Saturday, October 23, 2077
Earth-World Associated Press
With the UEFA Champions League barely underway, football fans will have to wait another 7 months before a conclusive championship match. During that time, where will football fans get their playoff fix?
Look no further than Mars, where the inaugural season of the Martian Aero Football League (MAFL) is generating a new buzz for football fans as they head down the playoff stretch.
A key battle in Week 18 of MAFL play - the Noviymir Dynamo vs. the Al’amal SC.
Leading up to the match, both Al’amal and the Amrita Immortals were clinging onto a final playoff spot with a red hot Dynamo right on their heels. The battle for their playoff lives has been a welcome reprieve for the Dynamo as their real lives have been turned upside down by the Chubarov outbreak.
Since being locked out, the Dynamo have been undefeated as a new goalkeeper, a new commitment to defence, and a new motivation to uplift the spirits of their colony has helped them go undefeated.
Extending their undefeated streak to 4 matches would not come easy against the high powered Al’amal offence - the leading scoring team in the league with three of their players in the top five for goals scored.
And one of those players, Captain Musaddiq Baddour, opened scoring at the 30th minute when he dribbled past two defenders before rounding the goalkeeper Boris Danilovich and slotting home.
The Dynamo’s Amaresh Yaee Etefu responded 9 minutes later with a header to the corner past goalkeeper Ahmed al-Pour.
Dynamo’s Mariah Maalouf gave the team the lead at the 49th minute by meeting a cross from Captain Ilya Petrovich with a stunning volley from outside the penalty area.
And then the Dynamo went on the defence and stymied the powerful Al’amal offence for the next 40 minutes. Just when it looked like the Dynamo would win again, Balraj Sodhi delivered a left foot volley following a cross by Arwa Farra for the tying goal – at the 89th minute!
Which led to overtime and in MAFL play that means straight to penalty kicks! Unlike Earth football, penalty kicks are welcomed by fans for their excitement, and by players due for survival purposes – they only have so much oxygen in the tank – literally!
In Penalty Kicks, Dynamo’s Petrovich struck first. A couple of misses later were then followed by Al’amal’s Genrietta Olegovna to tie things up. Five failed shots followed before Dynamo’s former goalkeeper, Ilya Kyrylyuk, curled a shot past al-Pour for the winner in the final penalty shot of OT!
PKOT 2-1 for the Dynamo. The win is now their fourth in a row and has them tied with Al’amal for the final playoff spot with three weeks to go.
“For most of the season, I have felt like I've let down the team,” said a jubilant Kyrylyuk after the match. “I can't express how much this goal means to me on a personal level.”
On another celebratory note, Novyimir will be lifting the quarantine tomorrow, so the Dynamos will will be finally returning home to reunite with loved ones.
And the end of the regular MAFL season is in sight as three weeks remain until the playoffs. Football fans stay tuned. There’s an exciting march to the finish happening in Mars Football.