Welcome back to the Aswijan Assignment, a Football Manager 2020 save in the fictional country of Aswijan – using a database created by @Chilled_Moose.
Our first season in charge of Khaliza Unidi had gotten off to a great start with us sitting in the Champions League places. However, all of the teams around us had huge numbers of games in hand on us.
The second half of our first campaign in charge of Khaliza Unidi began at home to perennial champions Aswijan Malikiy. We started really well with Francisco Trincao missing a couple of decent chances but – in true FM style – Malikiy went and scored with their first shot. They then took control and, despite us out-shooting them 17 to 11, we lost 4-2, but there were plenty of positives to take from the performance.
Other good news was that we broke the Khaliza Unidi record attendance in this match as 59,508 fans flocked to see the in-form side take on the champions (the previous record was 59,444).
We then went to Hamjar who, of course, scored with their first shot. I made three late subs and it just about worked as Calvin Stengs scored an 89th-minute equaliser. But we were the better team by miles and it was a very frustrating match.
Next up was former club Zagora Athletik. Could even they score their first shot of the match against us? Actually yes… but Aatami Begovic’s effort was thankfully disallowed for offside. That came after 30 minutes, when Trincao had already put us ahead (with our 8th shot) on 21 minutes. Trincao then doubled the tally on the verge of half-time and, despite 21 shots to their 3, we did nothing else in the second half. However, Zagora did get 9 (nine) yellow cards, which I think is the most I’ve ever seen in a football match!
Another home game saw us go behind early on against Hadria only for Trincao to once step up to draw us level. And another triple substitution worked a treat as two of them combined for an 87th-minute winner, with Janik Haberer’s shot parried into the path of young striker Michele Mari. This time we didn’t really deserve the win, having been out-shot 17 to 11 and only having 44% of possession. But, we’ll take it.
In other news, our Under 20s have absolutely dominated their league and gained promotion in mid-February with 9 games remaining then won the league a week later. We have the 2 top goalscorers and assistants in the league.
Up and down league form
Last year’s third-place finishers Marrador FC then came to town and my decision to bring Mari in for his first league start paid off as he scored inside 8 minutes. But Marrador equalised with a direct move that begin with their goal kick, only for us to break from one of their corners and retake the lead with Stengs crossing to Sirajuddeen Christiansen. But Marrador equalised for the second time on 80 minutes, in what was the only highlight of the second half.
The bizarre nature of our performances continued as we managed to dominate 71% of possession against 3rd-placed Wabani but somehow lose 1-0 and only have 5 shots. Weird.
Our patchy form continued in a home game against Berche 08, in which we did absolutely nothing until the fourth minute of injury time. When this happened…
The best thing about it is the way Adam Hemmingsen peels away as if he’s scored the greatest goal of all time. Hilarious. That’s right up there with the worst own goals I’ve ever seen on FM, but for it to happen to hand us a 1-0 win with the last kick is just amazing.
At this point the league is looking ridiculous as so many teams around us have stupid amounts of games in hand, including Hadria having six in hand! We’re currently 2nd, but will probably get caught by at least both Aswijan clubs, Wabani and Hadria. So I think we’re technically around a net 5th or 6th.
But the poor form continued with a terrible performance as we lost 1-0 at 9th-placed Manouza, in which the well and truly out of form Stengs played a 5.9 that earned him a fine.
Next up was top of the league Aldaia, who’ve only won the 12 league games on the bounce! But we played really well this time, taking the lead through Stengs – who clearly loves being fined. However, he also missed a hatful of chances and Aldaia made him pay with an 80th-minute equaliser. But there was still time for Stengs to miss two more decent chances in the 93rd minute. In total, Stengs had 11 shots – which is well up there with the most I’ve seen – 7 of which were on target. Still, this was a solid result against what’s clearly a good team.
We then got some decent news with our latest youth intake, from which 14-year-old striker Severino Bono looks an alright player. The rest didn’t look too hot but we did get the brillantly named Kam Aguero and the star man of the Youth Candidates match with 2 assists was midfielder Arcibaldo Bazazobal.
From goal-shy to goalscorer
Goal-shy striker Ryong Nieminen’s had gone 6 matches without a goal, but he brought that to an end with 2 goals in 2 matches. First up, we went to Fari and won 2-0 with Nieminen opening the scoring then a lovely strike by centre-back Hemmingsen. And the striker also scored the only goal at SCM a week later, in a game dominated by our holding midfielder Gustavo Assuncao, who played a 8.8 and notched up 7 key passes.
We now had 2 weeks off ahead of our last 6 matches of the season, while some of the teams around us still had 12 remaining! It was really strange.
But we continued to hold up our end of the bargain with a 2-0 win over Mufala Malikiy, thanks to a Proper screamer then Nieminen making it 3 in 3 late on. Then we drew 1-1 at Hadria Oskat, in which we handed a debut to 16-year-old winger D’Ambrósio Balkan who won a penalty that Stengs converted. We had Sylvan Hefti sent off on 71 minutes and they equalised on 74 minutes, because of course they did. So I slagged off the ref in the post-match interview and got slapped with a touchline ban.
A huge final four league games
With a touchline ban in place for the visit of Aswijan Siti, my assistant manager took the reigns and earned us an impressive 1-1 draw. Hemmingsen scored an own goal early on but left-back Thomas Ouwejan bailed his captain out with his first goal of the season on 66 minutes.
We then played really poorly but snuck a 1-0 win over Talat, in which Hemmingsen scored at the right end after 5 minutes. This left us in third place and just 3 points off the top with 2 games remaining, but all the teams around us – ridiculously – still had loads of games in hand. That meant even 6th placed Hadria had 4 games in hand and would probably catch us as they were 10 points behind us.
However, this latest win did apparently confirm Khaliza’s highest-ever finish in Liga Regale. The club’s previous highest finish was 7th in 2021.
We then went to Hadria in our penultimate league game and unsurprisingly lost 1-0, with Stengs yet again missing some big chances. And that effectively meant they’d easily finish well above us when they finally bothered to play their matches.
The big news from Liga Regale was that Aswijan Malikiy’s grip on the league was well and truly over. Aldaia – the Europa League winners last season – lifted the title for only the second time in their history and ensured Malikiy would not be champions for just the sixth time in 23 seasons of football in Aswijan.
Aswijan Siti somehow managed to make a mess of their mass of games in hand, losing 5 straight Liga Regale matches. That guaranteed we would finish in at least 5th, and that ensured we would be playing in the Europa League next season! I’m not sure what happened to Siti, but I presume their players were knackered because they played 6 matches in 16 days – 3 of which were on 25, 27 and 28 April.
Our final game of the season was at home to bottom of the league and already relegated CSSC, who had just 14 points. Ridiculously, we had 29 shots to their zero but couldn’t score – with Stengs and Christiansen both having 8 goalless shots, which is pretty unacceptable.
However, Hadria went and lost 3-1 at Marrador, which meant our point was enough for us to climb above them into 4th in Liga Regale. And that meant Champions League football next season!!
So, while I was pissed off about our continued inability to score goals, I was chuffed that we managed to qualify for the Champions League. We earned £34.49 million for our 4th place finish, which should give us plenty of cash in order for much-needed strengthening in the summer.
We finished the league in a record high position, with a record low number of draws and defeats – so all in all, what a season!
Join us next time as we review a very successful first season with Khaliza Unidi, our fourth season in Aswijan, and look at our top performers and key stats from the campaign.
I hope you’re enjoying this save in the fictional nation of Aswijan. If you have any questions about it or want more info on specific players at Khaliza Unidi, just let me know in the comments or get in touch on Twitter.