London Free Press: Wizards Magic Stops City
September 28, 2003.
Wizards magic stops City
Ottawa didn't think it should have had to face London, but still came to play.
By KATHY RUMLESKI, Free Press Sports Reporter
It was a game the Ottawa Wizards didn't feel they should have had to play, but they certainly came to play last night.
The Wizards defeated London City 3-0 at Cove Road field in the wild-card game of the Canada Cup -- the Canadian Professional Soccer League's cup championship.
"We came here for three days. We're staying," said Ottawa GM Jim Lianos, who said earlier in the week that his team would be around for the full weekend. "(But) to their credit, (City) stuck in there."
Tonight, the Wizards play the Brampton Hitmen in a Cup semifinal at 8:15 p.m.
"We played well," said City GM Harry Gauss. "The sad part about it is we had an early defensive mistake that set the tone.
"They're not that special," he said of Ottawa.
The Wizards, the Eastern Conference winners, scored their first goal in the 27th minute when the City defence wasn't able to clear the ball after Abraham Osman brought it into London's end.
Peter Mponda, a Malawi national team member with 33 caps, pounced on the ball about 18 yards out and drilled a low shot into the left corner past London goalkeeper Anthony Camacho. It was Mponda's first of two.
Camacho made several great saves to keep the score close, including shutting down Kevin Nelson -- the 2001 CPSL top goal scorer, who is bidding for this year's title with 15 goals -- from 10 yards out.
"Their goalie played a tremendous game. He probably saved three goals," Lianos said.
Mponda, who did a backward somersault and flip after he scored his first goal, broke into the box on his second on a play that started on a free kick in the 85th minute.
A couple of minutes later, Ottawa captain Abraham Osman headed in the third goal.
Gentjan Buzali had an opportunity to tie the game in the 75th minute for City when the team was awarded a free kick from 21 yards out. It was a well struck ball that curled and hit the corner of the crossbar.
Despite some acrimony between the two teams in the week leading up to the game, there was little seen on the field. When City's Janko Stukic was struck in the face by a ball shot from close range -- an ambulance came to the field to take him to hospital -- Wizards Surland David and Roger Groome helped him to the sideline.
Stukic was conscious when he left on a stretcher, but seemed disoriented. He was still under observation late last night.
Ottawa had to play in the wild card because the team only played one round of two games in the cup draw, while the other teams played two rounds. The concession was made because Ottawa already incurs a lot of travelling expenses to play in the league.
Lionis told The Free Press he would have preferred to play two rounds rather than be forced to play a wild-card game.
In the other semifinal today, the Vaughan Sun Devils take on Toronto Croatia at 5:45 p.m. Tomorrow's championship game begins at 3:15 p.m.
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