The fans in South Gwinnett Stadium witnessed an astonishing nine goals classic as the pandemic curve flattens. FC Matata came up trumps against Seas Jamaica FC to catapult them to second with a thrilling and entertaining 5-4 victory. In an exciting first half, Jaden Khamis gave FC Matata the lead with a sweet strike from 15 yards out in the 12th minute, 4 minutes later Sahlu Haftom doubled the lead after slotting home after a mishap in defense.
Seas Jamaica FC hit back with four goals in twenty minutes. First, Santiago Mosquera well taken first time strike cut the deficit in half in the 18th minute, Akeem Francis made no mistake from 12 yards out to restore parity in the 25th minute, Mikyle Williams converted from the spot after David Magala had unintentionally clipped him to give Seas Jamaica the lead 5 minutes later. Carlos Servellon low effort found the bottom right corner from 20 yards to make it 4-2 heading in the half time interval.
The drama did not stop in the second half as Matata’s Haftom made it 4-3 from a tight angle in minute 56 and Khamis got his second to level the scores from close range in the 59th minute. It seemed as if the visitors would end their three-match winless run in the league, but then up popped midfield maestro Jerry Desdunes with a clincher from the spot in the 85th minute, as the ground erupted at the full-time whistle.
Regarding entertainment value, this match gets top marks. But look past the scoreline and it was a game that featured truly atrocious defending. A defensive calamity that saw Tambadu Alhaji being taken off two minutes before the first half break, a decision that sent shock waves through the curious spectators. Tambadu, a Southern University senior, was having a horrific game in the defense which was coupled with poor communication and often times got caught out of position. This aggravated the coach who made an unorthodox change late in the first half.
Live wire Matata forward, Lionel Touroude, is still out of first team action with an injury he picked up in a recent game and reportedly will be out for an undetermined amount of time. This gave Khamis the opportunity to shine, which he did. The tricky winger had a subpar performance in last weekend’s match in an away fixture. The coach explained in the build-up to the match against Seas Jamaica that Khamis had a future at the club but suggested he lacked confidence. His two goals one in either half is and indication that he is really one for the future.
Seas Jamaica got off slowly and were pegged back early in the first half. The onslaught started in the 12th minute when Khamis played a neat give and go with Desdunes with Khamis collecting the return pass opening his body to slot home for a 1-0 lead. Before the jubilant spectators calmed down, it was 2-0 to the home team courtesy of Haftom who was surprised to find the ball back at his feet to stroke home following his header towards goal
After finishing second last season Seas Jamaica is yet to find a win after three games on the trot and was staring down the barrel of another defeat. They suddenly sprung to life in the 18th minute when Santiago Mosquera caressed home a miscued ball from a corner kick. It was all square in the 25th minute when the skillful Williams slip through a deft pass to Francis who finished effortlessly in an empty net after side stepping the goalkeeper.
Matata was now shell-shocked and Seas Jamaica’s had the wind at their back. Seas went ahead from the penalty spot in the 30th by Williams who was brought down in the box by the goalkeeper. This was set up after Williams was sent on his way from a fine pass from the wily Mosquera. Three unanswered goals quickly turn to four with another top draw pass from Mosquera to Servellon who finished tidily to the right of the onrushing goalkeeper to make it 4-2 in the 39th minute.
It was now down to the coach with the better tactics and influence who will prevail in the second half. Matata was first out the blocks at Usain Bolt’s blistering pace and was rewarded in the 56th minute when Hafton turned home one from a tight angle. Before the smoke could settle it was 4-4, Khamis collected a defense splitting peach of a pass from Desdunes to outpaced Kamal Azimi and slot home from an acute angle. Its funny how easily a smile can turn to a frown in seconds in a game of football, Williams could not believe his luck when he was gifted with a second penalty, but his tamed shot was well read by keeper David Magala and it was turned around the post for a corner kick.
Coach David Largie of Seas was furious on the sideline as he paced the touchline waiting for the final whistle to have a go at his players. Five minutes from regulation time Matata was given an early Easter gift after captain Khalisay Sahlu turned expertly in the box and was brought down clumsily by defender Israel Tuyisenge. Desdunes stepped up and thumped it home from 12 yards to make it 5-4. The referee played four minutes of stoppage time, but Matata weathered Seas final assault for a much-needed three points after a thrilling contest.
Seas Manager: David Largie- “I thought Seas did well and we were hanging on and then the game went into a period of madness of goals. Bad goals for them and bad goals for us. In the end, five bad goals for us and four for them. I’m extremely disappointed the way we defended, particularly the last two goals when we got ourselves in front.”
Matata Manager, Hippolyt Emekourou – “The players have shown a good way throughout and, for them to have something positive, I think it’s important to have something to change the luck man.
“I can’t say it enough, it’s a great bunch of guys and an unbelievable club but when things are going in the wrong direction, it just takes sometimes a lot of determination and courage. We are definitely challenging for the title this season.”
“You can only repeat that message so many times until it gets old. Today I do not need to say much, I can let them feel good about it. I made a drastic change before the first half ended but I rather lose without him than let him stay and win he was communicating poorly around the back and could have cost us the game. They get an extra day off and then we get back to work knowing we still have a long way to go.”