Official Game Statements:

Games 312, 313 and 314 (Friendly Matches), 02-05-300 thru 02-09-300:

Game 312: Eastern Zartania - Albion-Merité:
 The Technical Information:

Played at: Planetarium Field, Alfacron, Eastern Zartania
Attendance: 70,000
Referee: Alexi Verbatim (Ansonia)
Goals: Werbeck (ALB, 25th), McBride (KTZ, 29th), Hohenzoln (ALB, 38th),
Risold (ALB, 43rd), Lenderval (ALB, 59th), Faulkner (KTZ, 61st), Nurytch
(KTZ, 71st), McBride (KTZ, 84th)
Yellow cards: Wystr (KTZ, 38th), Paulini (KTZ, 52nd), Nurytch (KTZ,
Substitutions: Hall for Obyrne (ALB, 46th), Cross for Gottmik (KTZ,
46th), du Cron for Paulini (KTZ, 54th)

The Albion-Merité Imperial Eagles pulled off yet another shocker, and
kept their unbelievable record going last night with a 4-4 tie against
Eastern Zartania.

The Imperial Eagles advanced their record slightly with their second tie
of the year, giving them a 1-1-2 record, though they've been outscored 6
goals to 10.  The draw seems to be Albion-Merité's best friend, and it
refused to let them down last night.  Going into the game, Eastern
Zartania was the hands-down favorite.  Ranked third in the world still,
and having beaten the Imperial Eagles previously 3-0, the Zartanians
were seen to be out for revenge for their early freakish exit from the
VexCup in January.  The Imperial Eagles, on the other hand, had proven
themselves to be an inconsistent team in the past, unable to power its
way past the big boys.  Perhaps it was Eastern Zartania's overconfidence
that created the problem.

Planetarium Field was filled to capacity well before the game started.
Alfacron was formerly the capital of the exiled Albionish people, and
the city still contains a large ethnic Albionish minority.  And
apparently all of them bought tickets to the game.  The crowd was split
almost evenly between Zartanian and Albionish fans.  The large number of
red and green flags in the stands seemed at times to bring the Imperial
Eagles to life on the field.

The game opened in rather dramatic style, each team trying to jump out
to the early lead.  Slaktun proved his worth to Eastern Zartania's
acting head coach John Hefter, grabbing at least one sure-shot short of
the net, and tipping two others over the goal.  But Albion-Merité drew
first blood in the 25th minute when Werbeck found a huge gap in the
Zartanian defense and positively drilled the ball into the net.

The fledgeling KTZ defense would prove to be their weak link the
remainder of the game.  Gottmik, celebrating his 41st birthday next
month, appeared to be well past his prime, and unable to keep up with
the less-experienced but younger Albionish players.  Duvall held his
ground well on the left side, but appeared unwilling to pursue the ball
toward the center of the field for fear of violating his teammate's
"zone."  Wystr, on the other hand, having proven himself a resourceful,
dynamic defender, appeared overwhelmed with responsibility, having been
placed in command of the defense for the first time in his career.

But Eastern Zartania's offense was still as potent as ever, apparently,
and in the 29th minute McBride forced his way into the Albionish
backfield after an over-the-head pass from Fouberg, used his footwork to
fake out von Trapp, and scored KTZ's first goal of the day.  That goal,
however, would be Eastern Zartania's only in the first half.  Less than
10 minutes later, the Imperial Eagles struck back when Hohenzoln made
good on a penalty shot off a yellow card given to Wystr in the box.  Try
as they might, the Eastern Zartanian offense just couldn't get back on
track, and the defense continued to bleed like a sieve, with Risold
scoring Albion-Merité's third goal just before the end of the half.

At halftime, both coaches made minor adjustments to their defenses.
Hefter sent in veteran Cross for the aging Gottmik, placing Cross in the
center and Wystr to the right.  Grimes, meanwhile, replaced Obyrne with
the relatively inexperienced Hall, hoping to give him some playing time
against an apparently lack-luster Zartanian offense.

The beginning of the second half appeared to have proven Grimes correct
and Hefter wrong, when Lenderval nailed the Imperial Eagles' fourth goal
off a corner kick.  But Eastern Zartania quickly got back on track, and
the "Thunder & Lightning" was seen and felt around the stadium.  Just
two minutes after Lenderval's score, Faulkner took a super-long pass
from du Cron, dribbled down the far sideline brushing the ineffective
Hall aside, and powering the ball into the goal past a diving von
Trapp.  With the score beginning to even out, Eastern Zartania was

Albion-Merité's next charge into Zartanian territory showed them the
fabled KTZ "Brick Wall."  With three veterans working defense, and
coordinated by Cross, Eastern Zartania's defense was unbreakable,
allowing only a single shot on goal for the rest of the game.  Instead,
the focus shifted to the offense, who went into high gear.  Down 4-2,
and with time slowly winding off the clock, KTZ's offense went wild,
running over the poor Imperial Eagle defense and making von Trapp work
himself to death in the goal.  To his credit, von Trapp provided
excellent security for Albion-Merité against the frenzy of KTZ shots,
with just two getting by him.  In the end, though, neither side had what
it took to pull of the win.

Albion-Merité proved once again that they have the talent and ability to
easily take advantage of an opponent whose guard is down, but their
defense still leaves something to be desired.  Eastern Zartania, on the
other hand, appears to be suffering a little bit from the leadership gap
left by former Coach Delvana's sudden departure.  The poor performance
of the KTZ defense should give Hefter plenty to think about in
preparation for tomorrow's game against the Western Zartania Rifles.

Game 313: Eastern Zartania - Western Zartania:
The Technical Information:

Played at: King Bruno Stadium, Imperial City, Eastern Zartania
Attendance: 101,879
Referee: Sergei Sakhov (Guwimith)
Goals: Nurytch (KTZ, 38th), Utz (KTZ, 76th)
Yellow cards: Cross (KTZ, 23rd), du Cron (KTZ, 60th), Paret (REZ, 60th),
Goenberg (REZ, 76th)
Substitutions: Kgormann for Jung (REZ, 46th), vun Royhil for Rees (REZ,

In a game that seemed to many to mark their return to the top of
international soccer, the Eastern Zartanian National Soccer Team pulled
off a 2-0 shutout of their western neighbors, the Western Zartania

Prior to the game, both teams released statements apparently trying to
bait the other into making foolish mistakes in the game.  Rifles coach
Christopher Delvana made several oblique mentions to his abrupt
dismissal from Eastern Zartania, while KTZ acting coach John Hefter
played up the fact that Delvana had several former KTZ National Team
players playing for him.  But for all the preparation, the game itself
was relatively boring, with only about half of the 100,000+ fans
remaining for the post-game celebration.

The game opened with both teams playing fairly cautiously, trying to
test each other's defenses.  Eastern Zartania quickly opened into their
standard fast-moving, hard-hitting "Thunder & Lightning" offense,
though.  The Rifles' defense, however, staffed with former KTZ players
and playing on an expanded four-man front, seemed to be handling the red
and black-shirted strikers.  It wasn't until the 38th minute that
Eastern Zartania finally got a break.  McBride took a pass straight up
the sideline from midfielder du Cron, and sprinted down the line pursued
hotly by no less than three Western Zartanian players.  With the defense
drawn off by the ruse, McBride deftly passed the ball back and in to a
waiting Nurytch, who took it to the goal virtually unopposed, putting
Eastern Zartania up 1-0.  The remainder of the half went virtually
nowhere, however, with both teams frustrating themselves against the
opposing defense.

At the half, several thousand fans made their displeasure with the
progress of the game known by leaving their seats for refreshments and
not coming back.  But those who stayed saw that Western Zartania's
Delvana had made the decision to swap out one of his defenders for a
fresh one, hoping to continue to hold the surging Eastern Zartanian
offense that was threatening to break through.

True to form, Eastern Zartania opened the second half with a gigantic
push toward the Western Zartanian goal.  To his credit, Rifles' goalie
Slicia directed a brilliant defense that resulted in a three goal kicks
for his team.  On the third of those kicks, the Rifles' offense returned
to the field and made their presence known.  Led by Paret, a former KTZ
player turned loose last year, Western Zartania barreled through the KTZ
midfielders and actually got off two shots on goal.  But their shots
were easily handled by KTZ goalie Slaktun.  In the 60th minute, the
biggest excitement of the game occurred when KTZ midfielder du Cron
stole the ball from REZ forward Paret, knocking Paret down, in a move
that looked more suited to the rugby field than the soccer field.
Paret, for his part, returned the favor with a slide tackle from behind
that took du Cron's legs out from under him.  For a few tense seconds it
appeared as though a fight would erupt on the field, with each player's
teammates gathering around him.  But referee Sakhov intervened, giving
both du Cron and Paret yellow cards and ordering the game to continue.

In the 76th minute, Utz put the cap on Eastern Zartania's win with a
penalty shot that faked out Slicia completely, and fairly rolled across
the line.  The shot came after a dangerous over-the-back header by
Rifles' defender Goenberg, who was given a yellow card.  Now down by two
points and with time fast evaporating, Delvana made a desperate move.
He removed defender Rees from the game, replacing him with vun Royhil, a
forward.  Both teams were now running a 5-2-3 setup, with Western
Zartania hoping to grab at least a consolation goal before time ran
out.  But Eastern Zartania was more used to the offense-heavy formation,
and they were able to master the Rifles with ease.

The win, while helping Eastern Zartania's record and putting them back
onto a winning steak hopefully, still appeared pitifully weak in the
eyes of fans, who were expecting a dramatic romp over Western Zartania,
who had never played a game before.  Western Zartania will have a chance
to recoup their loss, and Delvana will have a chance to try to mold his
team again, on Tuesday, April 11, when they travel to Badenburg Imperial
Stadium in Azhincour, Albion, to take on the Albion-Merité Imperial

Game 314: Albion-Merité - Western Zartania:
The Technical Information:

Played at: Badenburg Imperial Stadium, Azhincour, Albion-Merité
Attendance: 78,972
Referee: Ivo Jarsendar (Namuria)
Goals: Lenderval (ALB, 10th)
Yellow cards: none
Substitutions: none

In a game with no real meaning for either team, and drawing little
attention elsewhere in the world, the Albion-Merité Imperial Eagles just
barely scratched out a 1-0 win over the rookie Western Zartania Rifles.

While the game drew very little attention from outside the two
contestant countries, the tension was very much in evidence among their
fans.  Prior to the game last night, a domestic game was played at the
same field, and several thousand fans from that game attempted to stay
in their seats in order to see the game against Western Zartania.
Albionish police were forced to remove the fans from the stadium.
Surprisingly, as well, several thousand Western Zartanian fans were on
hand to cheer their team.

The teams came into the game fairly evenly matched by oddsmakers
everywhere from Nova Luxa to Fredrik's Castle.  And this game ended up
proving them right, almost to a fault.  The game opened with the
Imperial Eagles trying to take advantage of the home crowd and make them
a factor early.  Albion-Merité opened with an offensive burst that
lasted a full 15 minutes into the half.  Western Zartania's midfielders
and defense were powerless to stop the Imperial Eagle onslaught, and in
the 10th minute, Lenderval put Albion-Merité on the board with a header
in front of the goal off an arching pass by Peplau.  The Albionish crowd
went wild, screaming and yelling for their team.  On the ensuing
kickoff, Hohenzoln made a steal, and passed the ball upfield to
Lenderval, who dribbled past two defenders.  He then put the ball in the
middle of the penalty box, setting up Hohenzoln for the most perfect
shot.  But Hohenzoln was off his stride when he hit the ball, and it
sailed harmlessly over the net.  The Imperial Eagles' offensive was
spent.  The rest of the half, and indeed the rest of the game, was
simply a series of give and take plays, at time looking as though both
teams were simply running practice drills together on the field.  The
fans soon began to lose interest in the game, and the stadium steadily
emptied until the end of the game.  In the second half, Western
Zartania's offense experienced a brief surge, but it was quickly doused
by Albion-Merité defenders Jennings and Sproul.  Both teams kept their
starting lineups in the game for the full 90 minutes, which went a long
way toward explaining the lackluster performance at the end.  The
exhausted players were simply going through the motions of playing by
that point.  In all truth, nothing else exciting happened for the rest
of the game, ending in a 1-0 win for the Imperial Eagles that left
everyone, especially the fans, feeling somewhat let down.

Albion-Merité quickly seemed to lose all originality in their thought
and planning for the game.  Their offensives, what few they had, were
poorly coordinated and lacked sufficient midfield support to push
through to score.  Coach Grimes certainly did not lack talent, but
instead the vision and determination to hold the team together for 90
minutes.  The Rifles, on the other hand, appeared to be in the opposite
position.  Coach Delvana seemed to have instilled in the players a drive
and determination for teamwork that would have done Eastern Zartania
proud.  But Western Zartania's weakness turned out to be the youth and
inexperience of their players, who were unable to master the now-veteran
Albionish defenses.  Albion-Merité advances its record now to 2-3-3
overall, while Western Zartania falls to 0-2.