SJFA U12 v Bushey Rangers

Qaim-Ali Ravji (GK)
Ali Hadi Govani (C )
Yousuf Datoo
Hassan Merali Dewji
Zia Dewji
Ali Khatau
Mohammed Baqir Lilani
Husayn Yahya Merali
Ali Sheikh
Jameel Walji
Mohammed Mahdi Janmohamed
Coach: Nazir Dewji

An extremely wet afternoon brought our very own Mourinho and a fantastic U12s team to Queens School for a 9-a-side away match versus Bushey Rangers. Our boys in red were not put off by the size of the opposition and couldn’t wait to kick-off. The sheer determination on their faces was evident!

SJFA started with a 3-2-2-1 formation and within seconds realised that this was going to be a testing game.  Ali Hadi captained the side with great encouragement and could be seen controlling the defence. The ball seemed to stick in that third for what felt like hours. Our defence of Ali Sheikh and Mohammed Baqir  Lilani with every bit of strength and skill fought the blues bravely off. A penalty was given to the Blues. Although the reds were disappointed, they patted Qaim Ali on the back, whispered some prayers and confidently waited for the outcome. The ball flew miles over the bar. We had been saved!

SJFA’s heads did not drop and the midfield boys; Zia, Hassan, Yousuf and Husayn Yahya tried to get more involved with tackles and passes finally going their way but Bushey Rangers kept pressing and kept bombarding Qaim Ali with shot after shot. He was outstanding! (David De Gea would have had some competition here). However, the Blues aggression paid off and they scored three quick goals.

SJFA woke up and picked up the pace. A great goal kick, a miss-header by the Blues fell on to the feet of Hassan MD who was then faced with a 1 on 1 with the keeper but not phased at all, chipped it over the goalie in a very cool manner. GOAL! The reds were delighted but their celebration was cut short by the coach reminding them to focus and take the centre kick as quick as possible.

The whistle blew for the end of the first third and Nazir got into action preaching tactics and encouragement in his usual serious manner! It was a pleasure watching him in action too!

The second third witnessed some stout defending from the whole team and in particular Ali Sheikh outshone, never gave up, booted the ball away and wasn’t phased in the slightest. Yousuf, Tommy and the brave Ali Khatau put the attack off with no fear and this third remained goal-less for what seemed like a long time. The reds had a few great passes over the blue midfield and they synced together like a team who had played together for more than a few months and was a joy to watch. The Blues goalie had to actually focus this third and make a few saves. The pride and satisfaction on the coaches face said it all as our team as our team held their own. However, Bushey Rangers made a couple of substitutions and the fresh pair of legs was a bit too much of a challenge and two goals were scored against us in quick succession.

The whistle blew – we couldn’t believe another third had gone by so quickly and we were itching to come back into action. The reds knew they had it in them to score another.

They were right – a great pass to Jameel on the wing just after the half-way line, he picked up the pace, looked up and carried out a David Beckham like kick which chipped the goalkeeper and comfortably found its place at the back of the net. GOAL!!! The reds did a quick huddle to congratulate the hero and were back into action. Showing our skill once again, Husayn Yahya (having by now replaced the injured Lilani in defence), Ali Sheikh and Govani controlled the defence like their life depended on it with courageous challenges. Quick note on Husayn Yahya who willingly volunteered to shift into a defensive position which he had never played before and performed outstandingly making both his coach and his dad very proud.  Likewise to Lilani how was obviously hurt but still came back on for the final third.   The noticeable thing was how the team talked to each other now, yelling instructions, encouragement and covering each other’s space when required couldn’t be missed. We went down a couple of goals from deflected passes. Our stamina was starting to flake and the weather wasn’t helping but with a few instructions from the side line we were back to our best and the Blues goalkeeper had to wake up again as Hassan MD nearly chipped him again. Zia had figured out where the goalie would pass too and swiftly intercepted the kick and aimed for the net but the football stubbornly bounced on the edge of the line and missed by an inch. Qaim-Ali made some more stunning saves and after one more blues goal the final whistle was blown.

Our players may not have matched the physique of their counterparts, some barely reaching the shoulders of the Blues. But with their positive attitude and learned ability they still managed to give them a run for their money.

The passion of these boys was there for all to see and despite the result of 8-2, they were not downhearted, a tad bit frustrated maybe and very wet! Overall, it was a very encouraging performance and the progress from the last few games was clear to see as noted by the parents and coaches of Bushey Rangers who applauded our team and said they had no doubt we could win the return game.

Fatema Dewji