MAMT 2017 – U7 Premiership Winners
SJ Black squad:
Ali Reza Damani
Muhammad Mahdi Govani
Rayyan Ali Merali
Coach: Ashiqali Damani and Hasnain Merali
Teamwork, Tenacity and Tornado-like
A fresh and rainy start to the Saturday morning didn’t deter our enthusiastic boys. Rather, all they needed was some bonding time over croissants and mandazis before the all-round high-fiving and words of encouragement began. The routine warm-up exercises followed pitch side with crowds of nervous parents and coaches looking on. The players however were relaxed, jovial and well equipped with kit accessories and all. But why so clam? Simple – tournament day was the natural conclusion of weeks and weeks’ worth of the player’s sheer hard work, carefully planned football drill practice, understanding of roles/positions and the solidification of each other’s trust on the pitch. The bond and togetherness of the group even before they’d kicked a ball was enough to demonstrate to the coaches that nothing would break the devotedness of this team – arms round each other, declaring their support for one another yet all the while cracking jokes to keep the atmosphere cheerful. Few minutes to go and the coach runs through the final re-cap of expectations and encouragement.
Group game 1 v/s Peterborough A
A packed fixture list that felt like the semis and finals were distant hope. However, the first encounter was the blue of Peterborough who looked well organised and prepped standing in their positions on the pitch before we even stepped onto the turf, as you’d expect from a home side keen to impress. However, SJFA Black walked in the arena with their chins high, walking in unison like well drilled soldiers and gave each other claps of encouragement before the battle begun. No overt cheering or squealing from any spectators or coaches, the air was nervous, still damp and you could almost hear the silent duas from all corners. A quick reminder of rules from the referee to the players and they were off. Although Peterborough were similar sized players we started slowly and not as physical on the ball as we should have been, 50/50 balls that should’ve been gobbled up and losing out on battles in the opposition’s half. Yes, the boys new their drills and game plans etc but needed the time to warm up and gel as a unit in their play. Three minutes of eight minutes gone and it was even across the pitch although, SJFA Black were keen to start capitalising the short throw offs from the keeper and start shooting on sight of the goal. Lone behold, the rain from the clouds lessened as the goals on the pitched reined in. SJFA dominated territorially and boom, there was the first goal, in the first MAMT and their first…. what’s this? Collective sajdah celebration? – Mo Farah style! You could tell, from here on in the players were eager to add to their goal tally just to experiment with the latest goal celebrations. No resting on laurels though, the team knew that goals scored as well as goal difference were also key factors in progressing. The team didn’t disappoint, surely it’s too early in the morning to be turning on the “pass and move” style play? Not this team, long rangers from Aliraza, bullish shots from Aadam and 1-2’s from Amaar and Zain to the parent’s delight. Although Mahdi was having a quiet time in goal, he was smiling ear to ear as he saw the quality of play unfolding in front of him. Ammar being the last man had pushed up to almost the half way line, such was the dominance! A hattrick from Aliraza and a goal from Aadam that resulted in great elation and relief from the Stanmore crowd.
Result: SJFA 4-0 Peterborough A
Group game 2 v/s Birmingham Green (A)
Adrenaline still on overflow or a case of over-confidence? We didn’t start well and we saw it coming from the opposition. It was obvious that the Birmingham coaches had studied us meticulously from the previous game. Stanmore coaches scratching their heads over tactical changes to counter Birmingham’s onslaught. Yes, we went a goal down early on but this was a key and defining moment of character for the team. Intense technical pre-tournament training is all well and good but you can’t re-enact such a predicament. The team knew they had to dig deep though, knowing that the mighty and intimidating Hayderi A were up next in the final group game. As the team brought the football back to the centre spot, neither did they blame one another nor drooped their heads. Instead rather proudly, they again clapped each other on and shouts of “come-on” gave the coaches comfort that this indeed is a team of hard working warriors that simply don’t give in. Slowly but surely again the Stanmore dominance restarted with shots firing in from all angles and play. Shots and goals being shared amongst the team and interchange of play and skilful one on ones that their defence and keeper couldn’t handle. Zain and Hassan coming on to sure up the defence in what in the end was a comfortable victory.
Result: SJFA 4-1 Birmingham Green (A)
Group game 3 v/s Hayderi A
It was obvious that this indeed was the key match of the tournament. The two best sides thus far going head to head aiming to lift the premiership trophy that was on offer. Hayderi’s star player duo were already being dubbed as the khoja Messi and Ronaldo, almost mimicking the hairstyles too! The game was close and very even and not for the faint hearted! End to end chances and goals, first Hayderi with a close range goal that surprised Stanmore’s defence, we just could contain their galacticos, (Hussein and Kara). Penalty to Stanmore though as Aadam steps up and surely this was the route back into the game…..Ah! great save by the keeper. Aadam head in his hands but the team tap his back in encouragement and they regroup and organise to start dominating the midfield, so much so that Stanmore begin getting a series of free-kicks. One of which was between the half way line and the opposition D. Aliraza steps up with his team mates strategically positioning themselves eagerly awaiting a key pass. Hold on though, that’s quite a run up sir!…..boom! a stonking long ranger from Stanmore’s box to box maestro, bottom corner and it was now game on! The kids were going wild with hope, if they could win this, surely it’s one hand on the trophy?! Although, no one ever writes off Hayderi, with you guessed it, a Hayderi pile driver from….the half way line?! Wow, these kids have special talent. This only fired up our team though, more goals followed with a stunning solo run and finish from Rayaan, another machine like belter from Aadam and an accurate finish from Aliraza. None of the attacking play could’ve been possible without the stern defending and composed passing from Mahdi, Zain and Amaar. Slowly but surely, minute by minute Stanmore knew they had secured the result and an easier semi-final match to follow. The team again showing great character and resilience to whack in the goals and close out the game. Hassan with a cameo appearance up front, a future star surely.
Result: SJFA 4-2 Hayderi A
Semi-final v/s Milton Keynes
Players were using their time-out to reminisce of their come backs and audacious efforts from range. Next up was the runner up from group B and naturally after such a memorable victory against the ballon dor’s of Hayderi, confidence was overflowing. Only three games thus far but the team were learning from miss-haps and listening attentively to their coaches for advice on where improvement could still be found. The coaches were proud to see that not only were our boys delivering on the pitch but conducted themselves superbly in manner and attentiveness. Few positional and personal changes were made to the team but being well drilled it caused no issues. From minute one SJFA dominated the match, swarming the opposition defence and goalkeeper like bees desperate for further honey. One goal after another rained in on MK’s goal. The mazy runs from midfield were a delight to watch with goals flying in from Aadam and Aliraza. Man of the match though was the ever improving Rayaan Merali with two efforts that even Wayne Rooney would’ve double taken on. One silky run and finish, followed by a knuckle shot that saw his whole body go airborne-Ouch! Keeper no chance. The goal scorers were then subbed but that still meant no rest for Milton Keynes as Zain and Hassan gave their defence yet more problems until the final whistle. Zain in particular showing some seriously silky skills! Solid performances again from Mahdi and Ammar who allowed their front men all freedom to play, the silent heroes!
Result: SJFA 6-0 Milton Keynes
Final v/s Hayderi A
Ah, we meet again respected rivals. They knew our game, we knew theirs. They knew our heroes, we knew theirs. We knew what the prize was, they wanted it too. Tension was high, atmosphere amongst parents was like a library before final exams. Out came the mini-whiteboards, tactic reminders, slogans, reminders of all the hard work that had gone into their training. Our players were pumped though and called out the willingness to man-mark and cancel out the game of the galacticos. Over cautious? Maybe, but there was too much at stake. Out of the ten minutes of the match, 5 of them were just jostling and exchanging play in midfield. Ammar, Mahdi and Rayaan again the stand-out defenders that never let anything pass them, (with only a few goals being conceded throughout the entire tournament?! – wow). Both teams had come with the same tactics, no one wanted to lose however, with the deadlock needing to be broken both sides began to venture and try. With only a few minutes left and the crowds becoming more and more anxious it was clear that whoever scored first would be likely to secure the victory. Then a significant moment arrived. Aadam dropped deep to unselfishly support Aliraza’s cause and from the corner of his eye saw him set free down the right-wing. A great little dinked pass to Aliraza who collected the ball and looked up whilst in full flow. Racing down the wing, he knew he had one last defender to shake off. He did so with a lovely drop the shoulder manoeuvre that saw the defender slide to the floor. With just the keeper to beat he audaciously slammed the ball in the bottom right of the goal with a swerving shot off the outside of his right foot. Elation! – the whole team running across the pitch towards the parents with their arms in the air screaming with joy! With Hayderi’s quality there was an expectancy of a comeback however the relentless Aadam struck once again in the last minute to secure a well-deserved two goal victory. When this team gets going it’s not just an onslaught, it’s a tornado! This is just the beginning of what is a great team unit and inshallah many more tournament victories to come. As always, the team took the time out to respectfully shake hands of not only all the opposition players but spoke with opposition coaches to exchange thanks and congratulations. A proud team, coaches and parents as the medal ceremony approached.
Result: SJFA 2-0 Hayderi A
Written by Coach Ashiqali Damani
MAMT TOURNAMENT – SJ BLUE – U7 PLATE RUNNER UP
Team Line up:
Muhammad Mahdi Hirji
Ammar Hussein Ravji
Hossain Habibi Nameghi
Coach: Murtaza Hameer
Group game 1: v/s Leicester – 0-0 Draw
Group game 2: v/s Hyderi B – 3-1 Win
Group game 3: v/s MK – 1-1 Draw
Group game 4: v/s Birmingham Blue – 0-0 Draw
Plate Semi-Final: v/s Birmingham Green – 2-0 Win
Plate Final: v/s Peterborough – 0-1 Lost
The boys arrived bright and early and after a hearty Nutella and mandazi/croissant breakfast they were rearing to go, and they never disappointed us. Their performances in each game was excellent, always giving extra, the akhlaq was exemplary. The team play and attitude to never give up was exceptional. Throughout the tournament, the team played really well, unbeaten all the way to the final. Even in the final the boys displayed excellent football dominating the game for majority of the period, pressing Peterborough’s defence but luck wasn’t on their side this time. They finished runners up in this tournament in the plate level.