By AFC Mobile
AFC Mobile lost 1-0 to Southern States SC on Wednesday night in Mobile. The Stars took the lead late in the first half after being stifled by a new-look AFC Mobile backline, which saw head coach Steve Wieczorek play five at the back for the first time this season.
“I think we were tremendous tonight to be quite honest,” Wieczorek said. “We were competitive, we were mature, we did all the things that we needed to do except get the one goal we were playing for.”
It was apparent that the Azaleas were expecting a high-pressing match from the visiting Stars. Southern States controlled the ball for the early part of the match, but the Azaleas’ backline frustrated the Stars and kept them from finding the back of the net. However, the Stars took the lead late in the first half when Danny Reynolds sent a low-rolling cross into the box that was slotted home by Julian Avila
“We expected them to come hard,” AFC Mobile captain Thierry Zabarel said. “That wasn’t an easy game. Overall we did a great job, but little mistakes make the difference. But we have another game on Saturday, so we’ve got to focus.”
The Azaleas made two changes to start the second half, bringing Darius Rashid and Ronaldo Fortune in for Eddie Dakwa and Karl Mbouombouo. Southern States dominated much of the possession, but continued to be frustrated by Mobile’s defense. The Azaleas received a much- needed spark in the 60th minute when Ronaldo Fortune hit the Stars on a counterattack while Southern States keeper Hector Grajeda was off his line. However, Fortune’s shot did not challenge the keeper as it went just left of the goal.
In the 80th minute Mobile subbed on Iba Ndaw for Blake Palmquist and Chisom Ogbonna for Andrew Rhoda. With this substitution, Ogbonna became the all-time leading appearance leader for AFC Mobile.
“Coming into the game, I heard a lot of screaming, but I don’t know what to say, but I love them all and I’m so happy to be here,” Ogbonna said. I’m trying to give everything I have to the team, to the community, to the fans. I love them so much.”
Along with holding the all-time appearance record for the club, Ogbonna also is the all-time goal scoring leader. Coach Wieczorek sang Ogbonna’s praises after the match.
“When you get the opportunity to work with players with such integrity and class, and [who] cares so much about the club and puts the club first in all their actions and all the things that they do, I’m just very very pleased with him,” Wieczorek said. “He’s a very important fixture for the club and I’m very happy to have worked with him and I hope for more time with him because he’s the type of person that the young players need to emulate and look to be someday.”
Southern States are currently second in the Gulf Coast Conference behind Jacksonville Armada FC U-23. The Stars will take on Port City FC this Saturday night in Gulfport, Mississippi. AFC Mobile is currently level on points with Pensacola FC in fourth place. The Azaleas welcome the 59ers to The Lip this Saturday night at 7:00 pm.
Photo Credit: Riley Navarre