Date: 7th October
Venue: Northwood School, Pinner Rd, Nothwood HA6 1QN
· Yusuf Athmani
· Muhammad Mahdi Govani
· Hossein Habibi
· Amaar Karawalli
· Rayaan Merali
· Ammar Ravji
SJFA in their normal attire lined up against a Hendon FC in their full green kit, shaded slightly darker than the Northwood astro turf. SJFA was cognisant of the calibre and skills of our visitors from North-West London from the last encounter in February at their Silver Jubilee Park home ground.
Hendon FC has an illustrious history, formed in 1908, and with the name changed four (!) times over the past century. Furthermore, the club featured in the 1955 Amateur Final at Wembley and in the early 1950s Hendon became the first team in Britain to win a floodlit cup tie when they won a London Challenge Cup match against Arsenal at Highbury.
Reverting attention back to the U8s fixture on 7th October 2017, Coach Khatau wanted to ensure a tight defence including not allowing the taller and more powerful opponents to shoot from distance. Atmani, Habibi, Merali and Govani were part of the squad earlier this year with the Ammar (Ravji and Karawalli) combination about to taste the flavour of the green force and at the same time share the red vigour.
Hendon soon realised that it would require something special to combat the ferocious determination of Karawalli. His reading of the game, ability to intercept and “no-fear” attitude was one of the main reason for the splendid first two quarters by SJFA. Ammar has displayed these fine qualities in previous games as well and it would not surprise us if he has studied videos of former Italian star sweeper Baresi. An equally applaudable performance in the first quarter was demonstrated by Govani in goal, especially the stunning dive and save on Hendon’s first shot on goal inspired the Italian (well almost) named keeper to follow up with several saves throughout the first 10 minutes only to capitulate on a rebound in the dying seconds. Mahdi continued with a stable performance in the second quarter but was defeated twice more as Hendon stepped up their pressure quarter by quarter. In line with the rotation approach in this tier Mahdi joined the defence with Habibi taking over the red and white Sondico gloves in the 3rd quarter acting as a wall stopping the green shots from all possible angles and distances. It was only towards the end of the quarter where Hossein had to surrender following a tsunami of green waves. Hossein rotated once again in the last quarter and showed throughout the game his ability to feature on positions across the field with colourful deliveries on all fronts. A further component in the SJFA defence line without any fear or apprehension was clearly illustrated by Ravji. If the Hendon players knew the names they would certainly remember Ammar, as Ravji was equally determined to display passion and determination. Giving great support to Ammar K with his 110% commitment was a contributing factor to the battles in the midfield during the first three quarters. Earlier this week, Robben announced his retirement from international football however we can predict many bright years ahead for the SJFA U8 Rayyan “Robben” Merali who showed pace combined with skills throughout the game. Despite the high level of pressure from Hendon, Rayyan took every opportunity possible to irritate and pester the visitors, coming close to scoring a number of times. Rayyan’s performance was equally reflected in Athmani’s drive and enthusiasm probably inspired by Ronaldo and his mode of play. Repeatedly challenging the green defence line with his skills and strength afforded him a number of chances to keep SJFA in the game especially during the first 2 quarters, finally getting reward for his efforts towards the end of the game. Whilst trying their utmost to score goals, both Rayyan and Yusuf provided support without fail even in the defensive half.
Period 1: SJFA (0) – Hendon FC (1)
Period 2: SJFA (0) – Hendon FC (2)
Period 3: SJFA (0) – Hendon FC (1)
Period 4: SJFA (1) – Hendon FC (5)
Written by: U8 Parent