SJFC’s sluggishness out of the blocks meant they fell in the Chiltern Cup qualifier, despite a relatively even game.
The U9s went down 3-0 in the space of minutes as a good KCA team seemed to carve shooting opportunities with ease.
After a slow first quarter, the boss reminded the players of their responsibility, pride for the shirt and told them to mentally reset to 0-0.
There was an instant improvement – Noah Hussein hit the bar from a free kick as he and Hussain Dhalla peppered the opposition goal from distance, but the KCA defence held firm.
With Aliabbas Dharas doing his impression of Virgil Van Dijk with some imperious defending – helped ably by Ali Husain Sumar, Mohammed Haji and Zaynali Mohamed – the rest of the half was played in KCA territory.
Three goals is not a lot to overcome in one half, as the 2005 Liverpool team knew extremely well.
But there wasn’t to be such a comeback at Maple Cross on Saturday.
Hassan Alimohamed, in just his second game for the club, was putting in a markedly improved shift on the wing with calm passing and brave tackling. Captain Danyaal Panju, enjoying a new position on the other wing, was like a metronome with his passing, helping SJFC wrestle control.
And with Mehdi Bhimji allowed to dictate the play as an unorthodox David Luiz style centre back, there was plenty of through balls in behind – but the runs didn’t quite match the passes. Some great utility work from Mohamed Jawad Tejani – who played in defence, midfield and attack – was unfortunately without reward.
KCA notched one more with a deflected effort and it seemed the game was out of sight – but the lads, in typical fashion, kept at it.
Eventually the tireless Dhalla, doing his best impression of Gabriel Jesus – or as he may prefer, Joao Pedro – was sent through on goal and calmly slotted home to reduce the deficit.
A confident SJFC conceded once again after trying to play out from the back too casually, but no manager will ever criticise his team for that.
With games coming thick and fast, this team can certainly win – if it starts playing before the second quarter!
Ali Hussain Sumar
Muhammad Jawad Tejani