On the morning of Sunday 13th November, SJFA Tier 5 faced Belmont FC in their first ever 11 aside match. It began with an impeccably followed minute silence, marking respect to British soldiers, alive and fallen.
In a fast and aggressive start, Belmont were quicker to settle, but SJ players maintained their resolve, preventing Belmont creating any clear cut chances. Central defenders Abbas Datoo and Muhammad Gulamhussein and defensive midfielder Mohammed Abbas Lilani remaining strong. A well rehearsed corner routine and an unfortunate deflection led to Belmont opening the scoring. They extended their lead through another corner, putting Belmont 2 ahead. The SJ players settled on the ball, with much of the attacking play coming down the right hand side. Some notable saves from SJ keeper Ali Abbas Dossa kept his team in the game until yet another unfortunate deflection put Belmont further ahead.
The SJ players came out swinging, with Mahdi Ladha and Ammar Jetha pressing the opposition defence into mistakes. As SJ imposed themselves on the game, Jetha’s constant hassling led to Belmont giving away a penalty. Mahdi Ladha’s thunderous penalty drew SJ closer and instilled more confidence as half time drew close. Moments before the whistle, Mahdi Ladha put a teasing ball into the box, Zaamin Valjy missing the ball by inches.
As the second half got underway, SJ shuffled the pack and continued where they left the second half. As Belmont were forced into mistakes, SJ came close to goal scoring chances, just lacking the final ball. Belmont’s well-drilled pressing and passing put SJ on the back foot again. Following two spectacular strikes from Belmont, spaces opened up, allowing Belmont to put another couple past SJ keeper Ali Abbas Dossa, despite numerous saves. SJ remained gutsy, causing havoc in the opposition area a couple of times. As the game drew to a conclusion, the resilience carries troughout the game was most visible in full backs Jawad Khatau and Irfan Kanji, who was nursing an injury. Skill from Muhammad Jawad Virjee and Muntazir Ramji in midfield had parents purring, as Abbasali they realised Gulamhussein on the right. A final Belmont goal ended the game.
The game finished 8-1 to Belmont, but was perhaps unrepresentative of the performance of a gutsy SJ team who had lost key defensive players hours before kick-off. A learning curve indeed for a team yet to get accustomed to the rigour of 11 aside football.
SJFA Manager, Tier 5