In an unfortunate circumstance of a horrible collusion involving a rough Albanian striker deliberately bumping his bum against our goalkeeper Gergish Debesay in the 1st half resulted in cracking his ribs at 0-0, ended up with Eri-Stars losing its 2nd group match 3-1 against a very good Albania side.
Following the injury to former national team goal-keeper Gergish, Albania showed upper hand leading 1-0 after Gergish saved a penalty earlier before Eri-Stsrs bounced back to equalise 1-1. However Eri-Stars later succumbed to two last minute goals losing 3-1 while Guinea Bissau beat Bangladesh 1-0. Bangladesh had already beaten Albania 2-0 in the first game and after all teams in the Group-A (“group of death”) had played two games each, they all ended up with 3 points but courtesy of its superior goal defference, Eri-Stars still managed to top the group at that point with all teams a game in hand as shown in the table below.
The group qualification had to go to the wire with Albania tightly beating Guinea Bissau 2-1 and confirming their qualification and unfortunately with our left back Yonas having to improvise as goal keeper, Eristars lost 4-1 to the local Bangladeshi side in East London. The loss was a result of both Gergish’s absence and some comical defensive errors gifting Bangladesh to bang in 4 goals to beat Eri-Stars 4-1.
Yet with two losses and only one win by a margin of 4-1 against fellow African side and pre-tournament group favourite Guinea Bissau, saw Eri-Stars managing to scrap through by the skin of its teeth as one of the best-3rd placed teams for the KO (Knock-Out) stages.
Following the completion of the group matches, Eri-Stars coincidentally got drawn against Bangladesh again in the first of the last-16 knock-out match but Eri-Stars have got to sort out their goalkeeper problems before its last-16 KO match tomorrow kick-off time 10:15AM as it means that it would also mean losing their versatile overlapping left back and captain Yonas, who will have to improvise as a goalkeeper again.
In such an intense three group matches played one after another, thanks God Eri-Stars have gotten away with a relatively milder injury as compared to seeing a horrific injury to a poor Qatari goalkeeper in group-B breaking his leg and taken to the hospital. Apart from avoiding injuries, what Eri-Stars need to worry about, as much, is the cascade of unforced defensive errors and easily losing possessions in the midfield in the last two group matches often resulting in effortlessly gifting the opposition sides goals on a silver platter.
Coach Brooke’s made it clear to his players to avoid making mistakes after another another one, saying, “make the opposition work for their goals & not us working our way at the back & easily losing possessions in the midfield to end up gifting them goals”.
C’mON!!!, the focus button need to remain Switch “ON” till last minute.
In the meantime, credit to the fans who came from far and weathered the naughty English rain and particularly the young West London mums, who colonising a spot in East London with their colourful tents and serving delicious lunch, snacks and drinks all day to everyone. “We appreciate and love you” was captain Yonas’ humble message to the mums. As one of the main pillars of this team, the continuous support to the mums, rain or shine, have been so immense and indispensable indeed.
As Eri-Stars look forward to a second bite on the cherry against the 2001 inner-city World Cup champions Bangladeshi side, EritreaCompass wishes Eri-Stars Best of luck in the KO today.
Kick off 10:15AM