Welcome back to the Aswijan Assignment, a Football Manager 2020 save in the fictional country of Aswijan – using a database created by @Chilled_Moose.
Last time out in Part 1, we selected the team that we will take charge of in Aswijan – Zagora Athletik. And we gave you a brief overview of the club, its league competition Liga Dukh, and introduced you to some of its better players and exciting youth prospects.
Now, with pre-season out of the way, it was time to get down to business in the league. However, I was still not really sure who my best players were and what our best formation was. In the opening few games I employed a trial and error approach, starting with a 3-5-2 formation that offered zero creativity and a narrow diamond, which also offered very little.
This was because the biggest strengths position-wise were at centre-back, central midfield and up front – were we had four strikers of relatively similar quality. But I couldn’t really make any of these work overly successfully. And, if you’re interested and for future reference of any names randomly dropped in, here’s the first-team squad in full.
Liga Dukh kicks off
The other issue going into these early games was that I had no real idea of how good the other teams we were playing were. Sometimes it would say we were underdogs but then the opponents would turn out to be not all that great. So it was certainly an interesting introduction to life in Aswijan.
The term interesting could not, however, be applied to the early on-pitch action. Our reign as Zagora manager began with two 0-0 draws at home to Lakhra Kuduqni and away to Sporting Uswana. Two more draws followed as we managed to score our first goal, albeit from the penalty spot, in a 1-1 draw at home to PC Aqjab then another 0-0 at Neim.
And we soon went 5 games without a win to start the campaign as we lost 3-1 at Ashab Unidi. It was at this point that I changed things up and moved away from the rather negative 3-5-2 and moved towards a more expansive 4-3-3 setup. And the switch immediately rewarded us with a first win as goals from young winger Martin Goronda and striker Tiberius Olivero sealed a 2-0 win at home to Kasra.
Two more victories followed as we also beat Sorrun 2-0 at home, with goals from Olivero and substitute right winger / striker Fokionas Caito, then a first away win was sealed by a bizarre goal by centre-back Benjamin Bernardi. The opponents’ goalkeeper had come out to try and punch a free-kick, totally missed it and a bit of pinball saw the ball bounce to Bernardi, who steered into an empty net from just outside the area.
A second away defeat followed at Zaan, in which we had Vladimiro Mashashi sent off after half an hour and they then dominated but only won 1-0.
The goals then began to flow, starting with a wild 3-3 draw at home to Ben Garrés, in which Goronda and Olivero both got on the scoresheet again. Then we snuck a 2-1 win at PC Manouza thanks to sub striker Metello Ardito’s first goal for the club with an 89th-minute penalty.
But our most impressive performance to date came with a 4-2 home win over Bahyid. We raced into a 3-0 half-time lead as naughty boy Mashashi returned to score his first Zagora goal from the penalty spot inside 3 minutes then doubled his tally on 39 minutes sandwiching another Olivero goal on 20 minutes. Bahyid responded with two goals early after half-time but after the second goal we immediately went down the other end to seal the game through midfielder Frances Cafiero.
That success saw us climb up to 7th in Liga Dukh, just one place and level on points with Ben Garrés who occupied the final playoff place. Impressively, Kasra striker Hegoir Poirot has already bagged 11 goals in 11 of his team’s 12 league matches.
Our improved form led to me coming second in the Trenor di la Mes (Manager of the Month) and Bernardi winning the Garda di la Mes (Defender of the Month). While Arkadios Gram came second in the Iuvento Libando di la Mes (Young Player of the Month) and Bernardi came third in the Libando di la Mes (Player of the Month).
First Cup action
We have a few different cup competitions throughout this season, and the first to get started was the Copa Populare, in which we played fello Liga Dukh side Al Khnidés away in the first round.
We’d been playing every Saturday and Wednesday throughout the season so most of our players were knackered. And I decided to risk cup progression in order to give them a rest and give some of the backup players an opportunity.
We were dominated in the first half and went in 1-0 down but Caito got us back into the game, nicely assisted by young midfielder Navneet Timsit, just after the break. However, centre-back Abdu’llah Dong got sent off on 70 minutes then they won a penalty on 79 minutes to progress. A red card and a penalty in their favour seems a bit dodgy though…
That took us to the end of the first two months of competition in Aswijan and we’ll leave it there for now. Join us next time as we look to press ahead deeper into the first season in Aswijan.
I hope you’re enjoying this intriguing, very different save. If you have any questions about it or want more info on specific players in the squad, just let me know in the comments or get in touch on Twitter.