Welcome back to the Aswijan Assignment, a Football Manager 2020 save in the fictional country of Aswijan – using a database created by @Chilled_Moose.
With 6 games remaining in our first season in Liga Principale, Zagora Athletik sit in 4th place and in the middle of a tight battle for the final two playoff places. And things were about to get a bit crazy.
Before we started the season finale, news broke of several groups being interested in a potential takeover of the club, which our chairman was quick to quash. However, these are interesting signs that exciting things could be coming our way. Maybe…
First up was Chelbah Athletik away in some pretty savage-looking snow conditions, which our players won’t be used to in the rainforest climate of Zagora. But they didn’t let it affect them and put in an excellent display despite the narrow scoreline in a 2-1 win with goals from winger Tryfon Tahani and young midfielder Michalis Saivaldsson. Interestingly, top of the league Talat lost 6-2 at home to 16th-placed Ashab!
That win saw us pass our current club vision task of finishing in the top half of Liga Principale two years early!
We then drew 2-2 at Ain Sefras, in which Vladimiro Mashashi nicked a point from the penalty spot, then beat Ouarrik Oskat 2-1 with first-half goals from Fokionas Caito and another Mashashi penalty.
But we then went to the team below us in the league and lost 3-0, although their first two goals were from their first two shots. Pretty annoying… but, results elsewhere secured our place in the Liga Principale playoffs THREE years ahead of our club vision! I hadn’t realised, as I was still working on the assumption that it was a 46 game season… it’s not, it’s 42. Oops.
Then we saved easily our best performance of the season for the last league game, thrashing Hadria Kuduqni 5-1 – which confirmed their relegation having finished 4th the previous season. Bizarrely, Mirco Bjerg, who has been superb all season, scored his first goal for the club but the top performer was young right-back Arkadios Gram, who got two assists and has become really good in the last half of the campaign.
And that sent us into the Liga Principale playoffs on a real high, seeing us finish in 4th place in the league – let’s hope we don’t suffer the same fate as Hadria!
Heading into the playoffs
We were up against Al Aghora Athletik in the playoff semi-final which, interestingly, is just a one-off match.
The match was, unsurprisingly given the season we’ve had, very tight with neither team really creating anything. we went into half-time at 0-0 and I encouraged the lads to give us more, which saw us hit the post but not too much else. So I made two changes with 9 minutes to go and one of them made an immediate impact.
In the 86th minute, Mashashi got to the byline, chipped a ball into the box and substitute left-winger Giyandip Ascolese, who previously had 5 goals in 39 games for the club, arrived in the middle of the box to nod home. We immediately went on the defensive and held on for a huge 1-0 win that sent us into the playoff final.
Weirdly, all the league awards and stuff happened in the midweek before the playoff final, which was a massive distraction that we’ll deal with next time. But the season finale pitted us up against Athletik Club Al Tébourzahra (that’s why everyone calls them ACAT), who finished below us in the league but defeated Talat in the semi.
We came into the big game having only lost 2 of our final 17 league games, so we were high on confidence but not exactly scoring freely having only scored more than 2 goals in a game twice since October.
As usual, we started with a balanced approach but got off to a flyer as Martin Goronda scored his 4th goal in 8 games by heading home from opposite winger Tryfon Tahani’s cross. 10 minutes later Tahani was played in by Olivero and poked home past the onrushing goalkeeper from a narrow angle. We’ve built our team around a solid defence this season, and that showed as we held ACAT at arm’s length to secure a 2-0 victory.
Zagora Athletik had won the playoff final and secured back-to-back promotions. Next season we will be playing in Liga Regale!!
I did not think that this achievement was anywhere near possible at the start of the season. The media had predicted we’d finish 7th and our board wanted mid-table, so I would have been happy with finishing in mid-table. So I don’t really understand how we’ve managed to stumble into promotion – but we will dig into that in the following season 2 reflection video.
What I do know is that the main man behind this success has been loanee midfielder Mirco Bjerg. We really need to try and get him back next season, even though he keeps rejecting a loan extension. That’s because I know we will be massively up against it next season, we are way, way short of being Liga Regale standard. So we have a huge task on our hands in pre-season.
Join us next time as we take a look back on our second season in Aswijan and reflect on our best players and the key performers that drove us to promotion. And we will have a look at what else happened around the country.
If you’re enjoying the chaos of this Aswijan save and want to find out more about it or want more info on any of the players just let me know in the comments or get in touch on Twitter.