ONLY ONE team could take the bragging rights and that was Team Caribbean after they won the inaugural AFCAR game, 4-1 on penalties at Brentford’s Griffin Park stadium.
Team Africa had spent most of the build up letting everyone know it was theirs for the taking, but they were left humbled in front of 6,000 spectators at Brentford FC’s Griffin Park ground on Bank Holiday Monday.
The match and family day saw a collaboration between the Jason Roberts Foundation and the Sodje Sports Foundation, drew supporters in with music, food and competitions for people of all ages.
Team Africa started the game brightly, with Nigeria legend and former Bolton Wanderers player Jay-Jay Okocha, showing that form is temporary, but class is permanent with a succession of top tekkers. So it was a surprise for the Friends of Africa XI to concede first, with ex-Charlton striker Kevin Lisbie the man to hit the target with an unstoppable shot from 20 yards.
Like the whole day, the game was light-hearted and fun although Dion Dublin had the misfortune to pop his collar-bone out after going up for a headed challenge.
DJ Spoony and comedian Eddie Kadi provided hilarious and banter-filled match commentary, but having seen Kadi on the pitch during the second-half, he might want to stick to working with microphones over footballs in the future!
Among those playing for the teams were actor Chucky Venn, soul sensation Omar and reggae legend, Maxi Priest; with the latter surprising many of the spectators with his fancy footwork.
Unsurprisingly it was that man Okocha that levelled the scores from the penalty spot to get Team Africa back into the game. There could have been more goals but some players had clearly forgotten their shooting boots, with several chances flying over the crossbar and ending up in the stands.
With the game ending 1-1, there was nothing left to do but take penalties. Team Caribbean had obviously been knocking back the Super Malt as they romped to a 4-1 win.
Overall it was a great day, and showed the African and Caribbean community at it’s best, uniting to raise funds for two special charities – the ACLT and the Damilola Taylor Trust.
But best of all – for this writer anyway – Team Caribbean won and they will ensure Team Africa have no chance of forgetting that fact over the next 12 months!
Written by Natasha Henry at Griffin Park for the Voice Newspaper