Squandering three prime scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of a match - then conceding against the run of play - can send a talented team into a foul mood; the resilient squads find a way to recover, while the others self-destruct.
Buffalo United Soccer Stars (BUSS) scuffed and scowled through the first 50 minutes of their Tehel Cup quarterfinal against Buffalo Bantu FC, but their pace and persistence finally paid dividends in a 4-2 win Friday at D'Youville College.
Abdi Sabtow and Mo Hussein evenly split the four goals, with veteran midfielder Ian Martin supplying three assists. Zein Abdulaziz and Adan Mukumbira tallied for Bantu, which pulled off a memorable upset in the previous round by knocking out the Amherst Sharpshooters.
BUSS advance to the semifinals to face FC Yemen, tentatively slated for 6:30 p.m. July 27, with Yemen Elite and Cinderella Pendleton United, a first division team, clashing in the other semi on the same day. The Tehel Cup Final is slated for 8:30 p.m. Aug. 3 at Sweet Home High School.
THE GOALS & INSIGHT
1-0, Buffalo Bantu, 38': Against the run of play, a long ball from Buffalo Bantu FC midfielder Abdulaziz Abdulaziz found Zein Abdulaziz in behind the BUSS defense. The striker deftly lobbed the bouncing ball over the approaching BUSS goalkeeper, Drew Colosimo, into a wide-open net.
1-1, 53': After an entire half of frustration, BUSS finally equalized behind the individual brilliance of Abdi Sabtow, a Medaille College attacker. The former Riverside High School standout cut sharply with the outside of his foot to lose a defender, then combined with Mo Hussein on a one-two to spring him alone on goal. The finish was the easiest part for Sabtow, who picked out the lower right corner.
2-1, BUSS, 68': The orange-clad side continued their second-half surge when Martin slipped past a defender with a Cruyff turn in midfield, then picked his head up to find Sabtow lurking 10 yards ahead. Sabtow received the ball and turned in the same motion, then accelerated past two defenders before smashing past Bantu fill-in keeper Omar Sundi.
3-1, BUSS, 70': Just two minutes later, Bantu's Abdulaziz Abdulaziz was caught arguing with the center official in the midfield, and BUSS' quick restart created an odd-man rush. Martin controlled the ball on the right side, then slipped in Hussein, who sliced inside to his left foot and popped a shot over Sundi's head from 12 yards out.
"I feel like the gaps were there and we found them, we just weren't completing our chances," Hussein said, referring to the wastefulness of the first half. "Once we got our first goal, our offense came back. I feel like we penetrated and converted."
4-1, BUSS, 75': The floodgates opened further when Martin's flick over the exhausted Bantu defense found the stride of Hussein, who cruised in alone on goal and calmly planted the ball in the left side-netting. Both Hussein and Sabtow were quick to praise Martin, who left the match early for a previous obligation (or else we would have interviewed him).
"Man, he enjoys it - as long as you have love for the game, love and passion, you can play at any level," Hussein gushed. "Ian shows us that it's possible to play at age 47 in premier. I love this game and want to play as long as I can, and Ian reminds us that we can play on forever as long as we never lose our love for the game."
"I feel like he's playing how he used to play at a younger age - he has stamina, he has energy, he's nonstop - he'd lose the ball but then would be the first one to get it back," added Sabtow.
4-2, BUSS, 79': Bantu cut into the margin on pretty set-piece execution. Rick Sweeney's corner kick curled into a dangerous area in the box, meeting the head of Adan Mukumbira and giving Colosimo too little time to react.
The match ended a few minutes early due to a melee sparked by Bantu's second goal scorer, Mukumbira, who got in the face of several BUSS players, particularly midfield maestro Mohamed Musse.
"Seeing how Bantu play and how we play, and we just needed to play our own style and not to their level, and that's what we did when we started scoring," summarized Sabtow, whose BUSS squad sits in second place in BDSL's premier division. "We can play better ball, we were just playing to their level."
RECOVERING FROM PANIC: Hussein explained how the early misfortune affected BUSS' offensive attack.
"Once our team gets frustrated we tend to go over the top too many times, and we try to say to the guys to find us to feet. We have the skill to turn and use those one-twos and get those guys one-on-one and finish our chances.
"Once we find feet, there's no team that can stop us - that's when we're at our best. As long as we remain calm and composed, I feel like we can beat any team. It's a great year for us, it's a lot of fun."
BANTU STANDOUTS: While Zein Abdulaziz and Mukumbira scored for Bantu, three of their defensive players deserve praise for their efforts in stymieing the BUSS attack - at least temporarily. Center back Peter Schmidt cut out nearly a dozen opportunities, while left fullback Mohamed Abdulaziz's two last-ditch tackles prevented two goals in the first half.
Sundi, who stepped in goal for Bantu's injured starting goalkeeper, was fearless in coming off his line in the first half, thwarting high-percentage chances from Hussein and Hunter Sherman.
BUSS: Drew Colosimo; Prince Saysay, Polo Suazo, Josh Hammer, Bobby Calvaneso; Mo Hussein, Mohamed Musse, Yony Guardado, Abdi Sabtow; Hunter Walsh, Hunter Sherman. Subs used: Ian Martin, Junior Geegba, Anthony Saysay.
BANTU: Omar Sundi; Mohamed Abdulaziz, Mohamud Abdulaziz, Peter Schmidt, Aweso Noor; George Yapa, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, Rick Sweeney, Mohamed Ibrahim, Adan Mukumbira; Zein Abdulaziz. Subs used: Sam Baafi, Hamed Alhumaikani, Yakub Mohamed.