The ASFA African Cup concluded on Sunday evening with favorites Carlton coming out as eventual champions after a tight contest against home side Kensington in the Seniors Final winning 2-1. Earlier, the Juniors final saw Oromo FC take down the much fancied Fitzroy Lions 4-3 on penalties.
It was a game that felt like it was being interrupted by an intruder, as Kensington walked out onto the field. Many fans were expecting the cliche Carlton vs North Melbourne final, but Kensington proved to be more than worth opponents during the course of the game.
Carlton sprung a couple of surprises in their starting line-up, lining up without former Nike The Chance contestant Mohammed Mohammed and skillful winger Obsa; both regular starters for the finalists. Kensington demoted striker Ahmed Musa in place of new acquisition Abdirahman Ahmed.
The first half belonged to the reigning finalists though, with lone striker Nick scoring the first goal of the game in the 21st minute. The most jaw dropping moment of the game came in the 36th minute when Carlton winger Arnold showed super human speed to latch onto a through and skillfully chip it over the charging keeper; leaving the crowd in absolute stunned awe.
Arnold and crowd favorite Sami Bakhit combined on several occasions to give Kensington a head ache; but Arnold’s influence was lessened drastically in the second half when he was successfully man marked by makeshift full back Tamir, after a first half that was sure to give the defense nightmares.
Mohammed Mohammed came on at half time and made a crucial challenge on the edge of the box in the 50th minute to deny a goal scoring opportunity, unfortunately he only knocked it into the path of Kensington midfielder Ilhan, who came up with an inch perfect shot to beat Carlton’s keeper, who was putting in a David De Gea-esque performance.
The Oliver Khan look alike was not done there, saving Carlton on several more occasions, despite the Carlton defense doing a pretty decent job of minimizing the influence of Kensington striker Abdirahman; the man known as HD not proving to have a very highly defined view of goal, as he sprayed shots high and wide of Carlton’s goal, leaving some in the crowd wondering if the boy with all the talent in the world had indeed passed his prime that had seen him travel to Spain for Football with a few of his fellow finalists from the opposing team.
In all fairness, Abdirahman looked like he was just not getting the support he needed, and as a result his team fell short and Carlton held on to be crowned ASFA African Cup Senior Champions 2014. It was pandemonium after the game, with captain Abdullah Okud being lifted on the shoulders of the team in celebration. Mohammed was beaming after the game, somewhat relieved that his accidental touch did not cost his side the cup.
In the Juniors final, Oromo FC emerged victorious, beating out tournament favorites Fitzroy Lions in the final. The game finished 0-0 after 120 minutes of normal time and extra time, with nothing separating the two teams in a very entertaining scoreless game.
It was an intriguing tactical battle with the 4-3-3 of Fitzroy coming up against the 4-5-1 of Oromo. Regular Lions winger Hamza El-Amin was played as a make shift right back, after not scoring this tournament, and put in a performance that any regular full back would be proud of; he might want to reconsider his permanent position.
Oromo lone striker Najee Samra played his part and certainly held his own but looked somewhat stranded, not receiving the support he needed from the midfield. Number 10 Ibrahim struggled to get into the game, and his Lions counterpart with the same number also didn’t have the best game of his life, but both made up for it scoring their penalties in the shoot out.
It came down to Oromo defender Abdulkalik to convert the final penalty to win Oromo the title. The boy who used to apply his trade as an out and out striker at Heidelberg Stars was no stranger to putting the ball in the back of the net, but this was extra pressure. He delivered though, powerfully slotting the ball into the left side of the net, with Lions goalkeeper Karmah only an agonizing fingertip away from saving it after going the right way. But at the end of play, Oromo FC were champions!
Speaking of which, there’s no rest for the weary as the Oromo Tournament begins tomorrow. The Juniors draw is wide open, but I’m tipping the Lions to come back roaring and go one step further and win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Oromo FC prove me wrong and go all the way once again. As for the Seniors, my sources tell me that (Eritrea) Melbourne United have recruited the Eritrean player from the champion Carlton side to play for them in this tournament, so I’m tipping them to go all the way, despite bowing out at the Quarter Finals stage of the ASFA African Cup.