Major League Kendu: Cannons vs Lions Match Commentary and Report

It’s a beautiful night here in Vaashnapoor, where the defending champs, the Kapda cannons take on the young, hungry Duureanta Lions here in Vaakpati Stadium in the Major League Kendu season opener. I’m Valdezi Sun’khar, with me are former all star Lance Drake Mandrell and our sideline reporter, Abby Ramdha. We’ll be back in a minute with the starting lineups.

Kapda Cannons: (Red and Black)

Daljeet LeFleur ©
Peacock Serre
Isidar Srinath
Maasadar Mdang
Erel Mashal
Benares Avimukta
Kashi en Faolan
Alberic Longchamps
Ferd Van Girder

Lance: A lot of returning players this season for the Cannons. They lost one of their ‘followers’, Deel Duschagne, in free agency to the Mavericks, and have replaced him with the rookie Maasadar Mdang, from Tasharaana, on Intaki Prime

And the Cannons are coached by Kara Guruna

Lance: It feels weird not to say Saavin Singh, doesn’t it? Well, he’s parted with the club for unknown reasons. In the Singh-era, the Cannons were known for their “Illoren” offence which saw the team ignore the ‘normal’ positions of three north, three south, and three across the middle. Instead the team employed three on-ball followers and two players in each third focusing on yamala. Singh however, was also known for his punishing conditioning routine. Who knows if incoming coach Guruna, a protege of ‘The Special One’, will hold to his offensive philosophy or try something new.

We see Daljeet LeFleur run out onto the pitch now.

Lance: With multiple All-Intaki selections as well as All-Star appearances, Daljeet LeFleur is the most accomplished player on either team, but he is now deep into the twilight of his career. Rumour suggests that this, his 19th season, will be his last.

And here’s the lineup for the home team, the Duureanta Lions:

Duureanta Lions: (Maroon, Blue and Gold)

Eduard Trastámara ©
Jaluddin Rudra
Huruldin Krum
Vihaan Caron
Mahendra en Wylanere
Ranveer Ahluwalia
Takdeer Bellegarde
Quin Yashdip
Deandre Laurent

Lance: Yeah, the Lions traded problematic player Fadi En Grastenour towards the end of last season to the Dubaana Rockets and got back Deandre Laurent and Takdeer Bellegarde as well as some draft picks. En Grastenour was a known locker-room cancer who didn’t fit Coach Joshy’s widely discussed ‘no dickheads’ policy, despite scoring twenty five goals last season. The Lions may miss his offence this season.

And they’re coached by Alwin Joshy

Lance: Coach Joshy is a traditionalist in his style, known for promoting a positive locker-room culture and never showing emotion in front of his players or during games. Some have criticised his style as ‘utilitarian’ and ‘boring’ but his effective, team-first mentality has taken Duureanta from the bottom of the league to a team consistently in playoff contention.

And the Lions are led out by the imposing Eduard Trastámara, Lance.

Lance: Yeah, the Lions roll out returning captain, Eduard Trastámara who slots into the central midfield. Known primarily as a defensive player, Trastámara has been key to the Lions’ strategy over his career as he’s known for stifling enemy attacks, especially through tackling.

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Candra (0-0)

The teams line up around the pitch and it appears that the Cannons, in red and black will go with their ‘Illoren’ formation that worked so well for them during the Singh years. The Lions, in Maroon, Blue and Gold, appear to be in the traditional formation with the six-foot-eight Eduard Trastámara contesting the centre bounce of the Palandu and Jaluddin Rudra on the Vatama

The opening bounce sees possession of the Palandu go to the Lions with Trastámara taking it and immediately kicking it up towards the southern goal where Bellegarde makes use of the overlap created by Kapda not having their followers in place to mark the ball and set up a Yamala for Huruldin Krum.

Lance: And the home team is roaring! They love this team here.

Meanwhile the Vatama has fallen to Mdang who has feinted towards northern goal, and seeing the Palandu move that way has sprinted towards the southern goal.

Lance: That’s quite clever, Mdang has forced the southern end line of the Lions to split their focus between trying to gain an advantage on the southern goal and picking up the runner.

One of the midfield players, looks like, Rudra, has picked up Mdang and is trying to shepherd him towards the sideline where Laurent is waiting to trap the ball in a tackle out.

Krum strikes the ball with his foot from the yamala provided by Bellegarde but it’s deflected off of LeFleur for the Cannons and ricochets to the feet of the Cannon’s Mashal, who scoops the Palandul up in a fluid motion before being monstered by Krum, who still has momentum from the kick and is immediately forced to the ground.

Lance: Such great defence from Daljeet LeFleur, that’s just a veteran move

“Ball!” the crowd roars.

The Palandu has dribbled out from under the tackle - did Mashal strike it correctly? The referees seem to think he has because it’s play on.

Meanwhile Mdang has hand-passed the Vatama in a looping arc south over the head of Laurent to LeFleur who sets up an immediate yamala for Peacock Serre - who calmly slots it through the goal for an advantage.

Lance: What a clean strike from Serre.

This gives possession of the Vatama to the Lions, who have also scooped up the Palandu from Mashal’s dribbling hand pass and booted it down the northern end of the field away from the now congested southern half.

Lance: This is a good opportunity for the Lions here with double possession. If they hold the ball, they can swing advantage and then score.

Trastámara takes possession there. From a set kick, Bellegarde kicks the Palandu to the midfield as well, where it’s marked by Mahendra en Wylanere, who, at a sign from Eduard Trastámara - seems to be a play call, moves the ball to a quiet pocket of the field and stands with it, waiting.

Lance: Looks like the Lions are trying to quickly shift the point of attack to tire out the Cannons’ followers

Srinath, Mdang and Mashal streak towards the northern end of the field - looks like Srinath is peeling off to help the midfield corner en Wylanere, while Mdang and Mashal move to the Northern goal to try and regain possession of the Vatama, which Trastámara quickly moves downfield where it is marked by Vihaan Caron. Caron is picked up by Ferd Van Girder and he hand passes the Vatama over Van Girder’s head to the open Quin Yashdip. Yashdip sets up a yamala but it appears neither Caron nor Ranveer Ahluwalia can shake their defenders. The followers are starting to arrive with Mdang, who looks to be one of the fastest players on the field.

Lance: That’s just a great pickup for the Cannons there, on a rookie contract. They have such a great eye for talent.

In the midfield, Mahendra en Wylanere kicks the ball past the approaching Cannons to Trastámara who immediately sends the ball south. There’s an overlap in the southern field - Laurent has the ball unmarked and is moving square to the goal to set up a yamala for Krum, who has lost his man and is streaking into position.

Lance: This could be it, Val. The Lions could double up here if they are smart

Oh no! In the northern field, the Lions have lost possession - Mdang wraps up Yandip, forcing the tackle out. He then moves to set up a yamala for Van Girder. This is going to be tense - can the Cannons capitalise on the numbers they’ve created here before Krum gets his shot off in the southern field?

Krum takes the shot…. Got it! The Lions cancel the advantage - it swings back their way!

(Advantage Krum, Yamala Laurent)

But back up the northern end, Ferd Van Girder has scored, swinging advantage back to Cannons! What a see-sawing game!

(Advantage Van Girder, Yamala Mdang)

Lance: Van Girder isn’t a great shooter and that was a bit of a shanked kick but it did the job.

So it’s advantage to the Cannons right now with under two minutes left to go in the season. Possession of the Vatama has gone back to the Lions in the northern end. In the southern end, the Cannons have the Palandu, and the advantage.

Mdang has a full head of steam, running south to help capitalise quickly on their advantage. Serre has possession of the Palandu and he’s picked up by Bellegarde. In the northern end, the Lions move the Vatama back to the centre of the pitch, where Eduard Trastámara takes possession and immediately runs back north. Looks like the Lions are trying to create numbers at the northern end.

There’s less than a minute left.Serre hand passes the ball to Mdang, who is unmarked. Krum leaves Srinath to stop Mdang and the rookie just sidesteps him like he’s not there.

Lance: Oh man, what a move

Mdang hand passes to Srinath, who fakes a yamala and then passes back to Mdang. In the north, Trastámara is bearing down on goal like a freight train.The rest of the Lions midfield is flooding the southern end, trying to cut off options for Mdang. Alberic Longchamps moves to tackle Trastámara

Lance: Ooooooooo, that was a mistake

And just gets absolutely bulldozed by the big man

Lance: Oh, and he’s hurt too.

Mdang still holding the ball in the south, but can’t find a teammate to setup yamala for. The Cannons midfield have come south to help, ignoring the now three-on-one in the north with Longchamps dazed on the ground.

Twenty seconds left. Trastámara hand passes to Ranveer Ahluwalia, and then smashes the yamala through the northern goal. Advantage swings back to the Lions!

(Advantage Trastámara, Yamala Ahluwalia)

The siren has gone and that’s the end of the season. And it’s still nil-all.

We’ll throw quickly to our sideline reporter Abby, who has Coach Guruna with her.

Abby: Coach your team had a number of opportunities in that quarter but couldn’t capitalise. What can you do to break the stalemate here?

Guruna: Well, it seems like the Lions are flooding the defensive quarter and switching the point of attack trying to tire us out so our conditioning will likely be a factor in this game. If my boys have trained hard we will have put ourselves in position to win.

Abby: Thanks Coach

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Ravi (0-0)

Thanks Abby, Well Ravi is about to begin here. Advantage is reset and possession again begins with a centre bounce. The Lions take possession of both balls from the smaller Cannon midfield. The Palandu goes north, the Vatama south. The followers split to cover the two attacks.

The Lions again look to make use of Trastámara’s size to create numbers in the north, Longchamps, who got some medical attention in the break, is fine, but he’s back wearing headgear. He tries to jockey Trastámara instead of going headfirst at him this time.

Lance: Smart move.

But it doesn’t work and Trastámara calmly yamalas for Ahluwalia while fending off the defender. Ahluwalia kicks through the northern goal, advantage Lions.

(Advantage Ahluwalia, Yamala Trastámara)

The Palandu is turned over to the Cannons, who move their midfield north to try to cancel the advantage. But it’s all for nothing as Krum beats the older LeFleur. and provides a yamala.

This could be a chance for the Lions to take the lead. Serre is closing in defence.Laurent strikes the ball overhand, rather than kicking it, a less accurate style but more powerful.

And scores! 1-0 to the Lions!

(Goal Laurent, Yamala Krum)

Lance: Goalski!

There’s two minutes remaining in the half. It’s turned into a bit of an arm-wrestle here. Looks like the Lions have emptied the midfield and are trying to park the bus. Mdang has the Vatama and he is moving it towards the north goal, checking it every ten metres or so. Jaluddin Rudra has picked him up and has gone in for the tackle. Umpire blows his whistle. High tackle by Rudra and Mdang gets a free run

Boos

Crowd don’t like it.

The Palandu heads south in the possession of LeFleur, All of his passing options have been cut off and LeFleur doesn’t have the footspeed anymore to make anything happen by himself. Mdang heads to the northern centre, hand-passes to en Faolan who has come up from midfield and then screens off the defender

Lance: This rookie

He is doing well. en Faolan sets up a yamala for Mdang, who kicks it through the northern goal Advantage Cannons. The Vatama goes to the Lions who immediately try to kill it, while they send more players south to flood the dangerous end. LeFleur still can’t make anything happen here. The clock is ticking. Peacock Serre loses his man and gets open to convert LeFleur’s yamala.

Can the Cannons equalise here? But no, a diving Takdeer Bellegarde spoils the kick!

And the siren goes, taking us to half-time. The Lions lead 1-0

Lance: I won’t say that the Lions are playing super entertaining Kendu here, Val but their strategy seems to be working.

Well the beautiful game is a subjective thing, Lance. We’ll take a break and be back to you in a few minutes for the third season.

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Marut (1-0)

Welcome back to Vaakpati Stadium in Vaashnapoor. It’s a lovely night here as the Lions are leading the defending champion Cannons by 1 goal to nil.

Let’s look at the Road Ahead brought to you by Quafe.

The Lions go from here to face the Maatrukaanan Reds next game away. The Maatrukaanan stadium, known as the Stadium of Light, is one of the most beautiful stadiums in the League. The Cannons’ next game is their home opener against the Rohanaar Knights.

And the season of Marut begins with the Lions taking possession of the Palandu while the Cannons get the Vatama. The Lions midfield passes the Palandu around before they send it in the opposite direction of the Vatama, which Mashal takes south.

Lance: Looks like the Lions are going to try and kill the Palandu, play keep away in the north goal against only two Cannons players there, while they send their six other players south to defend. The Cannons are going to need to respond to this strategy here.

Serre uses the Mdang screen to get past Laurent, then Mdang rolls off the screen, losing Krum in the process. He gets the hand ball from Serre before he puts on the jets and sets up the Yamala for LeFleur, who puts it between the sticks.

(Advantage LeFleur, Yamala Mdang)

Lance: All too easy

Sad crowd noises

Lance: Man that looked like the champions again.

The Vatama goes back to Krum who then kicks it to Bellegarde. The Cannondstart heading back to the northern end, where the Lions have stopped just playing keep away and are trying actively to score to swing the advantage back. Mdang is ahead of the pack but just behind him are Eduard Trastámara and Mahendra en Wylanere.

Vihaan Caron turns and kicks the ball back to the midfield over the streaking Mdang,

Lance: It’s a feint! They’re switching the attack back south again.

Jaluddin Rudra immediately runs south with the Palandu, the Lions have both balls in the south now, with the majority of the Cannons sprinting back from the midfield.

Lance: Uh oh. This could be bad for the Cannons

Rudra finds Deandre Laurent.

Lance: They’re doing horns!

Laurent sets up a yamala next to Bellegarde who fakes a strike, to draw off the defender and Rudra, continuing his run, puts the Palandu through the goals, cancelling the Cannons’ advantage

(Advantage Rudra, Yamala Laurent)

Bellegarde then receives the Vatama on a hand-pass from Krum and boots it back to Trastámara in the midfield.

Lance: What a play there by the Lions. Straight out of Coach Joshy’s playbook. He’s known as one of the best Xs and Os guys in the league.

Trastámara holds the ball for a moment. You can barely hear anything on the pitch right now, the crowd is so loud. Mdang is coming from his blind side as he holds up possession.The Cannons have the Palandu in the south and they work to create an overlap.

Two minutes left in the season. Trastámara still hasn’t seen Mdang, who wraps up his legs in a diving tackle.

Lance: Good thing he didn’t go for the chest - he woulda bounced right off.

Trastámara’s hands are still free and he hand-passes the Palandu off, off balance and it falls to Mashal who takes possession for the Cannons. They have both balls now.

Mashal moves the ball north. Benares Avimukta heads south from the midfield and smashes a long strike from the yamala provided by Peacock Serre.

It’s to the left, but curving towards goal…

It misses, going out.

Score is still 1-0, no advantage either way. Lions have the Vatama here for a bound out. The Cannons still have the Palandu. Mashal and Mdang do a little one-two, looks like something might come of it.

But there’s the siren. Marut is over

We’ll go back to Abby, who has Coach Joshy. This sideline report is brought to you by East Vaashnapoor Savings Bank, Here For You™

Abby: Coach, how are your team looking right now? Have you been happy with the way we’ve played.

Joshy: We’re winning. I’ll let you know the rest after the game.

Abby: Thanks Coach,

Thanks Abby. And that was Coach Joshy, famously one of the most difficult interviews in the game.

Lance: I think he’s actually got more grumpy, Val

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Payas (1-0)

We go into the fourth season here, Payas, with Duureanta in the lead 1-0.

Balls go up and… looks like they’re penalising Eduard Trastámara for an illegal hold on Kashi en Faolan.

Fans don’t like it.

That’s a free run for Faolan, who takes the Vatama immediately north. The Cannons have both balls now. Faolan finds Mdang, who sidesteps Longchamps again, a little ankle breaker there

Lance: Oooooooooooo! That’s going to end up on his mixtape.

Mdang to Van Girder, back to Mdang, to Mashal. And Van Girder puts the ball through, advantage Cannons.

(Advantage Van Girder, Yamala Mashal)

Lance: Van Girder again! Maybe he’s worked on his shooting over the offseason?

The Lions get the Vatama north. Srinath has the Palandu in the south. He finds LeFleur who feints towards goal before reversing the back to Srinath. Krum buys the dummy and leaves LeFleur open.

The Lions are scrambling to swing the advantage in the north, but Mashal spoils the yamala with scrambling defence. LeFleur sets up a yamala for Srinath, who sprints in for the kick strike… takes it…MAKES IT!

(Goal Srinath, Yamala LeFleur)

Goooooooooooooooooooal!

Lance: That’s why they call Srinath the sexiest man in Interstellar Kendu. Look at that moustache, the flowing locks.

He does have excellent hair.

Lance: What a player. Reminds me of myself.

Both balls return to the centre for a ball up. The Cannons seems buoyed by the goal. It’s clear that the conditioning might not be there for all of them and this game has had a lot of running. Time is running out here.The Lions take possession of the Palandu and swing it immediately south. They seem to have confidence in their southern attack and why not? Krum scored fifteen goals last season.

The Vatama goes to Mdang who takes it to the southern pocket, waiting for the Lions defenders to commit to chasing him He seems full of energy.

Lance: Well he’s nineteen, Val.

Looks like Mdang is trying to split the Lions focus again, Lance

But the Lions don’t fall for the bait. Mahendra en Wylanere hits Bellegarde on the run, and Krum is streaking in from the other directions, a cross cut. Seeing that the Lions aren’t going for it, Mdang kicks the ball north to Srinath, who hits Kashi en Faolan on the break But he runs straight into Eduard Trastámara and is absolutely creamed. Umpires swallow their whistles, they’re saying it was a fair tackle.

Lance: Oof.

Ball ends up with Jaluddin Rudra. Lions have both balls now. It’s 1-1 still.

Krum smashes the Palandu. It bounces off the frame of the goal and falls straight back at the feet of Bellegarde. And it’s a tap in for Deandre Laurent.

(Advantage Laurent, Yamala Bellegarde)

Lance: The crowd is really into it.

There’s ninety seconds to go, and Rudra is moving the Vatama up to the northern end. en Faolan has recovered from the hit and is chasing. The Cannons have the Palandu to the south and are scrambling to erase the advantage. Rudra finds Caron who hits it back to Rudra on the run. Mdang and Mashal are cornering Rudra, shepherding him away from goal.

In the south, LeFleur has the Palandu and he finds Srinath who hand balls off to Peacock Serre. Serre moves to set up a yamala for Srinath.

Rudra centres the Vatama with a lovely kick infield to Yashdip who marks it directly in front. Srinath streaks in to strike the palandu

But he’s miskicked it! It flies to the right for a bound out. Lions still have the advantage

Thirty seconds remaining. Yashdip sets up the yamala. Mdang closes on his position from one side, and Ferd Van Girder comes from the other. Yashdip sets the ball high as Mdang closes on him faster than anticipated, diving to shut off a foot strike.Trastámara shepherds away Van Girder, keeping him from getting a play on the ball.

Lance: That’s borderline, right there, but the umpire doesn’t blow the whistle

Soaring above the pack is Vihaan Caron! He leaps over the diving Mdang with a massive overhand fist strike

It’s in! The Lions score

(Goal Caron, Yamala Yashdip)

Lance: Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal!

What an athletic play by Caron, and a heads up yamala from Yashdip. Mdang was there, did everything right

Lance: Yeah, that kid is going to be special.

Crowd roars drown out everything

They are loving this here in Duureanta. Could this be their year?

The siren sounds before the teams have time to set up the final bounce and the game is over, and it’s the Lions, winning two goals to one

Our sideline reporter Abby is talking to our players of the game.

Abby: Thanks Val and Lance, I’m here with Vihaan Caron. Great game Vihaan. One goal, fifteen disposals, and the dub. Happy with how your team played?

Caron: Yeah, the boys all held together. Kendu is a game of inches and we won the small battles out there tonight. Credit to the opposition they gave 110% and kept us on our toes. But we have to keep to our motto: Faith, Consistency, Hard Work Pays Off

Abby: Thanks Vihaan.

Caron: Thanks Abby

Lance is talking to the rookie Maasadar Mdang from the losing Cannons

Lance: Maasadar, what a debut. How are you feeling?

Mdang: Well, in the end all that will matter is that we lost. We need to do better as a team at winning each possession. Our conditioning is not yet what it should be

Lance: Yeah, but, thirty disposals, and you were everywhere. You should be proud. Soon enough you too could be an All-Star

Mdang: Thanks Lance. I just want to help my team win for now. There’s plenty of time for all that later.

Lance: Well done, Rook. Good luck against the Rockets.

Well that’ll do us from the Vaakpati Stadium in Vaashnapoor. The Lions will face the Reds next week, while the Cannons look to go 1 and 1 against the Knights. From myself, Lance and Abby, I wish you all goodnight.

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