1) Ridha Al Najim
2) Aadam Dewji
3) Muhammad Mahdi Govani
4) Amaar Karawalli
5) Rayyaan Ali Merali
6) Ali Mukhtar
7) Ammar Husayn Ravji
8) Syed Hassan Alavi
The U12s Westwood Park home fixture had signs of Murphy’s Law right from the preparation phase. With limited availability of players for the game, coach dropped the message of a potential drop-out on Friday afternoon which would mean the squad was down to no substitutes. Five hours later, we received the final line up and timings from coach and the number had dropped from 10 to 8 (!) which meant that we were now going into the game one man short.
The players were informed by the parents of the situation as they embarked on their journey to Maple Cross, preparing them mentally for the task ahead. As a few brave parents were setting up the goal nets with Mr Karawalli’s guidance, Ali Mukhtar walked towards the pitch but not in his typical fashionable style emanating a feeling of another ‘Murphy’ element. Our 6th sense was confirmed as he broke the news of the cut on his hand, eliminating him from keeping this morning. Coach had to change his game plan yet again in a true Rangnick fashion whilst garnering his cabin crew and charting out the route for the day.
With the nets finally pinned down and parents lined up, the referee blew the whistle with the red-black boys ready to take on their visitors traditionally dressed in their green-black striped outfit.
Syed Hassan started the rotation for the day in goal and delivered a brave display in a position outside his comfort zone. Once finding his feet, or the line rather, he pulled off a few brave saves and executed a couple of well-directed kicks. However, SJFC were faced with one green-black wave after another and with the resilience and fighting spirit from our boys, the score-line was held down to a two-goal deficit at the first-quarter whistle. The fighting spirit was eminently displayed by perhaps the smallest player (in size) on the pitch, but certainly not in spirit, namely Ridha. Commanding the defence line, he was literally everywhere blended with some Brazilian inspired moves in our own quarter of the pitch.
The crew entered second quarter with no substitutes but determined to give the visitors a good game. Right from kick-off SJ started asking questions and pressing high. The hard-work paid off as Rayaan delivered a beautiful goal à la Cruyff when he rounded the keeper and elegantly reduced the deficit to 1-2. This goal was a result off Rayaan’s hard work on the right wing displaying skills combined with pace. The goal gave SJFC further momentum and the current had changed with red/black waves galore. The pressure paid off once again with Ali Mukhtar contributing significantly at the attacking end and rewarded with a tap-in half way through the quarter. It didn’t end there as SJFC were awarded a free kick just outside the box shortly after the second goal. Adam put the ball down and the whole of Maple Cross were eagerly following his measured steps for the run-up. As the ball was struck, we knew that this was going to be a ‘siuu’ moment as the ball went through a perfectly charted out route and hit the left top corner net. The goalkeeper didn’t have the chance to move and the goal was applauded by the SJ parents as well as the visitors.
The whole SJFC squad had put in a massive shift throughout the 10 minutes of the second quarter. The question was how long this brave encounter could go on. The answer was maybe with the pitch invasion shortly after the third goal. A dog ran into the pitch and the game had to take a short break. Maybe the dog’s name was Murphy (?) as soon thereafter Westwood converted 2 opportunities towards the end of the quarter leaving the half-time result at 3-4 in the visitors’ favour.
The last 2 quarters were an uphill task as the energy levels were draining and the opposition took advantage of the resource at hand with four players on the bench. Perhaps the most spectacular moment missed by everyone was when the SJ lines man ‘tripped over’ one of the substitutes whilst keeping the eye on the ball and running in the opposite direction. Our visitors added two goals to the tally in the third quarter and a final one before the referee blew the final whistle.
Once again we have to admire our boys’ attitude on the pitch and especially after the game. Whilst naturally disappointed, maturity and dignity was demonstrated.
Oh ..one more thing….Ridha definitely has some washing to do where the mud on his kit was overpowering the red/black stripes clearly representing the shift put in by the crew.
Match report by Shafique Govani (U12 Parent)