In an intense game to kickoff week 4, the MSA Tigers managed to secure a win against the Gezira Thunder with a score of 21-07. The competitive game would help push further the hopes of playoffs for the winning team.
The Tigers, who came in strong after their win against the Cairo wolves, needed that win to maintain their position at the top of the west division. As for the thunder, although they had a loss against defending champions the Cairo hell Hounds, they were looking to secure a win to keep the hopes of an extraordinary season.
The warm up time had an atmosphere full of focus and thrive; we had to get some comments from both sides to know how they are prepared for the game. We started with the Thunder’s defensive coordinator coach Lawrence Williams, who had a lot of faith in the match. “This game is a must win for us.” He started, “I’m pretty positive about the guys and the mentality and that’s pretty much the way I’m looking at it today, the rest is on the players knowing that they can make it to the playoffs this year by getting a win against the Tigers today and most of the coaching is during the week but at the weekend and the game mentality there is no coaching just the players.”
As for the Tigers, newly hired defensive coordinator Mohamed Anbar had less words to say yet he showed his total focus on the game during his first coaching job, but the main question was will the departure of John Nyguen have any stumbles for the team’s playoff road. “John definitely had an impact on the team, but this is a team sport and one player does not make a difference for the whole team.”
During the kickoff the main surprise was the absence of the Thunder’s quarterback Paul Zimmermann leaving a huge question mark.
From the Tigers’ sideline it seemed that Anbar was working on all sides of the team in offense, defense and even special teams. While the Thunder’s sideline seemed calm and focused and it came to good will as by the first quarter they scored a touchdown through a 30 yards pass from QB Abdullah Hesham to Lofty Mohamed, followed by a 1 point conversion, to make the score 7-0.
The rest of the game was on a normal rhythm but showed domination from the thunder’s D-line by having 6 sacks on veteran QB Mina Akram in the first half; one came with a forced fumble, the pressure of the game showed on the Tigers’ offense and the rookie mistakes started to appear.
The Thunder showed their commitment with the run plays which showed the slowing down of their rhythm, while the Tigers’ offense began to build up, and by the end of the third quarter the Tigers were able to score a touchdown by a 31 yards pass to receiver Marwan Fouad, they felt they needed to secure the lead by a 2 point conversion but was no good thanks to a solid performance by the Thunder’s defense to make the score 7-6.
Later on, the Tigers’ managed to steal the lead by an 18 yards field goal by Mazen Wael to make the score 9-7.
While the game was coming to an end, the Thunder were still committed to their run plays and especially to their running back and previous MVP Michael Barsoum, who skipped the Hounds’ Game and just returned from an ankle injury, yet the Tigers’ defense managed to hold their ground.
with the arrival of the 2 minutes warning both sides showed the desperate need for the win, it was nip and tuck all the way until an amazing execution from the Tigers’ offense and especially running back Hossam Mohamed aka, Twix who was able to score an impressive 45 yards rushing touchdown taking the score to 15-7.
The Tigers’ will continued with an 81 yards pick six from rookie Khaled Mounir ending the game with 21 points for the Tigers and 7 for the Thunder.
After the end of the game we had to ask some questions. First was inactive quarterback Paul Zimmermann about the loss. “We shot ourselves in the foot at the third quarter, we had a strong start but then things started to cool down and the tigers took the advantage.” Paul also gave us the insight regarding skipping the game which is sustaining a knee injury in the previous game.
As for the Tigers we went for quarterback Mina Akram, who got MVP of the game, and stated his happiness for the win.” We had a slow start, especially on the offensive side, but we managed to pull through and were able to turn things around and secure the win.” He also had very strong and confident words for his young and rookie team.” We have to believe in the rookies, they’re the next generation of this team and we believe in every member of this team to maintain this season’s performance, they showed their performance and skills and that’s what helps building this team.”
Despite the win, and having a 2-0 record up to the moment, the MSA Tigers will need full focus in their shot at taking the lead of the West Division. While the Gezira thunder will have to think strong and redeem this loss to keep their playoffs hopes alive as they take on Cairo Warriors in week 6.