October 3rd saw the 4th Friendly Cup held at the British Embassy in Tokyo. A six team invitational futsal tournament and BBQ with roots in a 30+ year relationship between NSK and the UK. With a last minute withdrawal from Adecco, BEFC carved out a third team to make this year's competitors: BEFC White, BEFC Red, BEFC Wednesday, NSK, The Keidanren and the British Council.
With a threat of rain, the weather played nicely, as did all the teams in a very gentlemanly and good spirited tournament, with some high paced action, super come-back match and high tension penalty shoot out to name a few. As in the spirit of the Friendly Cup, there were no referees and team's self referee their own games. Yet again the Friendly Cup has shown we can all just get along and play nicely.... and competitively as sportsman. The sportsmanship shown in this year's friendly cup was more beautiful than some of the great goals!
The tournament got off to a high paced start with favourites BEFC White showing their hours of weekly futsal sessions paying off with dominant and high scoring performances. Both other BEFC teams also began strongly (not a previous BEFC tradition!) making the coming fixtures look interesting. As the tournament progressed it looked like a battle between BEFC White and BEFC Red for the honours, especially when the British Council lit up in an astonishing come-back fight over BEFC Wednesday. Going down early 1 - 0, the British Council rallied with a number of excellent stops by their keeper, and a vital last ditch shut down by Alex Caughy to prevent Wednesday potentially ending the match with a second goal. This sparked a stunning counter and long range strike to regain parity. As a win for both teams was vital to stay in the race it became end to end stuff, with the British Council gaining huge motivation from their performance resulting in an almost Fergie time on the buzzer long range fizzing game winner.
Another hugely entertaining match was the play-off for 5th place between the Keidanren and NSK with the ball going end to end, and some many chances just being saved, blocked and nearly. It ended equal, making the only penalty shoot-out of the competition finally going in the way of the Keidanren with a class save from their keeper, who had been outstanding all tournament.
The battle for 3rd was a payback match for BEFC Wednesday, and this time, although an intense battle, the British Council couldn't muster the special mojo to upset them a 2nd time.
Then the final between BEFC White and Red had a strange feeling of a Wednesday night futsal session in a tight affair which saw the pressure style of BEFC White finally crack the shell of Red's defence, who couldn't capitalise on their counter attack efforts.
This meant BEFC White retained the Friendly Cup for the British Embassy with the final standings:
1st - BEFC White
2nd - BEFC Red
3rd - BEFC Wednesday
4th - British Council
5th - The Keidanren
6th - NSK
Adecco Tournament MVP - Nobuyuki Aroshi (The Keidanren)
This year's standing had a little feel of a BEFC Whitewash, but this also goes to show that as a club BEFC has been actively working and training hard to become better and better, not just in the Friendly Cup, but to compete in general competitions 7 aside and aim for promotion to Division 1 in the 11s TML.
After the tournament the team's gather in the Embassy bar and patio area to enjoy good company and a superb BBQ from master chef Fernando whose cooking reputation has been growing and spreading with each event!!
BEFC would like to thank all the teams for joining in the Friendly Cup, David Ellis, Richard Oppenheim, Richard Sciver and of course Fernando and his team for making this year's cup a success.