TEANECK, N.J. – Perfect weather conditions and a nearly perfect performance by the team in beating Waldwick S.C. 4-1. After a tentative start in their new 3-1-4-2 formation against a team that was able to control possession well for stretches of the match, Hakoah made a breakthrough about 25 minutes in. After a nice buildup, star forward Saeed Baba received the ball out side, cut into the middle and passed to striker Michel Asayag who had put himself into a good position about 15 yards in front of the goal. He calmly lined up a shot and beat the keeper for a 1-0 edge.
Later in the first half, powerful French center back Mathieu Gouverneur drove a free kick from inside the defensive end to the edge of the Waldwick box, where Baba was able to bring it down nicely, beat a defender and slot it past their keeper to double the lead. Just before halftime, an onfield incident after a whistle changed the dynamic of what up to then had been a pretty clean match as one of the Waldwick players shoved Gouverneur after a 50-50 challenge and the Frenchman lost his cool and grabbed the much smaller man. While the other player got away with only a yellow, Gouverneur was shown a straight red and Hakoah were reduced to 10 men. The other defenders, with significant assistance from the dominant defensive midfielder, Sjur Gundersen, played very solid, simple, mistake free soccer for all of the first half and the Hakoah keeper was rarely troubled by the time the halftime whistle was blown.
The halftime team talk from Dov Glickman truly reminded the players that with a two goal lead but a man disadvantage, that their attacking opportunities in the second half would have to come off the counterattack, so the forward line would not be playing high pressure and instead they would be hoping to win the ball and spring Baba and Asayag.
Sure enough, a ball won in the Hakoah half was played ahead quickly to Saeed Baba, who beat his man and elegantly chipped the Waldwick keeper, put Hakoah ahead 3-0 early in the second half. Waldwick finally made something out of their increased time on the ball, managing to get a good cross in from the wing which their forward just managed to nod in ahead of Aleksey Nazarov who had come out to try to intercept the cross made the game (briefly) more interesting. After that, however, it was pretty much one way traffic as Gundersen and the defenders left no way through and Baba and second half substitute Jonah Silk had ample opportunity to run at the Waldwick defenders as they had numbers pushed up. The Waldwick keeper was fortunate to avoid a red card for one foul on Saeed Baba that gave Hakoah a free kick on the edge of the box that they were unable to turn into a goal. A number of other chances followed, including one header from Ofir Singal that crossed the line but was not recognized as a goal and a blazing low sot from Saeed Baba that hit the post and caromed out. Hakoah finally sealed the win as Silk was left to tap in after a scramble in the goalmouth left an opening for Russian winger German Dubovis to poke it toward him as he was left unmarked at the side of the goal.