SJFA U14 v Indian Gymkhana

The squad was managed by the tier manager, Mohammed Valjy:-
Muhammed Virji (c)
Haider Virji
Ammarali Jehta
Sajjadali Janmohamed
Abbasali Gulamhussein
Abbas Datoo
Muntazir Ramji
Ali-Abbas Dossa (GK)
Jawad Khatau
Zaamin valjy
Mohammed Abbas Lilani
Irfaan Kanji

The coach had a restless night before the IG fixture. He got up early and had to make two important decisions before the morning kick off. Was it going to be poached or scramble eggs and should he take a risk with his line up? He went for the healthy option and as Del Boy once said, he who dares, wins!

As always before a fixture, the coach would collaborate with his fellow coaches. He had total respect for them, even Hussein Pirbhai. It was actually a WhatsApp conversation with his prodigy, Mustafa Ramji, that gave him the idea to mix it up. Mustafa Ramji is one of the young and upcoming coaches that youngsters in the community could follow his example and help the SJFA set up. Like the head coach Mustafa Ramji is a great defender and has a footballing brain to go with it.

The IG sports venue and the hospitality that came with it was a credit to the community. The facilities were amazing, the set up included not only football but also hockey and cricket. In addition there was a gym and wellbeing facilities. As always within an Asian community set up the venue included a place to consume samosas and pakoras with that much loved hot chai. This is the future…..

The day started with a group photo consisting of players, coaches and supporters, and then everyone observing a minute silence in honour of the Chapoconese players who died on the way to Colombia for a cup game.
The coach spent 45 minutes with his players to go through the usual suspect drills. The key message to the boys “show your gaffa how really good you think you are” It was about time they executed his vision. The vision was simple – 100% work rate and some of you will not be surprised that PRESSURE played a big part of that vision.

When the match kicked off the SJ players were like greyhounds (metaphorically speaking) sprinting out of their starting boxes. They were clearly on a mission which in this case was not impossible. They went at the IG players in full force as if they had a point to prove to their gaffa.

The SJ boys had most of the possession. They were quicker on the ball and put some nice moves together and came close a couple of times. A third into the first half a quick exchange between the midfielders led to Ammar Jetha receiving the ball, with his back to the defender, he held up the play before making a subtle pass into the path of Muntazir Ramji who was going for an overlap. A sweet finish with the outside of his right foot into the bottom corner and SJ were 1 nil up.

A couple of minutes later saw SJ’s Mohammed Jawad Virjee getting the opportunity to drive at Gymkhana’s defence. As he went into a 50-50 tackle with a defender, the ball went into the air and sat up nicely for him. He took the shot outside of the box which found its way into the bottom right corner via two vicious deflections 2 nil up.

The opposition started to find their way into the game and crafted a couple of chances together. But solid defending from Abbas Datoo and Sajaadali Janmohammed left keeper Abbas Ali Dossa with very little action.

Once again SJ found themselves on the front foot. A few interchanging passes between Irfaan Kanji and Abbasali Gulamhussein saw the oppositions defence cut open. Abbas Ali used his quick feet to get into the box before teeing up Irfaan, who slotted the ball into the bottom left corner. 3 nil.

Towards the end of match SJ started to use the widths of the pitch. Haider Virjee moved the ball down the wing to Abbas Ali. He drove the ball low across the edge of the box, after a dummy from Ammar Jetha, Muntazir Ramji blasted the ball into the roof of the net with his weaker foot. For a few seconds Muntazir and a couple of the SJ players stood still, were they doing a mannequin challenge or just surprised that Muntazir with his small frame could shoot from outside the area. 4 nil.

It was very obvious that Gymkhana had a good team talk at half time because at the start of the second half they looked like a completely different team. They were playing like SJ in the first half and after sustained pressure, they won an indirect free kick outside of the box. The SJ went to sleep for the first time in the game and allowed the free kick taker to lay the ball for an easy shot at goal. They ball ricocheted into the air and it turned into a game of pinball in the SJ box. Finally, the smallest player on the pitch but crucially a Gymkhana player got the ball under control and hit the ball towards the bottom corner. It seemed as if Abbas Ali Dossa had saved it, but the referee gave the goal. A good example where goal line technology can also be of use at a grass roots level.

SJ responded well. They started to play like how they did in the first half. Jawad Khatau, in the middle, threaded a ball through to the winger, who then put a fine ball through to Irfaan Kanji. From virtually an impossible angle, he slotted the ball home to make it 4-1.

It was coming to the end of the match and SJ were pushing for a 5th goal. Once again SJ used the widths to start an attack. Haider Virjee moved the ball forward to SJ’s right winger. He then drove down the wing before laying it off to Mohammed Jawad Virjee who was waiting outside of the box. He took a touch to control the ball and then blasted the ball into the bottom right corner to seal the 6-1 win.

It was a good performance and the coach had to make another important decision. With the hot vanilla tea should he go for the samosa or pakora. He took the unhealthy option and had both!

Mohammed Valjy (Manager Tier 5, U13/14), with contribution from Ammar Jehta (tier 5 player).