Asad Ali Bandali
A few months ago SJFA were entertained and hosted by IGK. This weekend it was the turn of SJFA to reciprocate. Of course we didn’t have our own grounds to host them at but we managed to seek refuge at our spiritual home away from home at The Hive. Similar to the mighty Spurs at Wembley, we seem to struggle in these surroundings and the opposition tend to thrive.
The coach sent his team out in an orthodox 2-2-1 which for the 1st quarter turned into a group of four similar to that of a finger-four formation sent to war. Unfortunately, for the first 10 minutes they forgot about the ball and were sadly 2-0 down, and probably lucky not to be down by even more.
Some words of wisdom and some tweaking by the coach saw our boys settle down for the second quarter and finally start to pass to each other, make tackles, even managing to muster half a shot on goal. In between all of this, IGK managed to grab themselves a third goal and were now three up. A positive sign was that the boys never let their heads drop and kept plugging away.
A side note for this quarter was that the referee morphed into Mark Clattenburg and started creating his own rules – the first point of order was to move the corner 5 yards in at which point IGK nearly scored again!
So at half-time, the boys found themselves 3-0 down and the coach really had to think hard about what to tell them to encourage them. At this point he turned to the side lines and sought knowledge and inspiration from a Pochettino-type Guru. After this inspiring moment, the boys were sent out and started winning challenges, pressing from the front, and being first to the ball. Every pass was made to another red shirt and finally some shots were being taken. Before you knew it, Deen was racing down the wing and slotting it into the far corner. SJ had scored and the massive crowd of three went wild! SJ continued to pass well, and despite conceding another goal, they were right back in this game. Another imposing attack between Yacine and Husayn straight through the IGK defence led Yacine to slot the ball past their keeper. The third quarter ended with SJFA winning 2-1, though overall down 4-2.
Going into the final quarter needed some more tinkering by the coach – now abandoned by his guiding light, Pochettino, on the sidelines. He proceeded to send his team out again with the right ethos. They were to pass, and press the opposition. Unfortunately, by now, the players were tiring while the depth of the IGK squad had started to show, and before they knew it, our boys were 3-0 down . Again they kept their heads up and continued to attack IGK – Husayn popping up with a consolation goal, though still not too great a joy for him and his team mates.
Overall it was a rather disappointing 7-3 defeat against an IGK side that were similar in stature. It took the lads some time to settle down, and though they certainly showed heart and promise at times, concentration levels do need to be better, especially if we are not to concede silly goals. Special mention goes out to the ref, Mark Clattenburg who, after having made numerous dubious decisions, is now moving to China, having signed a long term contract to referee there.
By: U8 Parent