On a cloudy Sunday morning in north west London, volunteers had gathered in Northwood School to help set up the most anticipated tournament of 2021. The Community Cup was finally here. After setting up the pitch, gazebos and mic system, the participants had arrived raring to go. Once the players were briefed, the stage set, and whistles blown, we had kick off with goals flying in left, right, and centre.
As the group stage drew to a close, it was Sweden and Spain who topped their groups with 10 & 11 points, respectively. England, Wales and Belgium qualified for the cup in group A , alongside Sweden whilst Portugal and France went through to the plate. In group B, Croatia, Germany and the Netherlands made it through to the knockout rounds with Spain, Italy and Hungary dropping to the plate.
The first round of quarter finals was played just before lunch with all 3 games going to penalties. Croatia and the Netherlands emerged victorious over Wales and Sweden, with England finally beating Germany in a penalty shootout too.
After namaaz, it was time for the remaining quarter final and the 2 plate semi finals. Belgium caught Spain off guard, with Abbas Rattansi scoring his second hattrick of the tournament against the winners of group B, sending Belgium through. Meanwhile in the plate, Hungary prevailed on penalties after a 2-2 draw in normal time. Italy were also beaten by France in the other plate semi final, setting the scene for a Hungary vs France final.
The cup semi final then took place, with Belgium taking on Croatia on pitch 3 and England taking on the Netherlands on pitch 1. Both games were looking to go to penalties, before Murtaza Merali, Croatia’s captain and Talisman put his team ahead in the dying moments, sending them through to the finals. The Netherlands found success on penalties again, booking their ticket to the final after some heroics from their goalkeeper Mohamed-Zamin Jamal.
The plate final was a one sided affair with Hungary showing their dominance throughout. Led by their top goalscorer Zuhair Teja, who scored twice in this game, the score finished 4-0 to Hungary, giving them the honour of being plate champions.
It was then time for the main event, the cup final. Both teams were ready to go, in what was a cagey affair. Both keepers showed great concentration to keep their teams in it as both made crucial saves in the dying moments. The final whistle blew , setting the stage for the ultimate penalty shoot-out. Neither team missed their first 3 penalties, which brought it to sudden death, where a save from Mohamed-Zamin Jamal prevented Croatia from prolonging the shootout and crowned the Netherlands champions of the Community Cup!
For the other awards on the day, Abbas Rattansi was the winner of the Golden Boot award with 6 goals and Muhammed-Zayn Kalyan kept 5 clean sheets, helping him bring home the Golden Glove Award.
On a day forecast to be wet and thunderous, it was the Community Cup which took the day by storm as goals rained down at Northwood School.
Salaams and Duas