Stanmore Black 1-0 Milton Keynes
Stanmore Black 2-0 Stanmore Green
Stanmore Black 3-0 Leicester
Stanmore Black 0-0 Hyderi
Stanmore Black 0-0 Stanmore Blue
Stanmore Black 0-1 Leicester (Semi Final)
Shahid Abbas Jaffer (C)
Arif Bandali (Coach)
There was a sense of excitement as we all gathered on one of the pitches to hear the final instruction from the head referee. We then made our way to the pitch where we would play all our games. Whilst doing our pre-match warm up routine, I could see the players discussing the forthcoming games in our tough group and what we would need to do to navigate through it. As the coach of this team, it was great to see their commitment.
Shahid Abbas Jaffer, the captain of this team of dedicated players has given his thoughts on the tournament:
Stanmore Black had managed to put together a strong squad despite the loss of many key players to injury and to being a year older so no longer being eligible. Many of the teams had never played together before, with 5 new faces in the team, the boys took a bit of time to adjust to each other and understand each others’ game. Half of the team were playing in a highly competitive under 18s category for the first time, however, the players showed their tactical nous and ability by quickly settling into the system set up by coach Arif Bandali. After a few training sessions, a match against a very strong adults team was set up, and after a shaky start, a mature and tenacious performance from the team resulted in a 4-2 win after coming twice from behind.
In good spirits, the team entered the tournament on Saturday with their mindsets calm and composed, and put in a very strong performance before lunch, sitting in second place, off the top only on goals scored. Lunch almost seemed to come at the wrong time for the team, as we never really got back into our stride after lunch, with back to back games against Stanmore Blue and Hyderi finishing 0-0 and resulting in a second place finish, 2 points off the top. The semi final game against Leicester, whom we had beaten 3-0 in the group stages, seemed to perhaps daunt the team as we never really settled in, and a well worked move from Leicester resulted in Stanmore Black conceding our first and only goal of the tournament, which ultimately knocked us out of the competition.
The team were all very disappointed and despaired at the result, as we really felt we had the ability and potential to go all the way this year. Despite the nervous performance in the semi final, the team performed very well throughout the day and each player merited their inclusion with strong performances when called upon. The younger members of the team will learn from this and become better, hoping to bring back the U18 trophy which has somehow evaded us recently.
Stanmore Blue 0-0 Birmingham
Stanmore Blue 0-0 Milton Keynes
Stanmore Blue 3-0 Stanmore Green
Stanmore Blue 1-0 Leicester
Stanmore Blue 0-1 Hyderi
Stanmore Blue 0-0 Stanmore Black
Stanmore Blue 0-0 Hyderi
Lost 4-2 on pens.
Abbas Kermalli (C)
Hussein Pirbhai (Coach)
Not having worked with this group of players until the day of the tournament I was impressed by the positive mentality of the squad and their focus. On the pitch the boys showed great team ethics and I can’t remember a single moment where they let each other down. Having said that a lot of thanks has to go to Arif Bandali and Mustafa Ramji on the way they have trained the teams and teaching them their duties on the pitch not just going forward but defensively.
Having drawn three games 0-0, it was difficult to take for me and the boys especially as all three results should have warranted wins if it wasn’t down to exceptional goalkeeping on the day. Massive positive was only conceding one goal in the tournament which was an error and could have easily been avoided, nevertheless. This showed how the boys have picked up on being compact defensively and making them hard to beat in training.
Unfortunately the tournament came to an end against Hyderi, the eventual winners, on penalties in the semi finals…. Credit to the boys for a battling performance during the game where they held their own and bettered the results from the group stages. This type of spirit and team ethos should place these boys in good stead for the future and I can only see good things to come from them.
Stanmore Black 2-0 Stanmore Green
Stanmore Green 1-2 Milton Keynes
Stanmore Green 0-3 Stanmore Blue
Peterborough 3-1 Stanmore Green
Stanmore Green 0-5 Hyderi
Kashif Fazli (C)
Mustafa Ramji (Coach)
Much of Stanmore Green’s squad faced the challenge of a first year in the highly competitive Under 18s category. However, the players showed great tactical maturity and displayed their competitive spirit by continuing to fight throughout the tournament, despite the challenging circumstances. In the first few games, results were close and lost only through wonder strikes from the opposition. Halfway through however, the loss of excellent goalkeeper Mujtaba Govani meant that outfield players were forced to fill in. Going forward, the team improved through the tournament, using space wisely to counterattack. This was certainly a learning experience for an inexperienced coach and squad, who look forward to learning and improving in the upcoming season.