Nervousness and excitement grew for Clovis North’s Fisayo and Femi Olukanni Jr., moments before the opening whistle of their soccer match against Edison High Tuesday.
The brothers, ages 14 and 17, are on the same team for the first time in their lives but for added drama were about to face their father, Femi Sr., the Edison head coach.
Femi Sr., now 48, was an All-America standout for Fresno State in the 1980s and played for the Nigerian national team as an attacking midfielder. He helped lead the Bulldogs to an NCAA Final Four finish in 1986.
But could anything help prepare the family for this?
“I woke up nervous and was all the way leading up to gametime,” Fisayo said.
Added Femi Jr.: “We’ve been talking about it a long time and (our dad) has been rubbing it in every day.”
So of course more trash talk was exchanged during the afternoon match, but all in good fun, Femi Sr. said.
“It’s been going on since I scheduled this game in early December,” he said. “Last week we talked more about it because it was closer to game time. I told them, ‘We’re going to kill you guys 3-1.’ “
But the sons had the last word in the family feud, at least on the field, while helping fuel the Broncos to a 1-0 nonleague win.
Will Bishop headed in a goal on a corner kick from Trey Sena in the 12th minute.
“He kept saying he was going to beat us and we didn’t let that happen,” Fisayo said.
Fisayo Olukanni, in the stopper position, continuously foiled the Tigers’ offensive attack. Femi Olukanni Jr. helped control the tempo, directing the ball through center midfield and creating runs for his strikers. He also received a yellow card late in the second half for a hard challenge.
The Tigers (5-4) started slowly, playing on the defensive for much of the first half before forcing a handful of goal-scoring opportunities in the second.
“It was a tough game,” Femi Jr. said. “The same exact style (Dad) wants us to play is the same style his team plays. This was the most physical game we’ve played this year.”
Coach Chad McCarty of Clovis North (6-3-1) is reminded of his days watching Femi Sr. at Fresno State while McCarty now coaches the sons.
“He is probably one of the best players to play here in the Central Valley and it’s no different with his boys,” McCarty said. “They both have a natural understanding of how the game is played. It’s in their blood.”
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