Al'amal – Solis, Capricornus 1, 249
That’s what they tell you to do in tense, stressful situations.
But on Mars, where every breath counts, just breathing may need to be done sparingly.
Especially, when your oxygen tank of gaseous gold is running low and depleting by the second.
Because no one on your team can put a goal into the opposing team’s net.
A goal that not only would keep your playoff hopes alive… but also keep you alive.
With 55 minutes of oxygen supply per half in their suits, minus 45 minutes of game time, minus another 3 minutes of added time, minus every minute of missed penalty shots, equals new meaning to the term…Sudden Death Overtime.
This was the case in Week 12’s Al’amal SC vs. Tiangong Wuji match which needed 16 penalty kicks in overtime to determine a victor.
“We decided to go to straight to Penalty Kicks in Overtime to improve players’ safety but clearly, our players weren’t helping themselves out there with all those missed shots”, nervously laughed MAFL Commissioner Aiger Masing.
“I’ve never seen so many missed penalty shots before”, said Wuji Captain Stanisals Hachette. “And those oxygen warning messages that kept repeating in our helmets – not helpful!”
Al’amal SC forward Arwa Farra agreed. “They were downright terrifying to be honest.”
It was Farra, the twinkle-toed forward, who opened the match’s scoring at the 27th minute. But alas in this match, Farra was one of many players who missed their shot.
After Al’amal SC was able to unlock the Wuji defence with their rapid change of pace, close control and crisp passing, a superb run and cross set up Farra’s volley into the far corner past Wuji goalkeeper, Trenton Seaton. Al’amal SC 1 – Wuji 0.
It was Farra’s 5th goal of the season, moving her up to 3rd on the season’s goal leaderboard.
“I’m here to help my team win a championship,” said Farra, “And if I need to score more goals to help achieve that, happy to do so and take over the league lead from Lanka and Nash.”
After muddling through most of the first half, unable to find a way around their opponent’s deep-lying and tenacious defence, Wuji manager Bobby Chung signalled their attacking intent by switching from their favoured 5-4-1 formation to a 4-2-3-1 system.
It paid off as Wuji was able to mount more pressure resulting in a goal at the 41st minute. Vygintas Repsas was able to burst into the Al’amal penalty area, and deliver a backward header into the net for the equalizer.
In the 2nd half, both teams continued to run fearlessly at each other’s defence, willing to make bold decisions in a bid to generate the winner.
But to no avail. And despite three minutes of extra time added, the score remained 1 to 1.
Straight to Penalty Kicks.
Shot 1 - Al’amal Captain Musaddiq Baddour powered a superb shot past Seaton. Goal! PKOT 1-0
Shot 2 - Wuji: From one Captain to another – Stanislas Hachette’s low drive….forced a fine fingertip save from Al’amal goalkeeper Ahmed al-Pour. PKOT 0-1
Shot 3 - Al’amal’s Hamad Fayad choose right…as did Seaton - Save. PKOT 1-0
Oxygen Supply Warning – 5 Minutes Remaining, announced in Wuji's Chen Jai's helmet, prompting a nervous kick right into al-Pour’s welcoming hands for Shot 4. PKOT 0-1
Shot 5 - Al’amal’s Farra boosts a kick over a leaping Seaton…and over the net. PKOT 1-0
Shot 6 – Wuji’s John Ming Wong boosts a kick left and wide of the net. PKOT 0-1
Shot 7 – Al’amal’s Genrietta Olegovna sails one over the top far corner. PKOT 1-0
Oxygen Supply Warning – 4 Minutes Remaining.
Shot 8 – Wuji’s Ozil Alvi rushes a shot right into a diving al-Pour who catches it before it can cross the line. PKOT 0-1
Shot 9 – Al’amal’s Vivian Badour goes right and Seaton guesses right too. PKOT 1-0
Shot 10 – The tour buses start up and are ready to leave as an Al’amal save ends the game…until Wuji’s Respas responds with magic again! Goes left, past a diving al-Pour – Goal! PKOT 1 – 1.
There must be a winner announces the Referee as the teams scramble to get their players lined up for the next round of shots.
Oxygen Supply Warning – 3 Minutes Remaining.
Shot 11 – Al’amal’s Rashaa Adel rushes up to the line and nervously boosts a kick wide right.
Shot 12 – Wuji’s Alicia Beldad goes left…as does al-Pour who makes the grab.
Al’amal’s Akaltat Mohar mutters an expletive in his helmet and angrily boosts a shot left…into a diving Seaton, who cannot stop its momentum as the ball and goalkeeper cross the line – Goal!
The crowd goes wild and the tour shuttles power-up for departure until...
Wuji’s Anne-Marije Festen follows suit with a boost shot through the hands of al-Pour – Goal!
“The game isn’t over!”, cried the fans.
Oxygen Supply Critical– 2 Minutes Remaining.
Shot 15 – Al’amal’s Ikram Muhammad boosts a shot right as Seaton guesses left…into the post bouncing away from the net – No goal!
Shot 16 - Wuji’s Zeng Qigang sends a low shot to the left corner which al-Pour guessed correctly, but past his outstretched hands. His tired reflexes (and nerves) could not match his instincts. – Goal!
Game Over – PKOT 3 to 2 for Wuji!
And the crowd goes wild (again)! Everyone exhales.
After the match, with everyone equipped with copious quantities of oxygen, Commissioner Masing stated, “We will look into the necessary changes to ensure this does not happen again.”
Wuji move out of the basement with a 4 - 8 record while Al’amal drops to 6 - 6 for the season.