The Antonio Maceo stadium in this city was in turmoil for an hour before the last game of the opening tournament of the 106th National Football League. The ajiaco conga and the imported song have curdled and the main course has not yet been served.
When the players arrived on the synthetic turf, the thud of a swollen neck vein about to collapse was already echoing in their throats. Those who went there kind of foreshadowed what happened next.
From the headmaster’s whistle, the outcome was guessed more by acrimony than by football. Many heavy blows were a yoke for Artemis’ party, who appeared on the shimmering green grass more like submissive prey than an unholy warrior assailing the opponent’s square.
A wrongful slip cost the troops of the West Squadron, which showed up without several of its regulars due to sanctions and a bench without emergency supplies.
Santiago de #Cuba Yes #Mugwort to a good finish #soccer The opening tournament final will be played at the Antonio Maceo stadium in the city of heroes this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. https://t.co/2Qr48Y7dro pic.twitter.com/lI3v9ZeJFE
— JIT Cuban Sport (@jit_digital) May 14, 2022
Then, the blow dealt by Villa Clara, just before arriving here, left them very seriously injured: with the defeat of the undefeated team in the last meeting against the Expreso del Centro, the faith was also lost and the visitor paid dearly for it.
Football is also played with determination and the rojiblanco team did not bring enough to this game, this time dressed in green. It was barely noticeable in the ninth minute, after Rolando Abreu’s first goal. The Artemisian faces betrayed that there would be no place for the tactic to contain the bleeding from that first wound.
It was now a bleeding beast, so bruised that it showed no sign of life, not even out of pride. Much credit was given to Isaac Querol, the local manager, who figured out that in stopping machine gunner Yasnay Rivero, the dying man couldn’t do much in self-defense.
“We knew that stopping Yasnay and Allán Pérez would make the job easier and we managed to isolate them from the rest of the team, which allowed us to suffer very little in defense and put more men in attack” , he confessed. HIT after the match “El Coqui” Querol.
With half the task accomplished, the matador Jorge Villalón put on the second, still with his head, and chilled the souls of the rival who was already walking more by instinct than by conviction.
Coming back from the break, the same formula: cross from the wing and goal in the air, once again the international Abreu sent him into the back of the net with a header.
Then you could see Western leaders as a dying team wandering the field. At that time there was no contingency plan, the strong leg did not appear nor the push that gives honor. The game ceased to be played tactically and a war of psychological and physical attrition began.
The artificial turf was the greatest ally of the Red Devils, which smelled of blood and would devour the prey prevented from reacting. One after the other, each goal came until completing seven, each destroying, without the slightest demonstration of compassion, the pride of the rival at the mercy of those who knew themselves champions even with a lot of time to play.
Setting up two youngsters like Brian Savigne and Luis Enrique Ciudad was an act of supreme betrayal by the indomitable coach. The physical tightness of the pitch and Artemisa’s emotional breakdown favored both goals.
Christian Flores was not there to reduce his participation to an anecdote, his name should be on the list of protagonists, as well as every weekend that has passed before reaching this final. In three dribbles he entered the goal of Yoan Cantero without even shooting, as if the ball understood the goal of so many dribbles to the misplaced defense of the Westerners.
And the highlight came with Rolando Abreu’s third… On his birthday, he titled his Santiago, kissed the crest on the jersey and then won the unanimous award for most valuable, well that he saw teammate and captain Erick Rizo lift the cup was enough.
“It’s a double joy, I’m very happy to celebrate my birthday by scoring three goals and helping my team to victory, which is the most important thing,” he admitted in the hubbub of the party.
To reduce the performance of the Apertura champion and three consecutive national champion to his goalscorers would be unfair, but to explain that every Santiago man was superior to his rival would be redundant.
Likewise, it would be unfair to think that the image provided by the loser describes its quality. The low hours are just one more reason to think about making up for the debacle of their first national tournament final.
The Clausura will be a pedestal to repair the defeat. At the same time, the super champion announces his candidacy for the fourth consecutive crown. Today was the first step.
(Excerpt from Jit)