Lancaster MBA reaches semi-finals of MBAT football tournament!
Published 30 May 2012
The Lancaster MBA team reached the semi-finals of the MBAT football tournament in Paris in May 2012, beating teams from ESADE, Oxford and HEC Paris before losing to London Business School in the semi-finals.
Report by Karim Boguspayev
Lancaster team members take time off from football to explore Paris
The Lancaster MBAs had been drawn in arguably the toughest group of the tournament: first facing ESADE from Barcelona and then fierce rivals, Oxford. However the addition of five Graduate FC recruits from other Lancaster postgraduate courses helped give the Lancaster boys a potent edge to their attack and added extra experience to the defence.
With only 15 people from Lancaster attending the tournament, the group felt rather surrounded by the swarms of fellow competitors and their supporters. It was up to the Lancastrian lads to depend on each other and build a strong team spirit. Many teams went onto praise Lancaster for their camaraderie: a refreshing dynamic when other teams disintegrated into blame-games and arguments as the heat began to beat down on the pitch.
The group games could not have gone much better for Lancaster, resolute defending throughout allowed the underdogs to counter. In the ESADE game Luke Hobson grabbed a late winner from a Ben Smith free-kick and sent the Lancaster team into raptures. Excellent running down the wings from Jeff MacKenzie and Captain Karim Boguspayev provided Hobson with extra options to add to his tally, and the team defended well when called upon to deal with the pace and slick passing of the ESADE team.
When the wingers began to tire, the energy and composure of Willy Huang and Lu Zhao was as reliable as ever and saw the Lancaster team through to the final whistle. A surprise, yet well-deserved victory against ESADE for Lancaster caught Oxford out in the next game, who having started the better with an early goal following a fine cross into the box, failed to capitalise.
Lancaster regained their composure and punished the complacency of the Oxford team - who were blindsided by their win against Lancaster in Manchester - with a fine delivery into the box from Chris Green from a set-piece, Hobson grabbing his second of the tournament with a neat header to beat the keeper from close range. Oxford were clearly shaken by the equaliser; a row between Player of the Tournament MWP and Striker Wande threatened to further weaken a tired team. The endless running and tackling by Charbel Boumitri and Hobson prevented Oxford from mounting any serious attack, cutting out the supply line to the strikers.
Having learnt their lesson from the previous night, Lancaster opted for a quiet afternoon, some members of the team opting for a trip into the centre of Paris, whilst others enjoyed the beauty of the Versailles Palace and gardens before getting an early night. The quarter-final game against the hosts awaited.
A fired up Lancaster stormed out of the dressing room and into bright sunshine, the morning dew on the grass providing a perfect surface for the neat football that dazzled the bemused hosts. Swift interchanges between Hobson, Franklin Djeumou and Boguspayev tore up the HEC Paris defence, but to no avail. Despite being kept quiet for most of the first half by the tight defending of Mehul Parekh and Green, the hosts punished some slack defending to take a shock lead, the much-feared number 9 of HEC blasting high over Keeper Laurence Wiltshire’s net.
However it was Lancaster who went into half-time on top, scoring from another set piece as Hobson got down well to meet Smith’s cross with a crisp left-foot finish. Hobson’s goal would have been in vain had it not been for the superb reflexes of Wiltshire, pulling off the save of the tournament, diving high to his right to deny what seemed a sure goal. It was the first time Lancaster had gone into half-time leading, and it was the well spoken words of the Captain and central defender Konstantinos Bouzis that helped to keep the team composed and collected. The gamble to sit back and rely on the pace of Nuno Martins paid off; Boguspayev slotting the ball between two central defenders as Martins raced to beat the keeper, round him and send Lancaster into the semi-finals.
With time to spare until the semi-finals, the Lancaster team enjoyed watching the other sports and conversing with teams representing the various European business schools. The sporting element to this tournament helped to provide teams with rare moments to relax. The captains and coaches of IESE and Cranfield Business Schools inviting Lancaster to future sporting tournaments, whilst the Rotterdam team added to the fun atmosphere with free Edam cheese, orange garments and the offer of a post-match beer.
The semi-finals proved to be unfruitful for Lancaster, whilst tiredness could not affect the team spirit and will to win, the physical edge that had beaten other teams was lost as players picked up injuries. As Lancaster chased a 2-0 deficit against London Business School, despite the best efforts of Cesar Ruiz, Smith and Bouzis to prevent LBS from increasing their advantage, Lancaster were hit on the counter to eventually lose 5-0.
Lancaster went on to finish the tournament in fourth place, losing 2-1 to Rotterdam, although Hobson’s goals had secured the team through to this point, his missed penalty and a late own goal, meant Lancaster could only laugh and reflect on what had been a magnificent tournament overall. They had gone to Paris as an unknown entity and left as heroes, feared by many, respected by all. Their team spirit, recognised through a distinct warm-up clapping ritual could only be admired by the other teams, this spirit went late on into the night; Wiltshire showing the team how it was done by sharing his keenness and spirit with Rotterdam. A team fancy dress photograph divulged the true meaning of the MBA Tournament: strength through unity, unity through enjoyment.
The Lancaster MBA and HEC-Paris teams