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Pigeon power seals Victory win
by Mohamed Shaheeb
Haveeru 31 October 2002
translated by Maldives Culture


maldives pigeon magic


Victory football club won the National Cup on Wednesday with four goals, coming from behind after Valencia was leading by two goals. This is the second time in succession that the red and yellow team has won the cup, denying the opportunity to any other team in the President's football competition.

Captain Mohamed Nizam (from Thoddu island) and Ali Umar kicked two goals for Valencia on the 8th and 11th minute of the game.

Victory, which had won by 5-0 in the first semi-final, broke its goal drought during extra time in first half of the game with a score by the team's reliable forward Igwe Irona, a Nigerian citizen on loan from champion Singapore team, Armed Forces. Irona was bought at very high price. Victory's second goal also was also kicked by Irona during the second minute of the second half.

Both teams were working hard when in the 51st minute of the game, Victory's Ibrahim Fauzi scored with a deceptively easily single kick.

With this goal, the team that had first won the National Champion Cup in 1985 began to contest the game with renewed hope. They played even harder to set a new record. The spirits of Victory supporters also lifted.

When Victory took the lead, the Valencia players moved forward and intensified their attacks in their efforts to equalise.

But, under their coach Mauroof 'Maattey' Ahmed (goal-keeper when Victory won the National Cup for the first time), Victory's younger players held on comfortably and took control of the match.

While Valencia tried hard to kick goals, the score board displayed 4 goals to Victory after a scoring shot from Sagno Raphael, a citizen of Guinea, who had come on to the field to replace Irona. This was the 35th goal Raphael has kicked this season, and he is now the highest goal scorer in the competition.

Just before the end of the game, Victory's Kelta Baubarak, who had previously been given a yellow card, received a red card and was sent off the ground because while play was stopped he had kicked the ball from the field to waste time.

Valencia continued to attack without success until referee Riyaz Rasheed blew the final whistle of the game. Maattey and other Victory officials ran onto the ground and began celebrating. 'I have now received everything I wanted to achieve in my football career,' Maattey told Haveeru, after he received his medal from the President. 'Now my dream is to obtain an A Licence (in coaching) and to serve in an overseas team.' Mattey said Victory's success was a result of a team effort. 'I'm not going to say this all my work. It is due to the efforts of the Victory football team and all its coaches, management and players combined.'

Maattey said he was shaken at first by the force of Valencia's start to the game. Although they had scored two goals, after Victory kicked a goal he became sure the match had turned around. 'When we kicked a goal, I became very sure that if we could equalise then we'd win the match. The game turned around because of the strength of the pressure of Victory team.'

During Wednesday's match, the other thing many people noticed occurred at the start of the second half, when three pigeons flew into the ground. All of the birds were coloured red and yellow - Victory's team colours. One of the pigeons went towards the Valencia bench and team officials caught it.

When the referee went onto the field, the second pigeon was sitting on the centre line. The referee caught it and gave it to the Commissioner of the Match, Mohamed Ameez. Ameez took the bird to the referees' room.

The other pigeon sat on the Victory team's penalty line until the end of the game. Although it remained still, no one dared to touch it.


Haveeru's English version of this story (below) contains extra game statistics, and comment on the pigeon incident.

Victory SC wins 52nd National Football Tournament, sets unprecedented record
Haveeru 31 October 2002
Male', Oct 31 (HNS)

Victory Sports Club on Wednesday won the 52nd National Football Tournament, setting an unprecedented record of twice winning the cup for three straight years, the first time back in 1985.

The club beat Valencia 4-2 to lift the cup, bringing much joy to officials and supporters, especially to a moved coach Mauroof Ahmed, who was the goalkeeper of the team of 1985.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom awarded the trophy, accepted by Victory's skipper Ismail Anil.

Though Valencia opened the goal first, with one from skipper Mohamed "Thoddoo" Nizam and Ali Umar each, Victory came up from behind, with forward Igwe Irona (from Nigeria) scoring the club's first in extra time in the fist half.

Irona, also declared the man-of-the-match, is a player from Singapore's armed forces (Singapore's champion team) loaned to Victory. He netted one extra goal during the second half, followed by one from Ibrahim Fauzy and one from substitute Sagno Raphael, a player from Guinea who is also the top scorer of this football season with 35 goals.

Among the quirky in Wednesday's match, was the fact that some three pigeons, painted with red and yellow, Victory's colors, were roaming around the field. This is believed to be a psychological tactic used by Victory supporters to unnerve Valencia. Such tactics have been used before here in a culture where people still believe in the power of superstition and black magic.

Other trivial but notable factors of the match include three pairs of brothers appearing in the same match: They are Valencia's Mohamed Nizam and Victory's Ibrahim Shiyam; Valencia's Anwar Abdul Ghani and Assad Abdul Ghani; and Valencia's Ali Ashfaq and Victory's Mohamed Ashfan.












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