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AFC Mobile Clinches Playoff Berth With 2-1 Over Pensacola FC

AFC Mobile made history on Saturday night by clinching a playoff spot for the first time in the club’s short history. The Azaleas’ 2-1 win over Pensacola FC along with Port City FC’s 4-3 victory over Rangers FC sent AFC Mobile to the playoffs and one step closer to a Gulf Coast Premier League Cup championship.

“All credit to our players for the performance tonight. They knew what was at stake and they performed for 90 plus minutes,” said head coach Steve Wieczorek. “I’m really happy and appreciative for all the support to this group of players from the board, from the fans and at the end of the day making it to the playoffs was the step we needed to take to reward all the hard work for all the people that have been involved in the club over the last couple of years. And it’s because of all those steps and all of that work that preceded us that these players were able to do this tonight.”

It was a slow start to the match for both teams, with neither side having any threating chances. Mobile’s first real chance of the game came in the 26th minute after Tilman Schober played a great ball from the right wing into Arad Lev-Ari. However, Lev-Ari’s low-rolling shot went skirting across the face of goal and just past the left post.

Pensacola responded moments later in the 33rd minute after a booming cross was sent into the box and headed at point-blank range towards Mobile’s goal. Mobile’s goalkeeer, Domenic Nascimben, jumped straight up and palmed the ball away from goal. The ball was then cleared out by Mobile’s Ira Bowens. Nascimben had a strong showing in the final minutes of the first half, making two other crucial saves to keep the match level 0-0.

The Azaleas came out strong in the second half. In the 49th minute, Tilman Schober took a shot that dragged just wide to the left of goal. In the 52nd minute, Batevya Mediateur played a beautiful long ball from midfield that found the feet of Sam Blackburn. Blackburn was brought down in the box, and the Azaleas were awarded a penalty. Arad Lev-Ari stepped up to the spot and coolly slotted home the penalty for Mobile, giving the home team a 1-0 lead.

Schober nearly gave the Azaleas a 2-0 lead in the 60th minute, but once again his shot went just left of the post. Two minutes later, Pensacola almost equalized on a long-range effort from Lyuboslav Vitanov, but his shot went just over the crossbar.

Mobile took the lead in the 76th minute courtesy of an Arad Lev-Ari free kick. Sam Blackburn once again was taken down by the 59ers nearly 30 yards away from goal. Lev-Ari’s free-kick sailed past the keeper and ricocheted off the inside of the left post and into the net to give the Azaleas a 2-0 lead.

Lev-Ari began the season as a crucial midfield player for the Azaleas but has stepped up to fill the shoes of striker Iba Ndaw after Ndaw’s injury. Lev-Ari is one of several players that have made Mobile home for the summer and have been vital for the Azaleas this season. Lev-Ari says that the chemistry between the local players and out of town college players is the reason this season has been so successful.

“From day one the chemistry was so good. Everyone was so nice. We hang out together after practice, after the games, we go out, we go eat together. The local boys here, Memo, Erik, Max, Baba, Iba, Sherman… we have a lot of local players that are really talented as well and they really helped us settle in,” Lev-Ari said. “And a lot of them really stepped up. The fans, the entire city, it’s been a great experience for us, and I think that’s what made us better than the other teams that didn’t make the playoffs.”

Pensacola’s Lyuboslav Vitanov pulled one back for the away team in the 87th minute after heading in the ball off a corner. The 59ers nearly equalized in the 95th minute when Salia Carr cleanly tackled a Pensacola player in the box to prevent them from scoring on a breakaway. Moments later, the referee blew the whistle, and AFC Mobile officially clinched its first playoff berth in club history.

Starting right back Sherman Winchester, who has been with AFC Mobile since the club’s first season, believes there’s something special about this group that led them to the playoffs this season.

“The past few years we’ve always had the potential to do it, but this year it’s just something special with the new boys that have come in, coach as well, it’s just changed the whole vibe of the team, everybody just wants it more. It’s a great feeling,” Winchester said.

When asked if AFC Mobile was going to win the GCPL Cup, Winchester smiled and said, “Every single time man. Every single time, from now on.”

AFC Mobile has one last regular season match before the playoffs next Saturday at Rangers FC. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Volanta Stadium in Fairhope, Alabama. Make the trip across the bay and support the Azaleas as they attempt to win the the Gulf Coast Premier League’s Eastern Conference.

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AFC Mobile Draws with Tallahassee ​​SC 2-2 in GCPL Opener

A late equalizer from Chisom Ogbonna sealed a point for the Azaleas in their GCPL opener against Tallahassee Soccer Club.

The Azaleas opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a goal from Iba Ndaw at the top of the six-yard box assisted by Sam Blackburn.

The Battle Lions equalized in the 30th minute with a shot chipped over keeper Domenic Nascimben. The away team scored a beautiful curling free kick in the 86th minute to give them a 2-1 lead.

The Azaleas clinched the draw with a header from Ogbonna in the 90th minute.

AFC Mobile will travel to Hattiesburg on Saturday to take on Hattiesburg FC. The Azaleas will return home on Saturday, May 25th to take on reigning Gulf Coast Premier League champions Port City FC in the first leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup. Tickets are $10, and kids 12 and under are admitted for free. Season tickets can also be purchased at a discounted rate of $30 

AFC Mobile Beats Baton Rouge 7-2 In Final Preseason Test

Behind four goals from Iba Ndaw, AFC Mobile rolled over Baton Rouge United 7-2 in their final preseason test before the 2019 Gulf Coast Premier League campaign.

“Iba’s job is to bounce to the ball in the middle third of the field, and then get in the box and put it in the back of the net, and today he did exactly that,” said AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek.

Ndaw opened the scoring in the seventh minute with an assist from his former Spring Hill College teammate, club vice captain Tilman Schober.

“I have great chemistry with Tilman. We’ve played together in a lot of games, and he understands me well, and I understand him. I’ve always enjoyed playing with him because he’s an unselfish player and he always knows where to find me,” Ndaw said. “We’re going to do a lot of good things together this year, and I’m looking forward to it.”

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Tillman Schober and Iba Ndaw celebrate after a goal. Photo: Seth Laubinger

Ndaw netted his second in the 21st minute after getting on the end of a ball from Sam Blackburn, and he completed his hat trick by scoring in the 28th minute.

“It’s always a fun time playing in front of the home crowd, and after our first two preseason games we owed it to them to turn up today,” Ndaw said.

Baton Rouge scored an own goal in the 34th minute. Just three minutes later, Blackburn scored his first career goal for AFC Mobile with an assist from Chisom Ogbonna. The Azaleas took a 6-0 lead into the half after Ndaw scored his fourth and final goal of the match.

“I think he could’ve scored more goals,” Wieczorek said. “That’s been the big thing with Iba. He is capable of so much, and we just need to continue to drive that out of him.”

The match quieted down after a mass substitution for the Azaleas to start the second half. Baton Rouge United got on the board in the 83rd minute. However, the Azaleas responded just three minutes later with a goal from the club’s all-time leading goalscorer Chisom Ogbonna. Baton Rouge pulled one more back in the 90th minute and the match finished 7-2 in favor of the home team.

“In the second half, although we did concede two, we had a lot of the ball which shows we’re good in possession,” Wieczorek said. “Yes, some negatives to concede, especially when we’re well on top like that, gives us some things that we can improve on going into our first game.”

AFC Mobile will kick off the 2019 Gulf Coast Premier League season at home next week against newcomers Tallahassee Soccer Club. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Tickets are $10, and all kids 12 and under will be admitted free. Season tickets are on sale for $40 and can be purchased here.

AFC Mobile Coach Nate Nicholas Steps Down Ahead of 2019 Season

AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas has resigned from his position as head coach ahead of the 2019 Gulf Coast Premier League season.

“To coach this team has been a dream for me that I didn’t even know I had. I have decided to step down to see this club grow even more and for me to focus more on my family and McGill-Toolen soccer program.” Nicholas said in a statement that will be shared in full on afcmobile.net.

Nicholas was the first manager in AFC Mobile history, and led the club through two seasons of growth, including the implementation of a reserve team and friendly matches against two decorated NPSL Southeast opponents. During his tenure, AFC Mobile grew to become the best-supported team in the Gulf Coast Premier League.

“Without Nate Nicholas, AFC Mobile would not exist,” said Sean Landry, board member and CFO. “Nate believed in us when all we had was a logo and a dream. He gave us the ability to turn that dream into the heaven it’s become. The same qualities that led us to respect Nate and to bring him on board are the ones leading him to take a step back – commitment to family, to his profession, to his personal growth, and to his community. I, and everyone associated with this club, are grateful to him for his two years of service, and I look forward to working with him in the future.”

The AFC Mobile board was made aware of Nicholas’ decision shortly after the conclusion of the GCPL season, at which point the club began a search for a new manager

AFC Mobile is Mobile’s minor league soccer team, competing in the Gulf Coast Premier League. The 2018 season begins in May and runs through July. All home games will be played at the Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb Complex – “The Lip.”  Tickets begin at just $5, and children 12 and under are free with adult admission. A full schedule and information about season tickets will be available soon. Select merchandise is available now at afcmobile.net and The Trading Post at 7985 Tanner Williams Road.  Follow AFC Mobile on all your favorite social media platforms to keep up-to-date on additional information about the 2019 season!

Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday Sale

Everything in our online store is 25% off this weekend through Monday!

That’s right! All of it! From our classic Crest to our Skyline, to our MOB t-shirts, from our “2018 Supporters Scarf” and jerseys to the pre-sale items in our “Fall Collection” it is all on sale during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday!

Browse our full catalog here then use the coupon code “AFCThanks18” at checkout to save 25% through Monday!

AFC Mobile rolls in 11-0 rout of Real United FC

MOSS POINT, Miss. – AFC Mobile snapped a three-match losing streak with a dominant 11-0 victory over Real United FC Riverhawks on Saturday night in Moss Point. Goalkeepers Barou Ndaw and Patrick Davis kept AFC Mobile’s first-ever clean sheet in a joint effort, while the netminder’s brother Iba Ndaw led the Azaleas in scoring with four goals. Abdal Almutairi applied consistent pressure on the Riverhawks defense and scored a hat trick, including his first goal for the club. This match saw three AFC Mobile United players make their first team debut: Davis, Matthew Duffey, and Justin Mallis, brother of AFC Mobile regular Markos Mallis.

“We were just the better team tonight and it showed in the scoreline,” AFC Mobile coach Nate Nicholas said. “But just to be blatantly honest, I’m not going to really be able to take a whole lot from that game and use it for next week. With a game that high-scoring, it kind of gets a little bit unrealistic.”

Mobile controlled the early stages of the game. The Azaleas opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Martin Fiemawhle sent a ball across the face of goal that was slotted home by Iba Ndaw. Real United had a short spell of possession after the opening goal, but never truly threatened Barou Ndaw in goal. The Azaleas nearly doubled their tally after Dawson Jellenc initiated a string of build-up passes in the midfield. The ball returned to Jellenc, whose shot went just wide of the goal. AFC Mobile scored again in the 35th minute after Matt Merrill played a long ball from the midfield to Fiemawhle who chipped the keeper to give the Azaleas a 2-0 lead. In the 40th minute, Almutairi opened his scoring account by chipping the keeper and giving the Azaleas a 3-0 lead. Two minutes later, Merrill played another through ball from midfield and Almutairi sent a high arching shot in the air, chipping the keeper for a second time. The Azaleas took a 4-0 lead into halftime.

“They just needed high pressure on the defense,” Almutairi said. “I just did what the coach asked me to and I pressed high on them.”

Mobile found the back of the net early in the second half. In the 47th minute, Iba Ndaw took a close range shot that spilled across the goalline after it was fumbled by the Riverhawks keeper. Two minutes later, Ira Bowens played a ball for Almutairi down the right wing. Almutairi completed his hat trick after sending in another arching shot from a tight angle, giving the Azaleas a 6-0 lead. In the 53rd minute, Almutairi played a ball into the box and Matt Merrill scored from point blank range, giving the Azaleas a 7-0 lead. The away team continued to dominate the second half. Iba Ndaw completed his hat trick in the 80th minute after Matthew Duffey played him in from the top of the box. In the 87th minute, Duffey went on to score a goal of his own in his AFC Mobile debut off an assist from Brantton Greene.

Off the restart from Duffey’s goal, Iba Ndaw played in Tomas Lopez who slotted home an easy effort to bring the score to 10-0.  In the 91st minute, Iba Ndaw scored one more goal unassisted after dribbling past the Riverhawks’ defense and goalkeeper, bringing the final score to 11-0.

This Saturday, the Azaleas return to the Lip to take on Port City FC in the second leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup. Although this rivalry is only two years old, it has produced some of the closest matches and most memorable moments in either club’s history, and has been labeled the “realest rivalry in American soccer” by media outlets.

“Last time they did a real good job of getting one of our better players red-carded and suspended,” Nicholas said. “It’s a grudge match. I don’t care if one team is in the playoffs and one team is not. It was the same way last year and both games were very intense, very in your face, go-at-it soccer and I don’t expect it to be any different. I expect it to be pretty hardcore.”

Kickoff for that game is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 14th at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are just $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

Getting to Know You: Port City FC

What is the Forgotten Coast Cup? Non League America has called it the “realest developing rivalry in American soccer.” Port City FC (formerly “Biloxi City FC”) and AFC Mobile began a somewhat neighborly but also bitter rivalry in 2017 when PCFC came to Mobile and won 2-1 on a stoppage-time winner by Trevor Aires. That game included three red cards for Port City, a coach ejection, and some bitter play on both sides of the ball. When AFC Mobile traveled to Gulfport later in the season, they pulled out their first and only win of their inaugural season with a 4-2 victory. This weekend, after a delay due to Tropical Storm Alberto, both teams head back to the pitch with new players, one with a new name, and both with one goal for their supporters: beat the other club mercilessly.

CLUB: Port City FC

NICKNAME: The Sounders; PCFC

Port City FC, much like AFC Mobile, is an ambitious club. They were the first non-Louisiana team to join the GCPL and had a decent amount of success in their early years. The club has yet to make the playoffs, but along with Pensacola FC — who they tied earlier this season — PCFC is considered one of the favorites to make the playoffs in a stacked GCPL Eastern Conference. Currently in third place in the East, and only by the third tie-breaker of goals scored, Port City will be looking to get a win over their bitter Mobilian rivals, which would also potentially push them over Pensacola and the Rangers to the top of the Eastern Conference table.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: For Port City, Patrick Harrison has been a stalwart. One of the best and most consistent players in GCPL for the better part of three seasons, Harrison has made the All-GCPL team in successive years. With the Gulfport club, his importance cannot be measured on the scorecard alone. This year, however, the player most people will become most aware of is Jordan Hall. A left-footed striker from Manchester, England, Hall spent last season playing for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College where he was named an NSCAA All-American for his 28 goals and 12 assists over 18 games for MGCCC. This fall, Hall will be heading off to Rutgers to play NCAA D1 soccer. As of this moment, Hall is sitting on four goals and five assists for the Sounders and will be looking to continue this form on the left side of the attack. But Port City’s plethora of playmakers is not finished with there, they also feature the GCPL’s third all-time leading goal scorer in Michael Cooper. Cooper, who scored the decisive goal in the GCPL Cup Final for Gaffa FC last season, has returned to Gulfport and will be looking to further add to his already impressive GCPL goal tally.

The club can be found on Facebook and Twitter at @PortCityFC and its website, www.portcityfc.com.

Getting to Know You: Real United FC

Real United FC has had a season of ups and downs in the early going. By winning their first match, many of the league’s eyes swung in their direction. The second and third match of the season did not go as well. As clubs get acclimated to the Gulf Coast Premier League style of play, they sometimes find themselves back at the drawing board. And while the results did not go their way in Foley or Pensacola, they looked like they belong. With perhaps the best goalkeeper in the GCPL between the pipes and one of the quickest counterattacks in the Eastern Conference, the Riverhawks will be a challenge for AFC Mobile.

CLUB: Real United FC

NICKNAME: The Riverhawks

Real United FC has been around Gulf Coast soccer for a while. Several current GCPL players and stars have come through their youth ranks. This, however, is the first year they have put together a senior side to compete in the league.  Real United won their first ever GCPL game 2-0 against Shreveport United, but have struggled against stronger teams. Real United will come into The Lip hoping to pull out a point or three and regain their footing against the Azaleas.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Lamoy Graham is the real deal. The goalkeeper for Real United has had plenty of experience in the GCPL and beyond. Graham served as the keeper for CD Motagua of New Orleans when they went on their Lamar Hunt US Open Cup run three seasons ago. In his only game in goal for the Riverhawks last week, Graham shot up the saves leader chart in the GCPL. His freakish athleticism and determined leadership is something to keep an eye on. On the other end of the pitch is Denver Bankston, a Spring Hill College alumnus and former USL and NPSL player.  Bankston is a great target for Real United who thrive on the counterattack.

The club can be found on Facebook and Twitter at @GoRiverhawks and their website www.unitedriverhawks.com.

New addition shines in first home win against Northshore United

 

Smiles and good times were in abundance at Archbishop Lipscomb Stadium as AFC Mobile opened up its 2018 defense of The Lip with a 2-1 defeat of Covington, Louisiana’s Northshore United FC in preseason friendly action.

Coach Nate Nicholas fielded a slightly depleted side as several anticipated starters are not scheduled to see action until next week’s visit by the NPSL South Region Conference’s New Orleans Jesters in the final match before the start of the 2018 GCPL season.

The opening minutes of the match had the roughly even, tentative start that one would expect of two sides still working on their chemistry, but it did not take long for AFC Mobile Forward Iba Ndaw to find a breaking Chisom Ogbonna in the fourth minute for the first of what would be many combinations and close scoring opportunities.

By the tenth minute, the Azaleas started to gain confidence and momentum in their possession, culminating in an insightful pass from Martin Fiemawhle to a breaking Ogbonna, who teamed with Ndaw to work through the Northshore defense before being taken down 24 yards from goal. On the ensuing free kick, Iba Ndaw uncorked a blistering, curling shot that evaded the outstretched arms of the keeper and smacked into the back of the net to give Mobile a 16th minute 1-0 lead.

Ndaw would be rewarded again when Matt Merrill lofted a 40 yard cross-field pass to a streaking Brantton Greene, whose squaring pass found Ndaw at the top of the penalty area. Ndaw circled to create space and fizzed a low shot with his weaker foot, which bounced off the far post and across the line to give the Senegalese native his second goal of the match.

After securing the lead, Coach Nicholas took advantage of the unlimited substitutions agreed upon for the friendly match to experiment with different options and player combinations. Northshore continued to work on shutting down AFC Mobile’s attack and began to test the depth of their defense with increasingly consistent possession that persisted until halftime.

The second half saw a determined Northshore side continue to mount pressure, which was rewarded in the 47th minute when United standout Salim Yillah slipped free of his marking and headed home a corner kick to cut the margin in half. Northshore continued to apply pressure to get an equalizer against a Mobile side that was focusing on defending their lead. The Azaleas’ line held strong until the 61st minute, when a cutting through ball led to a Northshore attacker alone against the keeper. The shot was well taken and was headed toward the top corner of the net, but an acrobatic effort from Mobile keeper Elijah Gibson deflected the ball to preserve AFC Mobile’s lead. AFC Mobile held on to win its first home match 2-1 in front of an ecstatic preseason crowd of 765.

AFC Mobile’s next match is against the New Orleans Jesters on Saturday, May 5th at 7:00 pm at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and kids 12 and under get in free. You will be able to finish off your Cinco de Mayo properly with the El Milagro Taqueria Y Pupuseria food truck serving tacos inside the stadium! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat!