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Thread: [STORY] The Palestinian Predicament (Red9)

  1. #26
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    Chapter 9 - Germany 2006

    Part V Continued






    World Cup Group E vs Russia
    Saturday 22nd June 2006


    The score is 1-0 to Russia and we're in the 84th minute. Palestine need a goal to go through


    The Game: In the 84th minute, with both teams looking for a goal, Palestine pushed forward down the left wing with Al-Amour. He threaded it through the defenders for Al-Sehri who was running down the wing on the overlap. Al-Sehri got to the ball and sent in a deep cross to the back post where Al-Mubarak was waiting. He out-jumped the defender and headed the ball towards the top corner of the goal . . . only for the Russian 'keeper to pull off an amazing diving save and he pushed the ball around the post. I gestured to Abusidu to stay back so our only defender to come forward for the corner was Bishara. I didn't want Russia to get a goal on the counter-attack. But I noticed that (due to the very few Palestinian players in the opposition box) Russia had their wingers near the half-way line ready to break. I hope this corner goes well. It was taken by Obaid - he floated in a cross towards the centre of the penalty area. A crowd of players jumped up including Al-Mubarak and Attal who were surrounded by 4 defenders. Then, out of nowhere, the 'keeper rose and plucked the ball out of the air - another great save I thought. But now we were in trouble. The 'keeper quickly through the ball out to the captain Arshavin on the right-wing. He already had Zhirkov with him, and Denisov and Taranov were running forward with great urgency. This would probably be Russia's best chance to get the winning goal. Within a few seconds of the corner we were outnumbered on the half-way line 3 against 4. Arshavin brought the ball infield and passed the ball to Denisov on the edge of the 'D'. Arshavin continued his run into the penalty area and Denisov flicked the ball into his path between the defenders. Arshavin hit a fierce first-time shot. . . Spoiler:
    GOAL FOR RUSSIA!!! As the Russian players ran off to celebrate I held my head in my hands. So close! But then . . . Spoiler:
    the assistant is flagging! It's offside! The Russians were furious and in the mix-up Al-Arabi quickly took the free-kick and launched it forward towards Al-Mubarak. If we get posession it's 2 against 2 here. Al-Mubarak jumped with his marker and headed the ball towards the centre of the pitch . . . where Attal and his marker were sprinting to get to the ball first! The short, sturdy Attal out-muscled his marker and took the ball into the penalty area. Just the 'keeper to beat . . . Spoiler:
    GOAL FOR PALESTINE!!! Attal made the 'keeper dive left whilst he skipped past him to the right to slot the ball into the empty net! 1-1 and there were just over 5 minutes remaining.
    Thankfully, the goal punched the life out of the Russians and they were unable to respond. The last few minutes of the game lasted about 2 days but when the final whistle blew we were through to the next round! Palestine in Round 2 of the World Cup!












    Result: Spoiler:





    Match Stats: Spoiler:





    Manager's thoughts: Need I say more? We were in the Seond Round of the World Cup and we would be playing either Uruguay or England next.

    MOM, Ivan Taranov Spoiler:





    Spoiler:
    That concluded the Group Stage and this is how it finished:


    Code:

    P W D L GD PTS Portugal 3 3 0 0 +5 9 Palestine 3 1 1 1 +2 4 Russia 3 0 2 1 -1 2 Morocco 3 0 1 2 -6 1





    * * *

  2. #27
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    Chapter 9 - Germany 2006

    Part VI






    World Cup Last 16 vs Uruguay
    Tuesday 27th June 2006


    Allianz-Arena, Munchen

    Line-ups and formations: Spoiler:







    Player we need to watch out for: Spoiler:





    Palestine Team news: I made two changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Russia - Al-Hindi came in for Al-Amour on the left wing and Yousef replaced Abusidu in central defence. Abusidu had caught the flu and could only make it as a sub. I instructed Al-Hindi and Al-Azeezi to play narrow when we had the ball and I made sure that Attal and Obaid would be supporting Al-Mubarak up front.

    The Game: It took 20 minutes for this World Cup 2nd Round match to start properly. Until that time both teams played sensibly - unfortunately they were playing too sensibly and neither team had any noteworthy attempts on target. As soon as the 21st minute started it was as though the players realised that they were supposed to be trying to score. Firstly, Uruguay put together a lovely passing move, using the space between the Palestinian players very well. They worked the ball out to the right wing where Viudez beat Al-Hindi and Al-Sehri to power in a low cross to the front post that was hit first time by Forlan. Al-Arabi was stranded and could only watch as the ball rolled. . . Spoiler:
    . . .agonisingly past the post and out for a goal kick.



    Just a few minutes later, Cavani, received the ball in the centre circle and he was immediately closed down by Kaw'reh. But, he dropped his shoulder, and went past him with ease. As Kaw'reh tried to catch up with his lost man Cavani threaded a delicate pass through the Palestinian centre-backs for Forlan to run onto. He was one-on-one with Al-Arabi . . . Spoiler:
    . . .and this time he made no mistake as he slotted the ball calmly past Al-Arabi who was proving my fear for the lack of goalkeeping quality we had.
    GOAL FOR URUGUAY!!!




    We responded well to the set-back by creating some chances for ourselves. First, Al-Azeezi played in Al-Mubarak who was denied only by a superb one-handed save by their 'keeper. Then, Obaid had a chance when a deflected shot from Attal fell to him following a corner but he couldn't take advantage and his weak shot was gathered by the Uruguayan 'keeper. Then, in the 36th minute we put together a fine move ourselves - Bishara brought the ball forwards out of defense and played a one-two with Kaw'reh before passing the ball out to the right-wing for Al-Azeezi. He went past his man thanks to a quick exchange of passes with Al-Khojali who was pushing forward down the wing. Al-Azeezi played him in and when Al-Khojali got down to the by-line he sent in a high, looping cross towards the back post. Al-Mubarak rose high but could only head it back towards the edge of the area . . . Spoiler:
    . . . where Attal was arriving late and he hit a superb right-footed drive low into the net past the 'keeper's right hand side.
    GOAL FOR PALETINE!!! 1-1 and we were back in the game.



    The game was played at the same frantic pace for the rest of the half with both teams creating chances. In the 44th minute Kaw'reh picked up the ball, brought the ball forward and was hacked down from behind 25 yards from the goal. Disgusting tackle, I thought. Luckily, Kaw'reh was unharmed by the foul. The Uruguayans made a 7-man wall just inside the penalty area directy in front of the goal. Obaid, Al-Azeezi and Al-Khojali stood over the ball talking amongst themselves as to who would take the free-kick. This would be an ideal time to score, I thought. Spoiler:
    Why do people always say that? Is there ever a bad time to score a goal?!


    Anyway, the referee blew his whistle and Al-Azeezi ran towards the ball but ran over it and continued his run down the left side of the penalty area. Al-Khojali then ran towards the ball, but instad of shooting towards goals he played it into the path of Al-Azeezi catching everyone (including me!) off-guard. As Al-Azeezi crossed the ball into the penalty area, Attal made a late run into the penalty area and powered a header towards goal . . . Spoiler:
    . . .which beat the goalkeeper and nestled into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
    GOAL FOR PALESTINE!!! 2-1 to Palestine!



    As the players made their way to the half-way line and restarted the game, the referee blew the whistle to draw the first half to an end. A great first half I thought. Not only were we winning, We were level, if not better than Uruguay in our performance. Bring on the second half!

    The second half was a total no-show by both teams. It started off in the same way as the first half did but then it got worse. Both teams were passing the ball poorly, losing possession again and again. Late tackles were flying in - luckily the referee was very generous, only booking two players in the game. The only good few minutes of football came on 72 minutes. Diogo ran forward down the right-hand side for Uruguay and beat Al-Hindi with some ease again. He passed it infield for Cavani who hit it first time from 30-yards. Al-Arabi made a save but failed to keep hold of the ball and it fell a few yards away from him. Bishara and Forlan attempted to get to the ball . . . Spoiler:
    . . .Forlan held off Bishara and got to the ball first. Without thinking he just smashed the ball past Al-Arabi into the net.
    GOAL FOR URUGUAY!!! 2-2 and Al-Arabi was probably glad he got out of the way of that blistering strike!



    That was the only action in the second half. The rest of the half flew by without any team creating another decent chance. Only Al-Mubarak and the brilliant Castro had long-range efforts that were comfortably saved. When the referee blew his whistle for full-time, the score was 2-2 - we would be playing extra-time! Spoiler:





    * * *


    The first half of extra-time ended without anything happening. Only Castro had nother half-chance which he pulled wide from the penalty spot following a corner. Attal had a chance to complete his hat-trick but couldn't convert from 18 yards when the ball was played through to him by Al-Mubarak.

    The second half started off slightly better. Forlan received the ball 35 yards from goal, skipped past Kaw'reh and passed the ball through Bishara's legs for Suarez to run onto . . . Spoiler:
    . . . but luckily for us he didn't have his shooting boots on. As he bore down on Al-Arabi, he scuffed a very weak effort wide of the left post.


    Then we created a few chances as the game reached its climax. Al-Mubarak had another header cleared off the line after a corner, Al-Azeezi had a long range effort saved and Attal had another chance to complete his hat-trick - this time the defender Godin managed to block the shot at the last minute.

    The whistle blew for the end of the game and with the score at 2-2 that could only mean one thing . . . penalties!

  3. #28
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    Chapter 9 - Germany 2006

    Part VI Continued






    World Cup Last 16 vs Uruguay
    Tuesday 27th June 2006


    The game had ended 2-2 after 120 minutes of football. Both teams had performed well in patches throughout the game but neither team deserved the win in normal time. Penalties were going to be close!


    Penalties: The referee had flipped the coin and we were going to be taking the first penalty. I don't know which is better in this situation - having the pressure of keeping your team in front by taking the penalty first, or the pressure of having to score to keep your team in the game. Our first penalty-taker was going to be our star striker Al-Mubarak. He had played really well in the game, chasing lost causes and putting the opposition defence under great pressure. He took the ball, walked up to the penalty area and placed the ball on the spot. Then he turned around and walked calmly to the edge of the 'D' and then waited with his hands on hips as Sebastien Viera took an age getting to his line in goal. When the 'keeper was finally ready the referee blew his whistle, Al-Mubarak began his run-up and . . . Spoiler:
    . . . side-footed a low shot into the bottom left corner, sending the 'keeper in the opposite direction. That is as calm and cool a penalty that you will ever see.
    1-0 to Palestine





    Next it was Diego Forlan for Uruguay. He had had a decent game, scoring a superb goal after 25 minutes to put his team ahead. I could see that he was nervous by the way he was walking up to the penalty spot. He fumbled with the ball as he placed it on the spot, Then slowly he turned around and walked about 10 paces back. Al-Arabi awaited in goal. Forlan ran up to the ball . . . Spoiler:
    . . . and blasted it over the bar! His body language was all wrong as he strolled up to take the penalty. He turned away and trudged towards the centre-circle looking at the ground all the way there as the Palestinian fans went wild. That miss by Forlan was an amazing boost to our confidence.
    Uruguay X---- Palestine 0----





    It was our turn again and this time it was the right-back Al-Khojali to take the penalty. He was our set-piece specialist so I was hoping he would give us a 2-0 lead. As the referee blew the whistle he turned and ran towards the ball . . . Spoiler:
    . . . slamming it straight down the centre of the goal. Viera was lucky he dived to the right!
    Uruguay X---- Palestine 00---





    Gonzalo Castro would be taking Uruguay's second penalty and there was great pressure on this guy but it seemed as though he was experienced enough to deal with it. He walked calmly up to the penalty spot, placed the ball down, turned and paced out a short run-up and waited for the referee's whistle. . . Spoiler:
    . . . Castro ran forward as the whistle was blown and passed the ball into the corner of the net. That's how you deal with pressure I thought.
    Uruguay X0--- Palestine 00---





    So, after two penalties each the score was 2-1 to us. Next up was Kaw'reh. I was disappointed in his performance today but I trusted him with this penalty. I hope he doesn't let me down. He ran up to hit the ball . . . Spoiler:
    . . . stopped for a second and made the 'keeper dive to the right before slotting the ball into the open side of the goal! I wasn't too impressed with the fancy stuff but at least we scored. That gave us a two-goal lead.
    Uruguay X0--- Palestine 000---





    Uruguay's star man and MOM Edison Cavani would be taking their third penalty. He ran up . . . Spoiler:
    . . . and hit a right-foot shot into the top left corner of the goal. So Uruguay were still one goal behind after 3 penalties. We were getting to the business end of this game now.
    Uruguay X00-- Palestine 000--





    Our next penalty-taker was the former captain Ammaar who had come on in extra-time. He had a lot of experience on his side so I was hoping for the best. If we were to score this goal Uruguay would have to score theirs. Come on Ammaar. Come on. He put the ball down, took a few steps back and then turned so that he was facing the half-way line! Was he nervous or what? I thought. He hadn't done this in training. This better work. As the referee blew his whistle, Ammaar turned and began his run-up . . . Spoiler:
    . . . he conected with the ball sweetly and hit it low to the 'keeper's left. 4 out of 4! Both 'keepers have been awful today I thought. But that's ok as long as their 'keeper is worse than ours. We're so close now!
    Uruguay X00-- Palestine 0000-





    The man with all of the weight on his shoulders was the short, skinny left-back, Diogo. He had done brilliantly throughtout the game and Al-Azeezi had little luck down the left wing all game with him there. Diogo had to score otherwise Uruguay were out, but more importantly, Palestine would be in the Quarter-finals! Diogo walked up to the penalty area slowly, Al-Arabi stared at him all the way. The ball was on the spot. Al-Arabi was ready. Diogo was ready. Everyone awaited the referee's whistle. The referee put the whistle to his lips and blew. Diogo jogged almost casualy towards the ball, opened up his body and hit the ball with the inside of his right foot . . .
    Spoiler:
    . . .Al-Arabi dived the right way but couldn't get to the ball as it flew wide of the right-hand post! It was wide! He had missed! Al-Arabi got up and ran towards the half-way line. He was mobbed by the players and the coaching staff and me! Palestine have beaten Uruguay on penalties 4-2! We were going to be playing in the Quarter-finals of the World Cup! The Quarter-finals! Palestine! . . .
    Uruguay X00X- Palestine 0000-





    Result: Spoiler:






    Match Stats: Spoiler:





    Manager's thoughts: I have to congratulate my players on this win. They were immense. I think the way they took the penalties was the most amazing thing. We didn't miss a single one! With so much pressure on we managed to come through. Who's next?

    MOM: Spoiler:





    * * *

  4. #29
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    Chapter 9 - Germany 2006

    Part VII





    I was sitting in my hotel room the morning after beating Uruguay on penalties. The morning was warm and the sun was shining brightly through the window and into my room. I still could not believe how well we had done.
    ***Knock! Knock! Knock***
    'Come in!,' I shouted.
    'Good morning Mikaeel,' said Birdy, standing in the doorway. 'Are you ready?'
    'As always, Birdy. Let's go!' It was a habit now - Birdy would come around to my room at about 8:30am and we would go downstairs and have breakfast. The rest of the squad and coaching staff would also be there.

    * * *


    'So, how do feel?' Birdy asked me.
    'I'm fine,' I replied, stuffing some jam-on-toast in my mouth. 'You?'
    'I still can't believe it Mikaeel. This is just a dream for me and all of the Balestinian beoble. And it's all down to you Mikaeel.'
    'Thanks Birdy, but I'm just doing my job,' I replied.
    'No Mikaeel. You don't understand. You're doing a lot more than that,' he said, sipping his black coffee. 'The whole nation is changing Mikaeel. Since you brought success to our country things have been totally different. The youngsters have something else to think about and get emotional about. Normally, the youngsters are involved in some disbute, fight or even worse. I'm sure you know how bad things have been between Israel and Balestine?'
    'Yeah, I know. It's not good,' I replied.
    'Mikaeel, things have become safe because of what you've done. Israel hasn't killed a single Balestinian for months - that a new record! And Hamas and Fath are even getting along nicely now. Somehow you've managed to achieve something sbecial Mikaeel. It seems as though the football has distracted beoble and they've calmed down now. I think you should be given some sort of honour or something. I really do'
    'Yeah, well let's hope it stays that way,' I said.
    'Yeah. I just hobe that Israel acknowledge our achievements in the World Cub. Now they know what it's like when your neighbour is involved in a high-brofile tournament. It's brilliant for us because we just beat the team that beat Israel in the 1970 World Cub! I hobe they don't get envious now!'
    'I'm sure they're ok with it Birdy,'I said. 'Anyway, back to the topic, where are we watching the Argentina Holland game?' We would be playing the winner of this game in the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup.
    'How about in the blayers' suite?' suggested Birdy.
    'Yeah, that sounds ok.'
    'So Mikaeel, who do you want in the next round?' asked Birdy as he sipped the last few drops of his coffee.
    'Both teams are fantastic. Holland have always played attractive, attacking football but Argentina have the history with England. So, I'd have to say Argentina.'
    'I thought so,' said Birdy, getting up from his chair. 'So, I'll see you tonight in the blayers' suite then.'
    'OK,' I said. 'See you then.'

    I hadn't scheduled any training today. I wanted to give the players a day to recharge their batteries before we prepared for the next game - the biggest game of their lives. I had planned a long session for swimming in the pool and then maybe a big lunch before preparing to watch the game tonight.

    * * *


    It was nearly 10 o'clock in the evening and we were sitting in the players' suit. The Argentina Holland game had just finished and I started preparing mentally our approach to the game in a few days time. The game had been largely uneventful. Both teams cancelled each other out and only the defenders had a decent game. It was decided by a penalty in the 78th minute which was converted at the second attempt.
    In the Qurter Final, Palestine would be playing . . . Spoiler:



    'Mikaeel,' said Birdy. If someone had told me 5 years ago that we would be blaying against Argentina in the World Cub Quarter Final I would never ever had believed them. Never in a million years! Yet here we are Mikaeel and I can't wait'

    Neither could I. The game was only three days away. I had been using the same formations that I had dreamed about when we 'won' the World Cup. In my dream, we used a 21412 formation at this stage in the competition. It was a weird formation and my 'dream' formations hadn't let me down yet. Should I use a formation that my players are not used to just because of a dream or should I use my tried and trusted 4231?

    * * *

  5. #30
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    Chapter 9 - Germany 2006

    Part VIII






    World Cup Quarter-final vs Argentina
    Saturday 1st July 2006


    Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach

    Argentina line-up and formation: Spoiler:






    Player we need to watch out for: Spoiler:





    Palestine Team news: In every game leading up to this one I had employed the formation that I had used in my dream. In my dream I used 4123, 4141 and 41311 in the group stage. When I did that in real life I also won. In my dream I used a 41221 against Uruguay in Round 2 and won. When I used the same formation in real life against them I scraped through on penalties. At this point in my dream we playes a weird 21412 against England and won. Why shouldn't I use my 'dream' formation I thought? Then I stopped and thought for a second: I'm going to use a weird, untested formation in a World Cup game? What the hell am I thinking?! There's no way I could realistically play a 21412 against the favourites, Argentina, and get away with it. And that was enough contemplation for me. I would be using my tried and trusted formation. The same one that got us through the qualifying campaign and the one that suited Argentina's attacking style the best - my 4231. In terms of players, I went for my best 11. The only player missing was the long term injury Rabit Al-Harith but his deputies (Kaw'reh and Keshkesh) had done me proud.
    Here's the Palestine line-up and formation: Spoiler:





    The Game: Argentina came out of the blocks flying. They wanted to prove their favourites tags and didn't want to become Palestine's latest casualty. If Argentina were to get beaten by Palestine that would be one of the greatest upsets in modern-day football. Messi and Aguero were passing the ball around brilliant and linking up with intricate one-twos superbly. But, Abusidu and the captain Bishara were on top form tonight. They were cutting out passes and through-balls, and they were getting their heads to the crosses first. My defence and midfield were playing out of their skins, but unfortunately my strikers did not have much joy.
    In the 34th minute of the game Gago went straight through Keshkesh but took the ball cleanly and passed it short to his right to Lucho Gonzalez in the centre circle. He brought the ball forward and forced Hisham Al-Salhi back and back until Al-Salhi brought down Lucho Gonzalez 25 yards out from goal on the right hand side of the penalty area. It was a clumsy tackle and I was not pleased with it. Messi lined up the free-kick whilst my players made a 5-man wall just inside the penalty area. Surely he's not going to shoot from there. The angle's too tight I thought. There was a group of players jostling for space just outside the six-yard area as Messi ran up to the ball. I was right - he didn't shoot. Instead, he played a floated cross to the back where Bishara rose once again with Higuain. This time Higuain seemed to be pushing Bishara and it was him to made contact with the ball . . . Spoiler:
    . . .The ball looped over the outstretched hand of Al-Arabi and into the corner of the net. GOAL FOR ARGENTINA!!! It was 1-0 and that was a sightly lucky goal for the Argentines. It was one that could have gone either way



    Argentina were lifted further by that goal but, worse than that, my players seemed to have been dumbstruck by the goal. Argentina passed the ball around with ease and without any pressure from my players. Then, just 3 minutes after the first goal Argentina put together another great move. The passing was out of this world. Ferrari passed it to Demichells in defence, back to Ferrari, forward to Lucho Gonzalez, centre to Gago, to the left to D'Alessandro, back to Gago, forward to Higuain, left to D'Alessandro, Higuain, Messi, Higuain, Messi, Higuain, a chipped ball through to Aguero! . . . Spoiler:
    . . . who side-footed it past Al-Arabi in goal. GOAL FOR ARGENTINA!!! Stand up and applaud! What an amazing move! That was almost identical to Argentina's goal against Serbia and Montenegro when Cambiasso finished a great move. My players tried to stop the Argentinians but they couldn't even get close. Argentina were now on top and we were at their mercy. I was counting on Bishara and Al-Mubarak to get the troops ready again.



    Fortunately, Argentina took their foot off the pedal after that goal but you could sense that they could turn it on again whenever they wanted to, or needed to. We were lucky and breathing a sigh of relief to be going in only 2-0 down at half-time. My players had played well for 42 minutes of that half but we didn't create a single chance. That would have to change in the second half if we were going to progress in this World Cup.

    Half Time: Argentina 2-0 Palestine. Goalscorers: Higuain (34), Aguero (37)

    * * *

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    Chapter 9 - Germany 2006

    Part VIII Continued







    World Cup Quarter-final vs Argentina
    Saturday 1st July 2006


    Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach

    Half Time: Argentina 2-0 Palestine.
    Goalscorers: Higuain (34), Aguero (37)



    Second Half: I sent the team out without making any changes. I just told them to believe in themselves and give it their best shot. We needed an early goal if we were going to have any chance of getting back into this.

    My players started the second half on fire! Al-Azeezi was running up and down the right flank like there was no tomorrow. D'Alessandro and Rodriguez couldn't contain him no matter what they tried. He created our first chance of the game when he driblled past D'Alessandro and crossed the ball in from near the corner flag to the back post. Al-Mubarak got in front of his marker and headed the ball hard and low towards the corner . . . Spoiler:
    . . . but Oscar Ustari got down to it and pushed it around the post! So close!


    Al-Azeezi took the resulting corner and swung in a fierce cross to the edge of the penalty area where Khojali was waiting . . . Spoiler:
    . . . he connected with it on the volley and the ball was going towards the top left-hand corner! But we were denied again by the outstretched hand of Ustari! Damn it!


    My players kept pushing and I was confident that the breakthrough would come eventually. Argentina was just trying to survive at this moment! Then, in the 53rd minute, Al-Khojali brought the ball forward from defence up to the half-way line. Then he played a long-ball forward to the inside-right position. Al-Azeezi was running after it with Garay in hot pursuit and the keeper was coming out for it as well! All three players were running and they were going to come together on the edge of the 'D'. . . Spoiler:
    . . . Al-Azeezi got his head to the ball just ahead of Garay and the keeper Ustari and sent it goalbound. Garay and Ustari collided with Al-Azeezi and they landed on a heap on the floor. The ball was still rolling and just managed to creap over the line! GOAL FOR PALESTINE!!! We were back in the game! But there was a problem - Al-Azeezi was still on the floor injured. The celebrations were controlled and short as the players gathered around Al-Azeezi. They were celebrating by tapping him on his shoulder and shaking his hand but Al-Azeezi could do no more than just lie in pain clutching his left leg. The medics and physios were around him and slowly lifted him and put him on the stretcher. He was carried off - a true injurd hero! I replaced our best player with Al-Fawaghra. We had pulled a goal back but we were missing our best player now.


    Argentina are a world class team and they showed that after we scored our goal. Higuain started pulling the strings again and Messi and Aguero started making darting runs through our defence. They were all over us again. Unfortunately, the injury took the fight out of my players and we were helpless to the sea of blue coming at us from every angle. Argentina were creating chance after chance and I was fearful that it was only a matter of time before this game was killed of and our World Cup campaign was over. But, if we could somehow put together another five-minute spell we could get that all-important equaliser.
    Then, with 87 minutes on the clock, the crucial goal was scored . . .

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    Chapter 9 - Germany 2006

    Part VIII Continued Still







    World Cup Quarter-final vs Argentina
    Saturday 1st July 2006


    Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach

    It's 2-1 to Argentina and we're in the 87th minutes of the game

    The Game: Argentina have the ball in the centre circle with Higuain. He plays it out to the left hand side where Rodrigues is making a run forward. Rodriguez controls the ball but is immediately closed down by Al-Khojali who forces him to play it back to the half-way line. Argentina come forward again, this time down the right-hand flank with Messi. Bannon forces Messi to go into the corner of the pitch. Messi then back-heels the ball through the legs of Bannon and runs around him. He is free on the right-hand side! He looks for options in the box and sends in a low cross to the front post. Aguero gets in front of Bishara and heads the ball . . . Spoiler:
    . . . only to see his shot saved by Al-Arabi.


    The ball comes back out to the left hand side where Rodriguez picks it up and whips in a looping cross towards the back post. Messi is there . . . Spoiler:
    . . . he controls it on his chest and as the ball touches the ground he hits a fierce right-foot half-volley past Al-Arabi and into the back of the net. GOAL FOR ARGENTINA!!! It was now 3-1 with just a few minutes to go.



    My players had no answer to Argentina's third goal and the game just slowly died out. The referee stopped the game just 1 minute into the 3 that were allotted for injury time and brought down the curtains on Palestine's first ever World Cup Campaign.

    Result: Spoiler:





    Match Stats: Spoiler:





    MOM: Spoiler:




    Manager's thoughts: Well that was that. My players had played superbly in this game and throughout the entire tournament. In the end the better teams were always going to be able to beat us and that's what happened. The players stayed on the pitch for nearly half an hour after the game applauding the Palestinian supporters and vice versa. This was the greatest stage that any of these players have ever played and will ever play so it was understandable that they were making the most of it.
    I also had to think about my future now. Was there any more I could achieve with Palestine? Was it time to move on? I think these were questions that could wait - we would be celebrating our achievements first!

    * * *

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    Chapter 10 - The Dream is Over
    Part I






    Sunday 9th July 2006


    After the heroics of the World Cup we stayed in Monchengladbach for another week. My players were trying to come back to Earth from their trip to cloud 9. I'm hoping that the Palestinian people will give them the praise and welcome-home that they deserve and that they have earned. Unfortunately, tensions have risen again in Palestine after a recent Israeli air raid in which 24 Palestinian civilians died - 9 from one family. I suppose that was another reason for staying out here a few extra days.

    A few days before the World Cup the PFA told me that they would be happy even if we had gone out without a point - just as long as we didn't humiliate ourselves. I don't think they could have ever envisaged reaching the Quarter-Finals and then getting knocked out by the winners. Spoiler:



    I don't think things could have gone any better for us in all honesty.

    'Hi Mikaeel,' said the familiar voice of Birdy.
    'Hi Birdy!' I replied. 'Thanks for all those things that you said the other day. They meant a lot to me.'
    'No broblem. I meant every word,' he replied. 'Argentina won the World Cub! That means we could have won it if we had beaten them.'
    'Hmmm, it's not that simple Birdy. Football is too unpredictable and that's why we all love it. I mean, who would have given us a chance against Morocco, Russia and Uruguay? Even against China, Saudi Arabia and Norway?'
    'Not me,' laughed Birdy.
    'Exactly. If things were as simple as that, we would have been lucky to make it to the second qualifying phase.' I said. 'I've been in management for decades. If football was as simple as you think, I would have stopped years ago!'

    And with that I realised that it was time for me to take a break from the game. How much longer could I go on managing for? How much more could I achieve with anyone? I'm certain there would be offers on the table but I had won every competition in England and now I had achieved something amazing with a real minnow of world football. I think it's time to go back home and spend some quality time with my family and friends. But I think I'll return to Palestine with the team first and enjoy the praise and welcome that we receive before saying anything about this to the board or even to Birdy.


    * * *


    I've spent 5 years with the Palestine Football Team and I'd like to mention a thing or two about the players I've worked with in that period.

    Firstly I have to pay tribute and my respects to the three promising youngsters killed in Israeli bombing at the very beginning of my time in charge of Palestine. They were:

    17-year-old Goalkeeper, Mustafa Al-Owairan Spoiler:





    17-year-old Defensive Midfielder, Zaid Al-Mujahidi Spoiler:





    and 16-year-old Forward, Musa Al-Bashir Spoiler:





    Would we have done better if these three superstars were available? Who knows. But I'm sure we would have gone into games with a lot more confidence and more options all around the field.

    With regards to the players who actually played for me:
    Goalkeepers
    For the entire 5 years in charge of Palestine Khalil Al-Naasir and Ahmed Al-Arabi were in every single squad selection. They had to be as they were the only two goalkeepers I had. Al-Naasir was my first choice goalkeeper all the way until the World Cup. But then I used Al-Arabi during the World Cup as he improved immensely leading up to the tournament. In the end Al-Arabi proved his worth by getting an average rating of nearly 8 throughout the 5 games in the tournament.

    Defender
    One name jumps out - Roberto Bishara. Spoiler:



    The Chilean born youngster was 21 when I took over the club and he stayed an ever-present in the squad. His work rate and stamina were always something to be desired and he had an influence over the entire team despite his young age. That's why he was captain on many occasions.

    The other player I have to mention here is the equally ever-present full-back, Mohammed Bannon Spoiler:



    He contributed with some goals and assissts and had an average rating of just under 8 for the 5 years.


    Defensive Midfielders
    Again, I was limited in my choice for players in this position. Only three Palestinians were recognised DMCs and amongst them Rabit Al-Harith was easily the best - it was a shame that he got injured just before the World Cup and had to miss out. Ma'ly Kawreh battled superbly throughout the 5 years with an average rating of 7.6 Spoiler:



    Keshkesh also contributed to the team's success in the absence of Al-Harith.


    Wingers
    My star men on the flanks were Hisham Al-Salhi and Tariq Al-Azeezi Spoiler:




    Although Al-Amour was used more than Al-Salhi in the World Cup, It was Al-Salhi's heroics during the entire qualification campaign that delighted me.

    Attackers
    Only one name here - Muhammad Al-Mubarak Spoiler:



    He scored a national record of 8 goals and an average rating of 8.6 in a calender year during 2006 and it was his goals against Norway that ensured our passage into the World Cup. I also have to give a mention to Edib Kurtovic who was our super-sub on more than one occasion and he filled in for Al-Mubarak superbly when called upon.

    The player who brought the midfield and Al-Mubarak together was Fahed Attal Spoiler:



    During the 5 years he contributed with 10 goals and some assists with an average rating of nearly 8.5.

    Obviously, I couldn't have achieved what I did without the help of other players as well but these were just some of the players whos achievements I felt I needed to highlight.

    * * *

    The World Cup is over and Germany is starting to empty of fans from around the world. It's also time for me and my team to return back to Palestine tomorrow - hopefully as heroes.

  9. #34
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    Chapter 11 - A Hero's Welcome






    Tuesday 11th July 2006

    We arrived in our hotel in Bethlehem, Palestine last night and the PFA had arranged an open-top bus parade through thousands of Palestine fans who were expected to line the streets. This was despite some security concerns following recent rioting in the nearby cities. The PFA board members know of my intentions to quit and I will be flying back home to England on the weekend.
    The morning was bright and warm and I could sense that today was going to be a special day. I had had 5 great years here in Palestine and the fans were already showing their appreciation through e-mails, forums and radio show phone-ins. I was becoming a hero for the people of Palestine - especially during this difficult period of conflict and death with the Israeli forces.

    Our bus arrived outside the hotel at 11:30am. It was a double-decker bus with an open roof painted in the colours of the Palestinian flag on all sides. There were already hundreds of fans surrounding the bus and lining the road leading out of the hotel towards the city centre. They were waving their flags and chanting congratulations to the players and me. The players made their way onto the bus whilst I stood outside with the members of the PFA discussing a few things. I was told that the bus route involved going through the city centre and circling the main square twice before returning to the hotel on the outskirts of the city centre.
    'Sounds nice,' I said.
    'Yes. We had to do the best,' said a short chubby board member whose name I have yet to be able to pronounce. 'You deserve it, Mikaeel. So do your blayers'
    'Thanks,' I replied, getting onto the bus along with the rest of the squad, coaching staff and PFA board members. 'Let's get this show on the road.'

    The bus slowly moved off from in front of the hotel - we had a police escort of 4 motorcycles and 6 police cars moving in front and behind us. I hope we stay safe today.

    * * *

    35 minutes later the bus reached the main square in Bethlehem town centre. There must have been at least a million people on the streets! It was just a sea of green, red, black and white. Luckily there were also thouands of police officers and guards on duty making sure that the crowd behaved. People were singing songs, screaming 'I love you' and 'Thank You' and 'Congratulations' - mostly in Arabic of course. These are the days that I really, really look forward to. They are every manager's dream.

    As the bus started to circle the main square for the last time before heading back to the hotel, I saw some commotion amongst the crowds ahead of our bus. Then, suddenly, people began screaming and running like crazy in all directions! What the hell is going on? Then, I saw what all the fuss was about - there were about 30 armed men standing amongst the crowd only 200 feet away from us. In an instance I forgot the euphoria I was experiencing just seconds before.
    They were definitely not the Palestinian Security Forces as altogether they slowly pointed their AK47s in the direction of our bus and started running towards us!
    'SH1T. EVERYONE DOWN' screamed someone on the bus. Then the firing began. It was a constant drumming of hundreds and hundreds of bullets against the metal bus.

    BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! The sound was deafening but now the Palestinian Forces were shooting back as well but that just seemed to anger the attackers even more.
    BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! There was the sound of glass shattering and everyone on the bus was screaming. The bullets were now piercing the bus!
    'Aaaaggh!' screamed someone. I couldn't make out who it was but it was definitely one of my players.
    'Aaaaggh!' damn it. Another one. Someone had to do something and quick.
    'SOMEONE STOP THEM,' I screamed. But it was no use. The Palestinian Forces were doing their best but the gunmen were too numerous and showing no sign of stopping.
    I could see the blood on the floor of the bus and shattered glass all over the seats.
    I could see the fear in the eyes of my players and staff around me as they all huddled up on the floor and made themselves as small as possible.


    BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! More bullets were fired. They had been shooting for what seemed like 5 minutes now. When are they going to stop?

    'EVERYONE STAY DOWN!, I screamed as my entire life was beginning to flash before my eyes. 'Cover your head and. . .'

    BANG! . . .

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    The Palestinian Predicament





    THE END

  13. #38
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    Thank you everyone!

    Thanks AK, Jesus, Darren Reddin, info0, m0ri, Jed, Rossinho, AMC, astonio, Ian MacNab, churky, Le Frog, Cafcgreen, tyepye, CMAdventurer, henke88, CtrlAltDel, Realism Regime, Kaizeler, Toon, erkifino, Mark, Bofski, Brian, ZanSnake, kowalinho, Cmela, Crap Sane, AJ, liamh46, ybb svs, Pepsthecat, marciano and MonkeytheChicken (and everyone else that read this story but didn't comment)

    I really appreciate you guys reading my first attempt at a story and the enjoyment was increased for me thanks to regular comments and feedback from you guys. I don't think the story would have been half as good without you guys contributing. I actually changed a few things within the story after reading comments from you guys so you did have an effect on the storyline.

    I'm glad I chose to do a story about Palestine - there was hardly anything that I needed to make up! Some parts of the story actually wrote themselves.

    I think my best part of the story was the dream World Cup. I'm still a bit surprised as I didn't think people would have fallen for it. It almost lead to a Jesus v Jed brawl . One other thing to mention about that 'fake' WC was the fact that I didn't take Scotland to the final - they actually got there themselves after beating Brazil and Argentina along the way!

    As for another story, I don't have anything planned in the near future so don't hold your breath for another Red9 story just yet! I am currently playing a save game with all leagues selected - you can follow my progress in the 'How are you doing?' thread.

    Le Frog - no problem, and I definitely think you should write your own story.

    pirovatis, I am NOT Mr Riddle - I think I was already a member when he was on these forums.

    Once again, thanks everyone!

  14. #39
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    Comments on the story

    Quote Originally Posted by CMAdventurer View Post
    Red, you have a wonderful style of writing and it's a joy to read! Keep it up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Reddin View Post
    Amazing...
    Quote Originally Posted by CMAdventurer View Post
    This story should be in the Hall of Fame.
    Quote Originally Posted by CtrlAltDel View Post
    Superb ending Red

    HoF beckons!
    Quote Originally Posted by AK16 View Post
    I love you Red

    Sad ending but superb read

    When are you thinking of creating another one?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Well, it is as most of us thought. A sad ending but a great story overall.

    Well done, Red9

    Moving this to the Hall of Fame now. Your story is only the 3rd one to be completed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus View Post
    Well Red what can I say? You provided us with happiness, excitement, sadness and hope and you ended it superbly. One of the best stories I've read in all my time here on the forums and I appreciate the effort you took to keep us all hooked.

    Well done
    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    What a talent you have there Red! The rest of us should just retire from story making right now as you have put so many of us including myself to shame! And the Mini Brawl between myself and Jesus was rather funny!

    Congrats Again dude and a fully deserved HOF Entry!
    Quote Originally Posted by LeeBishop82 View Post
    Great story Red. Just read it from start to finish...top stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by henke88 View Post
    Red
    Quote Originally Posted by Cafcjgreen View Post
    Red i have just finished reading this story and all i can say is WOW one of best stories ever deserves its HOF place

    R.I.P Michael Champman
    Quote Originally Posted by phetrov View Post
    WOW! Just read this today and it was amazing. You bring a new meaning to story writing. When i seen Scotland in the final i said f**k off but still went with it, that was genious stuff. R.I.P to Michael Champman and the Palestine boys who died!
    Quote Originally Posted by erdincizer View Post
    R.I.P. Michael Champman from Turkey man, you were Legend. Fantastic story..
    Quote Originally Posted by grianaig View Post
    Just managed to catch up with this great tale.
    Very deserving of its place here in the Hall of Fame.

    Plus it had one of the most successful fishing trips I've seen included in it.
    Quote Originally Posted by redknapp69 View Post
    awesome story Red9!

    Appreciate the time effort it took!
    Quote Originally Posted by Jussie View Post
    Just read this story, and it's the first one i've ever read completely. Very Good stuff Red9! Enjoyed it very much, and the whole dream WC thing was class.
    Quote Originally Posted by rjvthemighty View Post
    just spent two hours reading this the whole way through... possibly the best two hours of my cm (and maybe real - or is that a bit too sad? ) life. You should maybe re run it with the 3 young gems and see how they do although im guessing that would be a bit too long. I just hope nobody heard me laughing or wooping at the story. Because i actually did.
    Quote Originally Posted by ryancostello123 View Post
    I swear I come back to the site every couple of months just to read this story, so well written!

  15. #40
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    Love this story, first one i read on here

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    http://www.football365.com/f365-says...ough-Adversity

    Read this article today and I couldn't help but remember this story.
    Spoiler!


    Great story again Red9

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    when is the movie coming?

  18. #43
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    Thanks for the bump Erk, not sure I would have read this story otherwise. A superb effort from Red9!

    Must check out the HOF for other stories I've not come across.
    Discover more about members of the Champman0102 community, as they answer:
    Twenty Questions!

  19. The Following User Says Thank You to BobMem For This Useful Post:


  20. #44
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    i remember the reaction of the 'dream' so vivdly

    sneaky bastard !

    Brilliant story

  21. #45
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    Just read this story. Excellent. Really enjoyed it.

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