four teams were set to play for the top three spots in the tournament.
With two games on the agenda, one for the third place and the other for the first, the league organizers provided soccer fans and players with two spectacular games and a glamorous award ceremony to end a semester rich in weekly soccer games.
Qualified for the final two games were the teams of Anakonda, Black Eagles, O Zatep and Black Jaguars. All four had previously gone through an initial group phase of playing matches where they were among the first eight teams to advance to the elimination round. At that next stage, the eight teams were divided into four pairs scheduled to play two matches each to determine the semi-finalists of the tournament.
“The Spring 2015 AUBG football tournament group stage was really breathtaking,” Hristomir Dobrev, a player from the team Dve rakii, molq!, assessed. “Every team was in a good condition and every match was a derby. But the two teams which really leveled up the game were O Zatep and Black Jaguars.”
Being the best two teams in that group stage, Black Jaguars and O Zatep were steadily recording win after win, finishing first and second respectively. Both teams conceded only one loss in that period, in addition to their impressive goal tallies of over 60 goals scored by each team.
In the quarter-finals of the tournament, Black Jaguars faced Tirona VK, while O Zatep played against KocTeHyPkaTa NiNja in two games, a match and a rematch, to determine two of the four teams to advance to the semi-finals. The other two were determined in the games Dve rakii, molq! versus Anakonda and Black Eagles versus BARnaSELOna.
After all four derbies were played, Anakonda, Black Eagles, O Zatep and Black Jaguars were the ones to advance. It was time for the semi-finals to decide which two teams would move up to the final and which two would be playing for the third place bronze medals.
While O Zatep had to play against Anakonda, Black Jaguars were set to face Black Eagles, a rivalry of very old origins. In a week both games provided a great amount of goals and tactical outwitting. Winning with an aggregate score of 9-2, Black Jaguars defeated Black Eagles and were the first to qualify for the big final.O Zatep were the other team to advance to the match for the first place, beating Anakonda the score being 6-2.
Coming to that final night of matches, all four teams were to be praised. All were giving solid reasons for students to watch their final matches and support their players in the teams.
Anakonda was the lowest ranked team to qualify for the semi-finals, recording a win, a draw and a loss against the other three teams left to compete in the tournament.
Black Eagles were the team with the greatest amount of trophies in recent AUBG Soccer history – two Olympics first places, a first and a second place at the annual AUBG Cup and four-times medalist in the AUBG Soccer League tournament.
O Zatep was the team with the strongest defense in the tournament, conceding only 26 goals throughout the whole tournament. They were also the team whose main players have played together for the longest amount of time, this being their fourth consecutive season in the league.
Black Jaguars were the team mostly associated with records: record amount of goals from one player – Ruzbe Asadullayev (43 goals), record amount of assists from one player – Artur Kessayev (23 assists), and most astonishingly, a record amount of team goals – 94 before their final game.
Starting with the first match, Black Eagles vs. Anakonda, the spectator stand immediately began to chant their support. As both teams quickly switched to their top gear of performance, goals soon started to hit the back of both goal nets. First to score was the team of Anaconda. Their early goal came as an incentive to the Black Eagles, who scored one back to level the score before the first half of the game.
In the second half, the Black Eagles took advantage with another goal. Taking the lead, they became even more dominant, continuing to score goal after goal till the final whistle of the referee was blown to end a goal strike stopped at the emphatic score of 7-1.
After a short pause of motivating music and team announcements, Black Jaguars and O Zatep stepped up to decide who will be the trophy holder. As the game started, both teams displayed thrilling skills, amazing technique and combinative play, which took the audience up to their feet chanting in support.
Especially energetic were O Zatep fans. “That which impressed me the most was no doubt the sincere support that the O Zatep team received from its supporters,” Ivaylo Praslavski, one of the spectators, said. “Their enthusiasm and fervor were great and created an atmosphere that this final deserved.”
Goals were meant to be scored in the game and soon the first one came. O Zatep opened the score with well-timed shot hitting the back of the net. With the defensive strength of O Zatep, the goal was a good indication for an even tighter match.
Soon after the start of the second half, though, Black Jaguars equalized and later managed to get ahead, with Gennady Solovey scoring two quick goals. As precious time slipped away for an equalizer, O Zatep pushed forward with all they had and luckily for them, a ricochet after a shot form Viktor Mechev gave them the much-needed sigh of relief, the score becoming 2-2.
With penalty shoot-out now in line both teams pulled what all fans expected to be a fantastic accuracy shooting. The better of the two became O Zatep, finally being able to claim their first AUBG Soccer League table.
Shortly after the enormous crowd managed to express their happiness and sorrow from the result of that final match, by either clapping hands with the winners or consoling the runner-ups, the award ceremony began.
Alongside the top three teams, O Zatep, Black Jaguars and Black Eagles, which were awarded individual medals and a cup, fans also saw the winners of the nominee categories for the best goalkeeper (Alisher Kadirov – Black Jaguars), best defender (Amir Tazhinov – Black Jaguars), best non-student player (Pierangelo Castagneto – Black Eagles), best assist player (Artur Kessayev) and most valuable player (Gennady Solovey – Black Jaguars).
Impressions from the quality of the tournament this semester had been astounding. Myriad of goals, plenty of twists and turns in match results and a whole lot of fan support. Having so many unknowns for the next semester’s league, students will once again begin to ponder on who will become the next AUBG Soccer League Champion. Will O Zatep manage to reclaim their title or will some other team manage to get the better of them?