Husayn Ali Abbas Ismail
Muhammad Mahdi Panju (GK)
It was a cold frosty Saturday morning, hats and coats were a plenty, but, the sun was out and SJFA Under 12s were full of smiles and enthusiasm for the return match against AVA Football Academy that we had played and lost to only a few weeks ago.
The team was set-up to play in a 1-3-1-3-1 formation when we had possession of the ball and a 1-3-3-1-1 when the opposition had the ball.
SJFA started off the brighter of the 2 teams. We dominated the first 10 minutes with Ali Dewji’s long shot and Ali Khatau’s close range effort going close.
AVA then started to have more possession and moved the ball quickly on the break from defence to attack, but, our defensive trio of Alireza Hameer, Shaahid (AP) and Ali-Rayhan Merali who were protected by our tenacious tough tackling defensive midfielder Jabir Walji stayed solid protecting our keeper Muhammad Mahdi Panju. One such tackle by Jabir led to him winning the ball and passing it to Sami Merali, who was playing in the centre of midfield, who played Ali Khatau through for our first goal – 1-0!
Soon after another wonderful move saw Sami played in to lob the keeper, unfortunately, the goal was ruled out for offside.
AVA continued to prove a threat on the break, and one such break saw them equalise with the ball just squeezing underneath our keeper – 1-1. This gave AVA confidence and they scored again soon after. We conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box and they scored beating the wall and the keeper – 2-1. Yasin Merali and Husayn Ismail came on to freshen things up and give Mohamedmahdi (Tommy) and Ali Khatau a well deserved break.
The half-time whistle went and we were undeservedly losing 2-1.
Instead of the boys being disheartened they remained upbeat and positive. We continued how we started the first half, positive and on the front foot. Yasin, was like a young Ryan Giggs on the left, taking on defenders, beating them with some tricks and pace, it was wonderful to see! We had a few attempts before Ali Dewji’s shot was saved by the keeper, only for Yasin to be in the right place at the right time to score – 2-2!
AVA then come straight back at us and Goalkeeper Panju pulls off two outstanding saves before they eventually score – 3-2 to AVA.
I brought Tommy back on and moved Ali Dewji upfront. Tommy then crosses for Sami who scores to make it 3-3. This was an exciting game with a lot of quality on show. AVA came at us again, but, this time it was our turn to win the ball and break giving Ali Khatau a great opportunity and he made no mistake, 4-3 to us – back in the lead!
Unfortunately, after we took the lead Sami was kicked by an opposing player off the ball out of frustration, the player was sent off. Sami had to come off as he was now limping.
Ali Dewji then provided some of his magic by having a shot hitting the underside of the bar from outside of the area, we all looked at the ref hoping his watch would be buzzing, no goal line technology unfortunately! Ali soon made sure though, he received the ball outside of the area from a mistake by the opposing keeper whilst trying to clear the ball, Ali ghosted past the defender and shot to score the fifth – 5-3.
Alireza Hamir then made a run from the right side of defence, going past a couple of players, crosses to Sami, who came back on for the last few minutes, flicks it square past the keeper for Ali Khatau to tap in to make it 6-3. Beautiful football!
AVA scored a consolation goal the last few minutes. Final score 6-4
We played a good positive brand of football, the boys stayed focused, followed instructions and worked hard of the ball. I was also very proud of the level of Akhlaq that was shown by our boys, especially by Sami who was on the receiving end of the kick and also a few other verbal incidents, to his credit Sami just walked away on each occasion, well done Sami and all the boys on a well deserved and impressive victory.