Football, When Love and Hate Collide
August 21, 2012


In the excitement of the new season, I’ve almost forgotten the painful, darker side of the league. Yes we all love the drama, surprises, chills and thrills of the games but if your team is in the midst of a non-stop counter-attack exchange with 10 minutes to go, it’s not as fun. Suffice to say, smoking aside, watching football is the new main cause of hypertension. Sometimes I wish I’m just a neutral.

Manchester City picked up where they left off last season. Playing newcomers Southampton at home on opening day looked straightforward enough on paper. Nevertheless, it’s City we’re talking about here. When they won the First Division in 1937, they got relegated the following season.

The lineup looked convincing and if the first few minutes were anything to go by, the boys in blue were on the right track. Carlos Tevez looked like a renewed man who’s been on a strict protein shake diet. And after only 16 minutes into the game, his tireless effort paid off after winning a penalty at the edge of the box. It felt weird watching David Silva readying up the ball to take the kick. His deflected soft shot explained why. Penalties are beyond Merlin’s scope of spells.

Following a steady stream of insane through passes you’d only see on Winning Eleven, Tevez slotted the ball in after a brilliant lob into the penalty box by Samir Nasri. City was one-up into at the break, and it looked like business as usual. Which at the Etihad means that the second half will be an emotional rollercoaster.

Albeit City trying to slow down the pace with the lead, the Saints were adamant and their spirited performance earned them a well-constructed goal by Rickie Lambert in the 59th minute. The equalizer unsettled City and 10 minutes later, Steven Davis brought the score to 2 - 1 Southampton.

May 13, anyone? "Not again." was all I could utter.

An unrelenting bombardment of attacks toward the Southampton penalty box follows. Edin Dzeko banged the ball in after a mess in the box in the 72nd minute. And as the clock hit 80, Nasri fires the ball in and wished the whole world "Eid Mubarak". The yellow card was totally worth it.

Three points in the bag and what a curtain raiser it was. Credit to Southampton for never giving up and putting up a good fight. They played like a solid contender to stay in the league and if the team spirit doesn’t fade away as the season progresses, they certainly will.

Is City the new comeback kings? It’s too early to tell. And unlike Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, we don’t have Mancini Time, yet.


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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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