It was all written in the constellation…

Matchday 15: FSV Hansa 07 – VSG Rahnsdorf 49 4:3 (1:1)

On a typical European footballing weekend, fans around the world witnessed one of the strangest chain of footballing results. The trend during the weekend was that the losing team would fighting back until the last minute to either nick a surprise win or salvage a draw in the dying moments of the game. Newcastle finally drew 4-4 with Arsenal, Man United’s 1-2 loss to the Wolves, Bayern’s 2-3 disastrous loss against Köln, or even Hertha’s downfall to their derby rivals Union. And on top of all that, we can all agree that Lionel Messi plays football from another another star, outside of Argentina, even when he’s having a bad game.

Fans of Hansa 07 “Erste Herren” may well agree that they too have witnessed this unusual footballing phenomenon right in front of their eyes, on their much beloved pitch located at the Wrangelstraße in Kreuzberg. Little did they know, it cost them almost a heartattack until almost the last kick of the game.

On a very grim, rainy and windy Sunday afternoon in February, the first team of Hansa 07 – plagued with injuries and illnesses (Striker: Weikardt (knee), Midfielders: Wichmann (groin) and Wiemer (adductor), defenders: Dumam (flu), Gruhn (knock) and Borchert (Holidays…bastard) – were asked to dig deep, show their spirit and determination before the start of the game. The game plan was short and simple; short low passing, tire the opponent, try to take chances from outside the box due to a slightly weak goalkeeper, and most important: do not talk to the referee. This was a very clear and direct statement to all the players from trainer Ilhan. Game on.

From the first tackle made by the visiting team, it was clear to see that they did not want us play our quick passing game, due to their physical approach.
 Nevertheless Hansa 07 took the lead, due to a poor defensive misunderstanding from Bektas’ long throw in, Öktem sneaked in between the defender and the goalkeeper to nod/chest/back (I am not really sure how it happened) the ball over the line. Hansa 1 – 0 Rahnsdorf. The lead did not last for that long unfortunately, for the visiting team had other plans in store. Their constant long balls over the defence proved to be a nuisance as it showed in their equalizer. Rahnsdorf played a long diagonal ball forward, which seemed to go over the line for a goal kick, however, the tall and robust striker managed to loop the ball back over Büchner into the air onto the other side of goal, where keeper Haberecht was left stranded and watched how a Ransdorf player side footed the ball across goal over the line via the post. The score remained a frustrating 1-1 at halftime.

During the halftime, looking around, some players of Hansa 07 looked mentally beaten, although there was still a whole half of 45 minutes left to play, the tie was clearly still open. With this positive mentality the players went back onto the chilly breeze in the Wrangelstraße.

The start of the second half was the half of many halves. It took only 5 minutes for Ransdorf to take the lead from a freak strike on goal. No excuses, the score was now 1-2 for Rahnsdorf. As the match went on, frustration amongst the fans, the injured players on the sidelines, and the players on the pitch themselves started growing, because they just could not orchestrate the quick passing play they were used to doing. That is when mistakes started piling up, missed passes, silly yellow cards (none of them were even really physical fouls, just verbal fouls), and we could all witness a downfall of concentration amongst the Hansa players. One mistake lead to another, which eventually lead to the visitors piling up the pressure for a terrifying 1-3 lead which Hansa could have simply avoided had Hansa stuck to the gameplan.

We were lost we thought, our play did not work, some heads started sinking and one or the other looked for a black sheep or an excuse. But this is where the infamous European star constellation comes in play. Ali opted for a back line of 3 players (taking out Kökyaprak, as he was in danger of receiving a second yellow card), trying to push the game to Rahnsdorf’s half after adding Hubmann and Yücel onto the field. A risky change, especially for the F@*#ING long balls Rahnsdorf kept kicking forward. As the saying goes; no risk, no fun, and the trainer’s gamble eventually paid off. Jeannest de Gyves side footed the ball between two Rahnsdorfer defenders in Öktem’s path, in which Öktem coolly side punted the ball into the far left corner past the on running goalkeeper. Score 2-3, hope was partially restored and Hansa wanted to go for at least a tie. The pressure mounted on the Rahnsdorf side, more sloppy tackles were made, and the sloppiest of all was made in the penalty box! A slight hesitation from the referee, but to our luck, he blew the whistle and pointed to the spot. Penalty! The crowd was going bonkers, and so were the players! Öktem took the ball, chose his side, saw the goalkeeper move early on and changed his shot in the last moment. Score 3-3! The place was now really pumping! We were glad to play for a draw and waited for time to go by, but I guess we would not be known as Hansa 07 if we didn’t have a go at the opponents until the last kick of the game.

The fighting eventually paid off 3 min from time. As Bektas swung in a free kick from deep into the penalty box, where the unmarked Jeannest de Gyvès only had to nod the ball in with his head. But what a nod it was! The ball landed into the goalkeeper’s arms, looking as if he had a strong grip, but to our surprise the goalkeeper dropped it back into the goal in very slow motion. Rahnsdorf threw everything forward, until time ran out. Final score Hansa 4-3 Rahnsdorf. What a crazy match and definitely not for the faint hearted. To some extent well deserved for Hansa, but only in the last half of the second half. Both sides showed their fighting spirit and their determination to nick the win. It seemed all lost when the score was 1-3 for the visitors, but I guess, we can all assume it was eventually written differently in the constellation…

Lineup: Haberecht – Akdogan, Kökyaprak (55. Hubmann), Vissers, Büchner – Jeannest de Gyves, Leclaire, Rauch, Bektas, Neubauer (75. Yücel) – Öktem.

Goals: 1:0 Öktem (20. Bruststoß, Bektas), 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 2:3 Öktem (72., Linksschuss, Jeannest de Gyves), 3:3 Öktem (83., Linksschuss (FE), o.V.), 4:3 Jeannest de Gyves (89., Kopfball, Bektas).

Cards: Büchner, Kökyaprak, Leclaire, Öktem, Mr. X  (all yellow).

Man of the Match: We may know him as the average Joe. But Ercan Öktem showed the rest of the team the way to victory even when we all took the hard punches early on in the second half. It was not only his 3 goals that saved the day, it was more his tireless work rate that kept the spirit alive for us all.