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Wednesday, 18 February 2015 20:05

San Lorenzo Push for Promotion

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“A football giant has awoken.” said the old man, his face unable to contain the excitement after witnessing his team steam-roll Oz's team of Lyonaisse slags. “We have God on our side, and maybe more importantly than that, we have a coach in thekokopop who wants to lead us back to where we belong.” The words of Pope Francis resonate with his love for San Lorenzo, and his belief that the new man in charge can propel the club to the heights of the Xbox premier division.

But it didn't start well for the new boss. Arriving mid-season San Lorenzo played their first league game without having any friendlies, and were dismantled 5-2 by Stade Brestois. The following morning the rebuilding began, the coach wanting the spine of the team to be experienced. In came Big John O' Shea, who has so many premier league medals in his pockets his pants were falling down. Mikel Arteta and Richarlyson arrived to control the midfield, and PES legend Oscar Cardozo to lead the line. With the base created, koko added more players that he hoped would provide the spark the team lacked in his first game in charge. In the wide positions Obertan and Berghuis offer pace and technical skills, with Obraniak playing the “Classic No. 10” role. Angel Rangel added real experience on the right side of defence. Also Obasi was bought to be the super-sub. These players were added to his inherited players, Vermeer a quality keeper, Bottheghin a man mountain in the centre of defence, the pace of Sarpong and Will Buckley, and the team, he felt, was ready to compete.

First up was another trip to France, with JJ4C's Bordeaux the opponent. The team seemed to click immediately, with Obertan getting a goal on his debut and Cardozo causing mayhem in the final third. Koko commented after the game “This is what we're aiming to do in every game, we want to play attacking football and remain tight at the back. I believe with the players we've brought in we have a good chance at being promoted this season.” Asked about Cardozo not scoring on his debut he added “His overall game was very impressive, the OG came from his header crashing against the bar,and the keeper made a fantastic save to deny him. Goals will come with this guy, believe me.”

Next was a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu for a tough game against Miky. A tight first half saw old Arsenal boys Gervinho and Podolski going close for the hosts. After a good save from Vermeer San Lorenzo went up the other end and the alien with the body of a human Obertan scored his second in two games. After the break San Lorenzo grabbed two in quick succession, with Cardozo breaking his duck. Linssen scored the third, but it was to be his only goal for the club as he was shipped out shortly after the game for refusing to share his post-match spliff with the manager. Sarpong who wrapped up the scoring said after the game “The squad are feeling more confident with each passing day, the gaffer has given us confidence, and he even gives us these pink candy pills before every match to help us focus.”

Following on from the famous victory in the Spanish Capital the Argentinians were on the road again, this time it was a trip to Greece for a meeting with Leonidas' Olympiacos. Technical problems disrupted what was a very good match-up. In the end it was the power and class of Cardozo that was the difference, with the big Paraguayan bagging a brace. Speaking after the game Goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer heaped praise not only on the match-winner, but the efforts of the whole team “After the opening game disaster we've worked tirelessly on the shape of the team. I think we're seeing the benefit of that now, defensively we've layed the platform for our attack to go and win the game. If you don't concede and you've got a talented goalscorer like Big Oscar, you give yourself every chance of three points on a regular basis.”

San Lorenzo didn't have as far to travel for the next fixture, with a trip to Brazil on the cards. Santos, managed by scarycaravan would provide tough opposition, and the travelling support arrived into a hostile atmosphere. Koko explained before the game these were the games his experienced team had been assembled for “This is a tough place to come, but the players know how to handle the situation, they'll play the game and not the occasion.” And his words proved correct, Cardozo having been taken down in the box dispatched the resulting penalty to open the scoring early. Richarlyson scoring and putting on a man-of-the-match performance on his return to his home country. New signing and super-sub Obasi grabbed the third on his debut, with yet another clean sheet kept by Vermeer and company.

And finally it came, San Lorenzo's first home game of the season, El Nuevo Gasometro were to see the new squad at last. Excitement had been building all week, with the pope arriving as special guest of the Ultras. The excitement was real, but at the same time a sense of fear could be felt in the air. Lyon would bring a squad of the slaggiest order, Lukaku and Lacazette would have the pace and power to hurt O' Shea and Botteghin, Thauvin and Shaquiri posed problems on the flanks, and Dede, Veratti and Lucas would prove difficult from a San Lorenzo attacking point. The atmosphere was electric come kick-off and the home fans weren't disappointed. The home side took the lead with a lightening quick counter attack. Vermeer saved a one-on-one and immediately set the attack going, with Obertan threading a ball through to Berghuis to slot home low in the corner. Berghuis replied the favour shortly afterwards looping a ball into the box for the alien Obertan to nod home. Second half super-sub Obasi set up Cardozo to blast one top corner, with the Nigerian finishing the scoring late on.

This was the game the home fans had been waiting for, a clinical display. The team have been adapted to fit the ideas of the coach, tight defensively and unleashing quick counter attacks, never afraid to have a go. Although it's early in the season and there's many more difficult challenges to be faced they feel the team is on an upward curve again. The squad and management are confident, and with the fans behind them they believe promotion is possible this year. Whether that turns out to be the case, only time will tell.

Read 1346 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 February 2015 17:57