SJFA U13 v St Albans Rangers

The squad was managed by the tier manager, Mohammed Valjy:-
Imran Chandoo
Ali-Abbas Dossa (GK)
Muhammed Gulamhussein
Jawad Khatau (c)
Irfaan Kanji
Sajjad Sabir
Shaidali Suteria
Zaamin Valjy
Sami Hussein Jaffer
Ali Jaganathan

Alhamdulillah, on the 26 November 2017, a further milestone was etched in the SJFA history books when the under 13’s (Tier 5) met St Albans Rangers in the first ever “home” game for the SJFA. Inshallah there will be many more to come as we continue on this amazing journey.

It was a sunny but fresh afternoon when the boys arrived at the Hive for the 12.30pm meeting time. As the Coach performed his obligatory but belated Zohr prayers, Irfan Kanji, warmed up the players. With the prayers and warm up completed the boys worked on a couple of defensive and set piece drills to prepare them for the unknown Hertfordshire opponents. After the usual pleasantries between the two well aged coaches and the impeccable line up handshakes between the players (unlike you see on Eid day) the match kicked off at 1.30pm.

The coach had 3 key priorities, it was not, as Tony Blair once said, EDUCATION, EDUCATION EDUCATION but rather PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE and that is exactly what St Albans received from the outset. The SJ coach was aware of the ability of the boys but what was lacking, at times, during training was the intensity required to unsettle the opposition. Wow, did the Jaffrey boys deliver this time round.

Both sets of teams started well but it was the Jaffrey boys who were the quickest out of the blocks and snapped at the heels of the opposition. With support from the parents, the midfielders put the opposition under constant pressure. Zaamin Valjy and Irfaan Kanji had an abundance of determination and a great work ethic that was clearly visible on the pitch. One parent from the opposition team commented “they are like a couple of Rottweilers ” – which the coach took as a complement!

Back to the match, Jawad Khatau, was instrumental in the middle of the pitch, he was always first to the ball and never missed a header. When Stanmore Jaffreys did not have the ball Jawad would break down the St Albans’s play. With excellent support from Muhammed Gulamhussein the ball was always distributed among the midfielders or the lone striker.

The strikers had two clear instructions; 1. Do not give defenders any time on the ball and 2. Score! Sajjad Shabir did exactly that and did this coach proud. St Albans could not deal with the constant pressure and Sajjad came close on a couple of chances in the first half. During the first half the coach gave Sajjad a break and brought on Imran Chandoo. The breakthrough came through shortly after. A pass from midfield went straight to the goalkeeper and as Imran ran down the ball, the sign of a good striker, he blocked the clearance and the ball ended up in the goal. Stanmore Jaffreys were deservedly 1 nil up and had the breakthrough.

The second goal came shortly after the breakthrough. The pressure was now taking a toll on the opposition. From another attack, the ball came to the midfield maestro, Irfaan Kanji, outside the penalty box and he calmly but confidentially side footed the ball into an empty goal. 2 nil up and the boys were ecstatic as well as their parents.

During the half time break, the coach emphasised the need to keep the pressure on and to expect the opposition to come out fighting in the second half. That is exactly what they did, but this is where the trio of defenders come in. Ali Jaganthan, Shaidali Suteria and Sami Hussein Jaffer together with the goalkeeper, Ali-Abbas Dossa performed their role well by keeping a clean sheet. They defended well and at one stage Ali Jaganthan connected with the ball so well that it had to be retrieved from adjoining pitch!

The third goal showed the determination the team had. Once again the midfield broke down the St Albans play and Muhammed Gulamhussein passed the ball to Zaamin Valjy. With his small frame, he end up on the floor but somehow managed to pass the ball to Irfaan Kanji. A quick exchange and they were through on goal, with a hint of offside, Zaamin slotted in the third goal. 3 nil!

The fourth goal was another through ball from midfield and Irfaan Kanji ran onto it confidently. Not only did he go around the goalkeeper but from a tight angle had the technical ability to finish it. What a great goal….even some of the SJ coaches would have been proud of that finish.

With 15 minutes of the match left, the coach brought on Ali Datoo’s fresh legs to replace Muhammed Gulamhussin to provide additional support for Jawad Khatau who had literally covered every blade of the synthetic grass. Ali Datoo did exactly that and nearly got the fifth goal at the end.

The match finished 4 nil. A great performance and a well deserved win. The reward at the end was a chance to see Barnet v Grimsby at home straight after the match. The coach and home spectators were exhausted and were in desperate need of some garam chai! (please note Zeeshan for next time!)

Mohamed Valjy
Manager, Tier 5, U13/14