SJFA U14 v AFC Wembley

Manager: Abbas Merali
Ali Abbas (GK)
Haider Virjee
Abbas Datoo
Sajjadali Janmohamed
Mohamed Abbas Lilani
Irfaan Kanji
Muhammad Jawad Virjee (C)
Muntazir Ramji
Jawad Khatau
Abbasali Gulamhussein
Abid Karawali
Owais Mawjee
Ammar Jetha
Mahdi Ladha

On Saturday 28th January 2017, SJ were playing away against a very strong-looking AFCW team. SJ in their crimson red t-shirts got the game underway from the centre spot.

From the beginning AFCW showed their dominance by passing the ball around well and winning most tackles. Due to this high possession and pressure, the first goal was scored quite early on by AFCW with a sweet strike into the top right hand corner. SJ did not let their heads drop and almost scored from a brilliant attack, however the keeper was equal to Mahdi’s goal bound strike. Although they were playing some nice football, our boys still had not settled and were very nervous.

The second goal for AFCW was a brilliant attack down the right; SJ did not clear their lines and this resulted in another good strike which ended up in the back of the net.

Even though it was 2 – 0, the boys in red did not give up, and began to settle into the game much quicker. A few quick passes and good possession got the manager bouncing and shortly after, SJ scored. Abbasali ran with the ball and slid it through to Mahdi, who smashed it into the back of the net. This was a critical stage in the game for the boys because they had just come back into the game. There would have been another goal closely behind from Mohammed Abbas’ brilliant overhead kick clearance of the line. The whole pitch was stunned and the opposing manager could not believe it.

It’s funny how one goal can change the game because now SJ had all the momentum and AFCW were looking slightly pressured. The SJ boys used this to their advantage and scored another brilliant goal. Abid collected the ball from MJ and passed it through to Mahdi. Mahdi with his quick feet beat two of the opposing players and hit the ball into the top left. It was a brilliant team goal. This goal had given an even bigger boost to the SJ boys.  During this period of play, the defence were very strong and did not let anything through. Sajjadali and Abbas remained steady as the big built CB, Mohammed Abbas and Jawad kept their line and did not let the wingers go past them.

After a stern talking to from their coach, the AFCW players came straight out of the blocks and nicked two goals of their own. One being a counter attack and another a penalty.

The SJ players looked down and out but somehow kept on playing, and after a solid period of possession they got their reward. Irfaan made a brilliant run and Muntazir picked him out. Irfaan then continued his run with the ball and squared it to Mahdi, who ruthlessly smashed the ball into an almost empty net. You could see the happiness on the manager’s face and the goal was very well deserved.

The SJ players were getting tired, and this called for a string of subs from the gaffer. Although the 20 mins were up according to our manager, the referee insisted that there were still 12 minutes left. In that time, AFCW scored 5 more goals and the SJ boys scored one, set up expertly by Ammar and scored by Mahdi.

The score was now 9 – 4 and the SJ boys were almost dead and buried. But this did not stop them fighting. With 20 minutes left to play, MJ (the skipper) and the gaffer gave us a few words of wisdom and the SJ boys were ready to give everything to salvage this match.

The last quarter began with the boys on a high. Muntazir dispossessed their number 10 with a crunching tackle and now SJ were on the break. It was 3 on 2. Muntazir gave the ball to Ammar. Ammar then gave it to Irfaan who ran with it. After a very long run, he teed up Abbasali on the edge of the box. Abbasali then spotted Mahdi on the edge of the D. Unfortunately, Mahdi was fouled and we were given a free kick on the edge of the D. Mahdi brushed of the mud and took responsibility for the free kick. He lined it up like a young Messi and dipped it over the wall. The ball took a very dodgy deflection and flew into the goal just above the keeper’s reach. This renewed the boys’ belief, and after a sharp restart they were back again attacking the opposing goal.

Over the next 10 minutes, SJ were piling on the pressure and played very well. As a result of this they got 3 beautifully worked goals. The first was from Jawad who made a brilliant run into the box and just poked it past the keeper. The second was a penalty which was won by Owais, MJ was unable to convert the penalty, but Muntazir prodded home the rebound. The third was a stunning run from MJ into the box, who ran through most of the team and pinged it into the far post with his weaker foot. The SJ boys were back in the game and the manager was bouncing up and down on the side-line. The score was now 9 – 8 to AFCW and this set up a very interesting last 5 minutes.

The clock was ticking and AFCW were looking quite nervous as the gaffer told the players to pounce, which is exactly what MJ and Mahdi did. After a few one-twos, Mahdi fizzed into the box and Muntazir managed to get a toe on it, to just scramble the ball into the back of the net.

The game ended with a thrilling 9 – 9 draw. I don’t think anyone expected SJ to pull it back. To put in to simpler words SJ did a Liverpool against Milan back in 2005, but to a much greater extent.

It just shows what hard work, good effort and resilience does. In the end the boys learned a thing or two, but the main thing they learned was never to give up and to show their fighting spirit.

1st quarter – 2 – 0
2nd quarter – 1 – 2
3rd quarter – 6 – 2
4th quarter – 0 – 5

Written by Abbasali Gulamhussein.
Tier 5