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Matchweek 6 Rumours

[written by: Humeid Khan, Riaz Murad, Umair Ashraf & Hashim Ghazi]
It seems like we just started the season yesterday and we are at the half way mark. Hejaz sit at the top of the table and they, along with Samarra, are undefeated. Both Andalusia and Anatolia have been taking turns keeping the second place spot warm and the hype surrounding them entering the offseason appears to be legit. On the other hand, the hype surrounding Sham has fallen flat on its face, as they three points out of the playoffs. Jerusalem have yet to secure a point but the good news for them is that there remains five more games to play. One upset can change the course of everything in this League, and it remains to be seen who will come out on top. Hejaz look to be in pole position though, and credit to them for their performances thus far. Here are your MW6 rumours. 
HEJAZ vs JERUSALEM (8:45PM Field 4)
Midway through the season, both Hejaz and Jersualem are tied for the least amount of goals scored at 8 but find themselves at opposite ends of the table. GM Taqi Ahmed and Captain Umair Sheikh have Hejaz at the top of the table primarily because of their structured and responsible system with a heavy focus on team defence. After going down to the Turks, the men in white dug in to come back and tie the game, with Taqi showing that great things can happen when you get ball to the net. Both Nasir Rehman and Hannan Ahmed showed glimpses of the offence that looks poised on breaking out. But the story of their season is the backend of Hussam Ayubi, Farhan Butt, Mustafa Tirmizi and the aforementioned Sheikh that has neutralized all the offences so far. On the other side of the pitch, things seem to get worse for Jerusalem. Another week, another loss. The men in baby blue put in a feisty performance and saw glimpses of the team that GM Saqib Dadabhoy wants them to be, yet they seem to be having a hard time putting it together for the full game.  A bright spot has been the play of Murtaza Tirmizi, tied for the league lead in goals, but he’s going to need some help from his teammates. There seem to be more questions than answers at this point but Jerusalem have the squad to turn it around. Will Jerusalem finally be able to get some points on the table? Will Hejaz be able to find their offence? This will be a spirited game for both teams and one that will be treat to watch. 
SAMARRA vs ANATOLIA (8:45PM Field 3)
Can you say "cursed"? Anatolia can't catch a break from this injury bug. One more week, and one more player out due to injury. This time it's striker Riaz Murad who injured his foot in the beginning of the second half against Hejaz. He is currently being evaluated and will miss this week's stint - we hope the midseason break gives him the time needed to heal and come back as a force in 2020. GM Zain Khilji and the Canaries missed a great opportunity to take top spot in a matchup with Hejaz but settled for a draw. Goalie Zahid Merchant is still reeling from the goal he gave up that tied the game. Otherwise, they'd have been happy with a 1-0 scoreline. Anatolia is a resilient team, as they have presented multiple lineups due to injuries but remain in the hunt for top spot. Fawad Akram and Shaheen Limbada have been the carrying force during these trying times and are expected to carry the load again this week. Samarra on the other hand, are "struggling" to get a win. Although, they're not losing, three ties in a row should be bothering GM Junaid Akram. Getting great starts from his team and not being able to finish with a W should put some pressure on any GM, but Junaid seems to take it in stride, having great confidence in his team. Rookie Aadhil Mohamed continues to shine, leading with two goals last week and playing through a very rough game from their opponents. Although Atif Mian was held to a lonely assist last week, he's chomping at the bits to get some goals in against the Turks. Samarra is a formidable team when it has its full squad. And so far, like Anatolia, they haven't had a consistent lineup. This will be an interesting match up where both GMs are working hard to draw up gameplans to solve each other. Can one of these teams come out with a win this week, or are we going to see a dud of a draw?
ANDALUSIA vs SHAM (9:45PM Field 3)
Andalusia comes out of the first half of the season sitting in second place with 10 points. At the halfway mark, they have to be happy with how things have turned out. What stands out about this team is how they are getting contributions from everyone on the team. Six players have scored for the side and they have yet to give up more than three goals in a match. It is a well-balanced team that relies on systematic play and structure over talent (though that's no slouch to some of the elite play we have seen from individual Spaniards this season). Their last game against Jerusalem was a bit of a come-out party for star Omar El-Askalany who played a part in all three of their goals. This is a good sign for a team that has so far survived without a high level of output from him thus far. Currently sitting 1 point behind Hejaz, a win this week might just put them over the top. In the first matchup against Sham, they dominated the entire game and felt unlucky to win by only a two-goal margin. They'll most likely stick to a game plan that has worked so well so far: play fast and press high. If Andalusia is getting a contribution from everyone on offense, Sham is the complete opposite. GM Muhammad Shah has scored 50% of the team's goals and they will need contributions from other players if they want to make the playoffs. Last week they did experiment with the lineup once again in which Humeid Khan was moved up to help on offense and Ahmad Alvi was charged to help out on defense. Both aspects of their game were improved against Samarra in a game in which they drew 2-2. For the first time this season, there seemed to be a game plan behind their offense and it will be interesting to see if it was a fluke or something they can build upon in their match this week. In their previous matchup, the speed and pressing of Andalusia really bothered this Sham team; if they can counteract that and grab a win it will make the playoff race all the more interesting. The game plan for Sham this week (and every week for that matter) will be: play with urgency. Their season hangs in balance. can this team play with the aggression, urgency, and rhythm that hasn't been there all season?

Matchweek 5 Rumours

[written by: Bassam Basit, Humeid Khan, Riaz Murad & Hashim Ghazi]
Matchwweek 5 features another top-of-the-table matchup - something we feel like we say every week with the movement in the middle of the table - as Hejaz and Anatolia battle it out in the late night spot. But before that, we feature two matchups with a bit of history at 8:45. A rematch of the the last two finals is going down on Field 4 as Sham look to find their footing against their foes Samarra (who have been struggling to collect full points on Sundays as well), while former teammates Saqib Dadabhoy and Omar Sheikh face off in the battle of the BISL Blues. Here are your rumours for this week. 
SHAM vs SAMARRA (8:45PM Field 4)
A rematch of the last two BISL Finals has a different scent to it this year, as the two teams who are usually fighting for top spot find themselves in a very different section of the table heading into MW5. Sham comes off a disappointing loss in a game where they seemed to hold possession and dominate for most of it. Two costly mistakes resulted in two goals and their struggling offense just could not keep up. Four weeks in the lack of rhythm on offense from Sham has been startling, considering the talent on the team, with the likes of Khizer Shahzad, Muhammad Shah and Ahmad Alvi. Excluding their five goal outburst a few weeks ago, Sham have only managed to score one goal in each of their three losses. GM Shah has rolled out four different starting lineups in hopes that one of those combinations will click and change the outlook of their entire season. For the upcoming match, the game plan for Sham seems to be simple: score. goals. Until they do that, they’ll be slipping further and further away from playoff contention. If you have watched Samarra all season, you’d be surprised to see them sitting in third place. They have looked fluid and comfortable on the pitch and many still consider them to be title favourites. Despite the strong performances, Samarra keeps finding itself ending the match in a stalemate. While undefeated, they are only 3 points ahead of their struggling opponents this week. A lot of this can be contributed to them missing their ace striker Jibran Sakrani in half their games thus far. If Samarra can turn some of these shootouts into wins, they will find themselves challenging Hejaz for the top spot on the table. This matchup seems tailor made for the Black Stars, who are second in the league in goals scored, thanks to their attacking trio of Aadhil Mohamed, Atif Mian and GM Junaid Akram. If they can score around their averages of 3.5 goals per game, it will be tough for Sham to keep up and challenge the defending champs. 
Another week, another possible opportunity for Jerusalem to turn things around as we reach the halfway point of the season. They were without GM Saqib Dadabhoy and keeper Yasser Zia against Anatolia, but only squandered the opportunity themselves to draw level with the last kick of the game. Defender and back up goalkeeper Nabeel Jabbar still put in a decent shift between the sticks. A little more stability at the back would ease the creative minds of Bassam Basit and Syed Murtaza Tirmizi to focus on their strong suits, creating and finishing chances, respectively. Substitute Ali Lone has been making an impact with his play between the lines, and though he is not eligible to play every week, he’s a welcome option at the disposal of the sky blues when needed. The two Omars of Andalusia will be a hefty task for the shaky Jerusalem defence with the lung-busting runs of Owais Ansari from deep another tactic in their arsenal. With Jibran Waqar turning heads in net and producing save after save against Samarra FC to earn his side a point, they look a formidable side on the rise. Andalusia have a super sub of their own in Saad K, but GM Omar Sheikh is confident his side can still win matches without his substitute engine being called upon. The key is who he elects to play the DM role for the Spaniards. We have seen a number of different players line up in the position for the side, but nobody (save for Saad) has locked down the position. The benefit for a team like the Royals is they have a bevy of options to choose from and expect them to try different combinations in the middle depending on the strengths (and weaknesses) of their opponents. 
HEJAZ vs ANATOLIA (9:45PM Field 3) 
Four teams have challenged Hejaz and four teams have been unable to beat the Whites - now that’s a headline GM Taqi Ahmed loves to see. After a hard-fought draw in MW3, the Hejazis managed to pull out a one goal win against an experienced team last week. While they have given up very few goals, they’ve failed to score a lot as well. One could say that they’ve taken the “score more goals than the other team” mantra to heart and have been able to just score enough goals to eke out wins in three of the four matches they’ve played. Matchweek 5 sees them square off against the second place Turks who are talented enough to score in bunches. The focal point for Hejaz will be the midfield engine duo of Farhan Butt and Nasir Rehman, who the rest of the league have failed to slow down. With a supporting cast of role players, Hejaz plan to stay on top at the end of MW5. Anatolia, coming off a gutsy win against the only winless team in the league, are one team that could knock off Hejaz from their perch at the top if they win this Sunday. They have the firepower to do that in GM Zain Khilji, who was scoreless in Week 4 (must be the mask he wore during the match), the magician Fawad Akram, and Shaheen Limbada, who showed why he’s one of the most formidable veterans in the league by smashing a wide angle shot for a fantastic goal last week. Komayl Jawadi remains sidelined for a second week in a row, so Nabil Muntazir may make another appearance this week. For the Canaries to beat Lilywhites this week, they’ll have to show better poise by scoring early and keeping a lead intact, as they have made things interesting over the last couple of weeks with their complacency. They were seen being observed last week by their upcoming opponents so they better up the ante this week. Will Anatolia solve the unsolvable Hejaz this week, as others have failed to do so, or will Hejaz remain masters of their own destiny at the half way mark of the season – find out in the later edition of BISL MW5!

Matchweek 4 Rumours

[written by: Humeid Khan, Riaz Murad, Umair Ashraf and Hashim Ghazi]
Three weeks in the books, and we find one team pointless and another undefeated. Hejaz and Jerusalem were old foes in the early stages of the League, and after both missing out on the playoffs last year, they find themselves at opposite ends of the table (Hejaz first, Jerusalem last) at the early stages of this campaign. Meanwhile, after a huge win against Anatolia last week, Andalusia look to show they have the class to beat the best of them with a matchup against Samarra this week. Sham finally found themselves on the right side of a result but face a tough task against leage leaders Hejaz, while Anatolia's biggest opponent has been the bad luck they've faced on the injury front, yet hope to regain some momentum (and fitness) against a Jerusalem side we have yet to see the best of. 
After some injury news last week, we have a transaction to report: 
  • Shah Yar has been selected by Anatolia FC as the full-time replacement for Altamash Khan. Shah has suited up for the Turks as a substitute this year and we welcome him officially to the League. We also wish Altamash a speedy recovery.
  • With Shah Yar joining Anatolia as a first-team player, his substitute role has been filled by Nabil Muntazir. Nabil will now serve as Anatolia's substitute for the rest of the season and we are happy to welcome him back after a solid individual campaign with Jerusalem FC last year. 

Both players will be available for selection this Sunday. Now, here are your rumours heading into Matchweek 4. 

SHAM vs HEJAZ (8:45PM Field 4)
For the first time this season, the entire Sham team was laced up and ready to play, and the early season optimism looked to materialize.  Their last game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, they looked shaky and nervous as the starting six had never played together, but after a critical half time talk they came out firing on all cylinders where they scored five goals unanswered in quick succession. GM Muhammad Shah, not ready to let the team fall to the bottom of the table, scored a remarkable hat-trick, with the help of Khizer Shahzad who assisted on two of those goals. However, this upcoming game will require a quick and sudden change in gears because they will be facing Hejaz who are sitting on top of the table right now like its 2015 all over again. The second season spell of GM Taqi Ahmed is looking Mourinho-esque, and they're playing like it too. They've only given up three goals in three games and getting through the likes Hussam Ayubi and Nasir Rehman only to find Umair Sheikh waiting between the sticks has had several offenses scratching their heads - just ask Samarra who had scored eleven goals in two games prior only to walk away with one against Hejaz's stellar defense. While they have conceded the least amount of goals, they have also scored the least. Taqi will need to figure out a way to get the offense rolling, along with promising striker Hannan Ahmed; otherwise every game this season will require their defense to be at its best. If their defense can remain steady and their offense starts rolling, that undefeated streak could see itself continuing.
ANDALUSIA vs SAMARRA (8:45PM Field 3) 
Both Samarra and Andalusia showed why they are near the top of the table last week. The men in black put in a solid effort but will feel disappointed they didn’t get the three points against their undermanned opponent. Rookie sensation Aadil Mohamed left his marker in the dust and had the game on his foot, but an incredible save from the veteran Umair Sheikh kept the game tied and left the Samarrans off pace for top spot in the L. Playing as a full unit, GM Junaid Akram and Captain Atif Mian got a glimpse of the powerhouse potential their group has, and once the Jibran-Aadil-Junaid trio starts clicking, defences around the league will be put on notice. Insider sources tell us that both goal-sccorer Jibran Sakrani and defender Salman Ahmad will be away this weekend as they continue to search for the best banquet hall biryani in the GTA. On the other side of the pitch, the Andalusians put in a gritty effort last week to come away with the W against a solid Anatolian squad. GM Omar Sheikh had his men play some inspiring football and put in a gutsy performance. Salman Siddiqui channeled his inner Robert Lewandowski and potted a brace and Omar El Askalany showed glimpses of the all-star talent he has with a pair of assists. “Rookie” goaltender Jibran Waqar continues to turn heads with his incredible play in net. This week it will be a battle of the offences; both teams have enough firepower to turn any game into a blowout. It remains to be seen which veteran defensive unit will hold its ground and slow down the other. Will Andalusia be able to take advantage of a shorthanded Samarra squad, or will the Samarrans play with the same fluidity like they did when they were undermanned like last time? It will be a grind it out type game and one that will be a treat to watch!
The season seems to be slipping away from GM Saqib Dadabhoy after another drubbing in Matchweek 3 against Sham. They played well in the first half and took a 1-0 lead into the second half where it all broke down for them. The sky blues now are the only winless team remaining in the league. They’ll need every single player to fire on all cylinders to get their first win of the season in MW4. Murtaza Tirmizi was held scoreless in the last game. So, for Jerusalem to get anything going, they’ll need to get the ball to Tirmizi to do his magic. And it all starts with the defense, where Saqib needs to build his strategy from. Being -10 on goal differentials is significant, but that will only matter for seeding for the playoffs. Right now, it starts from getting them their first win against a talented Anatolia team. The canaries themselves are coming off a disappointing loss where they literally let one slip. Missing two players, GM Zain Khilji being one of them, and with star defenseman Altamash Khan out for the season, the Turks played pretty well. For a team that has looked like one of the top teams on paper this season, the injury bug has really affected them. The yellow submarine will be pleased to have sub Shah Yar join the side on a full-time basis as Altamash's replacement. However, there may be a new injury scare, as Komayl Jawadi went down with a knee injury in Week 3 that saw him unable to continue on the pitch for the majority of the second half. We wish Komayl a speedy recovery and remain hopeful his season is not yet done. He’s day to day, and will be re-evaluated before the game on Sunday. With Khilji back in the fold this week, helped by star playmaker Fawad Akram and a veteran supporting cast of Shaheen Lambada and Zahid Merchant, the Anatolians will need to impose their will against Jerusalem and keep them winless. When firing on all cylinders, these Turks are unstoppable!

Matchweek 3 Rumours

[written by: Humeid Khan, Zain Khilji & Hashim Ghazi]
Week 2 came and went and saw Hejaz FC stake their claim to first place in the table. The boys in white have put in two solid performances en route to a perfect record so far, but face the offensive juggernaut and defending champ Samarra FC this week. A tale of two contrasting styles face off in the other early matchup with the Spaniards taking on the Turks. And the late night matchup features a pair of winless sides hoping for any sort of positives after a pair of dire displays in previous weeks. Before heading into this week's news, we have some unfortunate injury news to report: 
  • Altamash Khan of Anatolia FC reaggravated a knee injury that forces him to withdraw from the League for the season. A replacement player has yet to be named. 
Let's see how the rumours are shaping up heading into Matchweek 3.
Despite coming off a huge 7-1 win, the atmosphere in Anatolia's locker room seemed bleak after Altamash Khan limped off the field in the first minute of the game. It seems he reaggravated his knee injury on which he had surgery the year before, forcing him to withdraw from the League this year. This will be quite a blow to the team that was going to rely on Altamash to anchor their defense alongside Shaheen Limbada. We wish Altamash a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on the BISL field next season. Aside from the injury news, Anatolia was firing on all cylinders; the new partnership of GM Zain Khilji and Fawad Akram is as formidable on the field as it sounded on paper. They have already combined for 10 points in 2 games, a level of production that has defences scratching their head trying to figure out how to stop it. Despite the 7-1 scoreline, Zahid Merchant was tested this game and made a flurry of incredible saves, holding Sham to just one goal. The upcoming game will be an excellent test for Anatolia who didn't end up on the right side of the result in either matchups against this week's foes last year. On the other side of the matchup, Andalusia is coming off a narrow loss in which the team could be seen huddled around long after the match had ended discussing ways to unlock an offense that relies too heavily on Omar² (GM Omar Sheikh and first round pick Omar El Askalany). Having Saad K back against Anatolia will certainly help in that regard as the sub will be filling in against for the Royal Blues this week. First-time goalkeeper Jibran Waqar has been a revelation in the early part of the season with his acrobatic saves, making the already formidable defense of Andalusia that much tougher to beat.  Sheikh's team seems to have had no trouble picking up their identity from last season, an identity that seemed to be a big weakness for Anatolia last season who lost both fixtures against Andalusia's up-tempo playing style. It will be interesting to see if Anatolia's shorthanded defense can open Andalusia's offense, and help regain the lead over Anatolia in the points table.
SAMARRA vs HEJAZ (8:45PM Field 3)
The two sides that found themselves collecting all three points last week face off in Matchweek 3. Samarra showed that they are a force to be reckon with in an 8-2 battering of their opponents last week. GM Junaid Akram looks all the part to carry on his side's championship ambitions, thanks largely in part to the play of rookie Aadil Mohamed. Mohamed had a hat trick and added a helper in the Samarran's win, and looks like a true talisman for the side up front. Not to be lost in the heroics of the offense was a staunch defensive performance by the boys in Black. The team defended as a unit and gave little for the opponents to work with, allowing them to play the game at their pace and control the match. Atif Mian, despite nursing a bit of a knock, continued his stellar form with another goal and assist on the day. Both Aadil and Atif sit in the top three in the League in points thus far, and look to add to that tally against the Hejazis this week. Hejaz had an impressive display of their own last week en route to three points against Andalusia that brings them to sole control of the top of the table. The lilywhites handled Andalusia's press well and seemed as if they had been playing together for weeks. Credit to GM Taqi Ahmed for drafting a side that boasts familiarity and works well as a unit. It appears the side knows how to play together and to their strengths, which will only lead to more Ws. Rookie Hannan Ahmed had a strong display up front scoring the first BISL goal of his career and adding another helper as well. Hejaz may have uncovered a diamond in the rough in Ahmed who seems like the perfect compliment to Taqi and Nasir Rehman in midfield. If Hejaz continues to put in professional displays like the last few weeks, they will be a tough to knock out of the #1 spot. They face their toughest matchup today in Samarra this week, and if they can weather that storm, they will warrant the title of being the "team to beat" this season. 
JERUSALEM vs SHAM (9:45PM Field 3) 
Sham, who are used to being the ones to inflict damage, suffered a hefty defeat to the Anatolians last weekend. This has got to be the worse start of any team GM Muhammed Shah has been on, but to be fair, key absences have led to this downfall. Shah and Saif Syed were both unavailable in the 7-1 beating leaving Khizer Shahzad, who did not feature in game 1, at a disconnect from Sham's midfield. His efforts created a goal put in by sub Talha Kirmani but apart from that, they were rather ambitious often with no support. The season is still in the early stages and having their full squad may be enough to bring back their pre-season hype. Offense will be the focal point for their success this season with Khizer being the only goal scorer by trait. Shah and Ahmed Alvi will be required to contribute on that front without compromising solidity in the midfield. We hope to see the real Sham in full this weekend and as a result, establish more parity in the standings after week 3. Jerusalem were handed a similar fate in an 8-2 thrashing from Samarra but seemed the victim of their own poor organization. The sky blues look good in transition and keeping possession when they do have it, but seem to break shape too easily. We want to see GM Saqib Dadabhoy at the heart of the defence calling the shots and predicting danger as it comes. Too many times JFC were undone by a through ball down the wing which should be easy to prevent with the right shape. Although Salim Jarad did not feature in their previous match, they have enough options up front with Bassam Basit, Murtaza Tirimizi and the back bone of Abdo Menla to support them. We expect Saqib to pull out his tactics binder and play an unconventional method according to the pieces at his disposal. We are excited to see how he will make it work this week against the also pointless Sham in a battle to return amidst the standings.   

Matchweek 2 Rumours

[written by: Bassam Basit, Humeid Khan & Hashim Ghazi]
Matchweek 1 is in the books and we got a taste of what each team brings to the table. Andalusia looked in midseason form, while Hejaz surprised many with a great result of their own. In the late night matchup, two offensive powerhouses exchanged jabs en route to a 3-3 draw. What does Matchweek 2 have in store? Let’s find out in this week’s rumours. 
With the early kickoff again, Jerusalem will be hoping to redeem their sub-par start to the season. They were dealt an unlucky blow when midfielder Zeem Khan came off after a few seconds on the pitch in result of a nagging ankle jury, leaving the Sky Blues thin up the pitch against the tireless Hejaz FC. Albeit both goals in Jerusalem's 2-1 loss were gifted in possession and down to a lack of communication, it's still the chemistry in the final third of the pitch between the likes of Syed Murtaza Tirmizi and Bassam Basit that they still need to get working. A tactical change may be imminent for them. Samarra will be disappointed conceding a last-minute penalty last week to forego a 3-2 lead against Anatolia FC but their momentum sure is flying high. With the team firing from all ends of the pitch, their main threat has been Player of the Week Atif Mian with two goals plus an assist. Being part of a thrilling 3-3 draw does keep a team hungry and Samarra will be looking to replicate their firepower against the bullish Jerusalem defence. Both GMs will need to take out pages from Mourinho's and Wenger's playbooks, respectively, to try to edge out on top!
ANDALUSIA vs HEJAZ (8:45PM Field 3)
Andalusia may have had the most dominant week one performance against Sham last week, with GM Omar Sheikh’s tactics playing out perfectly. The team pressed up high and relied on wide play from Ali Wadee and Owais Ansari to overwhelm Sham in attack. In defence, the team played tight and gave their opponents no room to operate. However, despite some crafty build-up play en route to three goals, the highlight of the night came on the other side of the pitch. In the second half, Muhammad Shah perfectly struck the ball with his weak foot to pull one back…or so he thought. Keeper Jibran Waqar, with his BSL-gold glove shortstop skills on full display, dove and fully extended – like fully extended – to palm the ball away to make an incredible save. Though Andalusia controlled the match, that sort of quality goalkeeping will always give you a leg up on your competition. The Spaniards face the other winning side from Matchweek 1 in Hejaz. Hejaz’s front three of GM Taqi Ahmed, Nasir Rehman and Hannan Ahmed (coined BISL’s equivalent to the mid-2010s MSN of Barcelona by the Hejaz GM), ran ragged en route to a 3-1 victory of their own. Ahmed and Rehman styles complement one another, with Rehman playing a box-to-box role and Ahmed pulling the strings on the ball. Adding in Ahmed’s finishing quality only makes the trio more troublesome for opposing defences. Rookie defender Farhan Butt made a great first impression at the back and even contributed a goal of his own in his debut. This early top of the table match will be a frenetic affair, with both sides looking to continue their top form at the start of the season.
ANATOLIA vs SHAM (9:45PM Field 3)
Anatolia walked away from Week 1 with a point in what will undoubtedly feel bittersweet. On one hand, they were up 2-0 and looked in complete control but after conceding three quick goals, they found themselves down 3-2 in the closing minutes of the game. A last-second penalty salvaged a point for the team. This week they go against Sham’s defense that will put a lot of pressure against GM Zain Khilji and #1 Pick Fawad Akram, two forwards who relish making defenses look silly. With Altamash Khan and Shaheen Limbada as your back-line, they probably expect to not make the same mistakes twice. On the other side, Sham is coming off a loss, which is not something this team saw much last year. The lack of bodies seemed to have an effect on their game, as they seemed completely outclassed by Andalusia who dominated the majority of the game. The sorely missed start front man Khizer Shahzad as their offense had no rhythm or structure. The team is trying to drill their system into the new players and a learning curve is inevitable. However, you can count on GM Muhammad Shah and his right hand man Asif Ibn Rehana to make sure this team comes prepared for Week 2 to wash away the taste of last week’s loss. They will be shorthanded once again this week but they aren’t making any excuses. A team of Sham’s caliber isn’t used to starting the season looking down 6 point, but if they don’t sort their system soon and fall subject to tired legs again, it may be inevitable. 

Matchweek 1 Rumours

[written by: Hashim Ghazi]
The winter coats are out.  The days are getting shorter.  And the first set of snowflakes have made their way onto our streets.  All this can only mean one thing – it is time for BISL Season Six to get started.  The League kicks off this weekend and features a number of intriguing story lines heading into the season.  Usually, in these rumours we break down the match-ups taking place on Sunday evening.  But with such movement in the draft, we figured it would be better to give a primer on each side to get a sense of what they are bringing to the table, and will revert back to our old-school rumour write-ups for week two. 
Before we get into the team previews, there is one transaction of note: 
  • Ali Chaudhry has withdraw from Hejaz FC and will be replaced by newcomer and defender Farhan Butt.  Butt will be available for Hejaz this weekend. 
Without further ado, here are your team previews.
HEJAZ vs JERUSALEM (8:45PM Field 4)
Last Year Finish: 5th place in Regular Season (7 points); Did Not Make Playoffs
GM: Taqi Ahmed (2nd year as GM)
Projected Starting VI (2-2-1): U. Sheikh; H. Ayubi, F. Butt; N. Rehman, T. Ahmed; H. Ahmed
EPL Comparison: Manchester United – a team that once was the class of the League looking to develop a new identity in hopes of bringing a new era of success and silverware to the side
  • Defence – last year, Hejaz put a lot of their stock into having one ball playing defender coupled with a sweeper.  What resulted in a number of scorelines that features many goals against However, the side was able to right the ship as the team built its chemistry.  This year, it appears that the Lilywhites aimed to build a defence that was deep and stable with the likes of newcomer Farhan Butt, Hussam Ayubi, Umair Ashraf, Mustafa Tirmizi and Areeb Masood
  • Counter-attacking – GM Taqi Ahmed built his side for the counter, with a defence that isn’t afraid to break up play and a midfield engine in Nasir Rehman that plays box-to-box relentlessly. You can expect the Hejazis to rely on a strong counter attack to get their goals and a defence that will protect leads and make opposing teams really work to break them down.
  • Grit – looking at the roster, these guys are going to be a handful.  The team possesses a number of people who aren’t afraid to get chippy or put a real shift in.  These guys work hard and don’t need it to be pretty.  They are focused on results above everything, and will go to any length to get them.
Last Year Finish: 6th place in Regular Season (5 points); Did Not Make Playoffs
GM: Saqib Dadabhoy (3rd year as GM)
Projected Starting VI (1-3-1): Y. Zia; S. Dadabhoy; S. Jarad, K. Lotia, B. Basit; M. Tirmizi
EPL Comparison: Arsenal – a storied franchise coming off its worst performances in years in hopes of establishing a new identity with world-class talent up front to mask question marks in other areas
  • Attack – GM Saqib Dadabhoy went attack/attack with his first two picks, picking up Bassam Basit and Syed Murtaza Tirmizi to lead the line.  From there, Dadabhoy continued to pick attacker after attacker to fill out the side.  The squad no doubt has a lot of firepower but how that will balance with a lack of true defenders (Saqib and Haaris Kirmani are the only two players that identify themselves as primary defenders) comes into play will remain to be seen.
  • Size – The Sky Blues boast the tallest team in the League, with six players standing taller than 6 feet. Jerusalem can use this size to impose a presence on as a collective defensive unit and on both sides of dead balls. The team’s size does not discount the team’s pace though, as the team features quick playmakers in Kamil Lotia and the aforementioned Bassit to turn broken up plays into quick counters.
  • Tactics – Dadabhoy does not shy away from being innovative on the pitch.  Be it grinding out results with cagey affairs, or trying new things with one sweeper defender and four attackers, you never know what you’re going to get out of the new-look Jerusalem.  While post-draft analysis led to many questioning Saqib’s strategy, the guy isn’t afraid to tinker with his side in order to yield results.  We wouldn’t rule out the side just yet. 
SHAM vs ANDALUSIA (8:45PM Field 3)

Last Year Finish: 2nd place in Regular Season (20 points); Lost in Finals
GM: Muhammad Shah (3rd year as GM)
Projected Starting VI (2-2-1): M. Badar; A. Ibn Rehana, H. Masood; M. Shah, A. Alvi; K. Shahzad
EPL Comparison: Manchester City – depth, superstar talent at every position, but high expectations given the team’s performances of season’s past
  • Chemistry – GM Muhammad Shah brings back six guys he has played with before (Asif Ibn Rehana, Ahmad Alvi, Saif Syed, Humeid Masood and Hashim Ghazi) and the Oranje will rely on their familiarity with one another to get out the gate early en route to some victories. 
  • Khizer – with the second pick in the draft and familiar face Fawad Akram off the board to Anatolia, Shah made a no-brainer decision to welcome BISL superstar Khizer Shahzad into the Sham dynasty.  Shahzad’s attacking prowess places him as one of the most lethal players in League history, with 26 goals to his name in just 20 matches.  Adding Shahzad to a front line of Shah and Alvi will give opposing defences fits.
  • Depth – Sham had arguably the best draft of any team, picking up all-star after all-star.  After the Tangerines secured a strong core that has seven potential starters to fill five spots, he peppered in added depth and versatility with his later picks.  What results is a squad that can maintain consistency and potency for all fifty minutes of a match.
Last Year Finish: 3rd place in Regular Season (19 points); Lost in Semi-Finals
GM: Omar Sheikh (2nd Year as GM)
Projected Starting VI (1-3-1): J. Waqar; R. Zahur; O. Ansari, O. Sheikh, A. Wadee; O. El-Askalany 
EPL Comparison: Tottenham – a team with no history of success in the League has a new face at the helm that promotes winning the ball back high up the pitch and relying on fitness and chemistry to yield results
  • Work Rate – this team has a ton of engines from front to back that will give opposition a lot to handle.  With GM Omar Sheikh, first round pick Omar El-Askalany, Ali Wadee and Raza Zahur, this team features of number of guys that have lungs for days and will not tire running up and down the pitch.  Opposing teams will always be losing the fitness battle against the Royals, who will always put in the extra effort that others may not. 
  • Chemistry – Sheikh welcomes back four players from last year’s third place side in Owais Ansari, Rayhan Malik, Salman Siddiqui and the aforementioned Zahur.  Clearly, Andalusia knows the brand of football they want to play this year, and will rely on the camaraderie amongst these guys to set the tone for the rest of the side. 
  • Goals – With the Omars, you already have two of the top goal threats joining forces.  However, let’s not overlook the likes of Asif Ali and his left boot.  Asif did not shy away from peppering in shots against opposition last year and will be a vital source of goals off the bench for the side.  Also, the aforementioned Siddiqui scored five goals of his own last year for the Spaniards and will look to take his goal scoring the to the next level next year.
ANATOLIA vs SAMARRA (9:45PM Field 3)
Last Year Finish: 4th place in Regular Season (12 points); Lost in Semi-Finals
GM: Zain Khilji (6th Year as GM)
Projected Starting VI (2-2-1): Z. Merchant; A. Khan, S. Kazmi; S. Limbada, Z. Khilji; F. Akram
EPL Comparison: Liverpool – a team that has had successful campaigns thanks to tremendous offensive play finally brings in a world-class keeper, leader and defense that may finally lead them to their first trophy in League history
  • Offence – yet again, the Turks possess an attack that ranks as one of the top in the League.  In #1 pick Fawad Akram and GM Zain Khilji, Anatolia possesses a one-two punch that few other teams can compete with.  The duos ability to dovetail into different positions, link up play and ability to unlock defenses with that killer move will be the lead cause for the yellow submarine’s success
  • Leadership – a question that always haunted Anatolia in the past was that the team lacked the veteran leadership needed to take a team to the next level.  That is no slight to GM Khilji as he always preps his teams to win and gets the most out of them with his displays on and off the pitch.  However, any time you can incorporate championship success and leadership by way of Shaheen Limbada and Zahid Merchant, you do it.  Ziggy and Slim have played different roles on championship sides in the past and will bring that experience (not to mention elite play at their respective positions) to the side.
  • Goalkeeping – After securing a stellar defence in drafting Altamash Khan and Limbada in the early rounds, Khilji took perennial Golden Gloves candidate Zahid Merchant as the first keeper off the draft board.  Clearly, the Turks wanted to change their identity this year as a team with as strong of a back line as a front line, and did so in securing this trio. The focus will be on Ziggy this year to use his ability to command the box and organize his side from the back to keep the side balanced and on the right side of the table all season
Last Year Finish: 1st place in Regular Season (24 points); Champions
GM: Junaid Akram (1st Year as GM)
Projected Starting VI (2-2-1): B. Jeelany; S. Ahmad, S. Choudhry; J. Akram, A. Mian; J. Sakrani
EPL Top Six Comparator: Chelsea – a team is forced to make a change and bring in a youthful new face who lacks experience but makes up for it with a strong defence and a team full of winners
  • Talent – rookie GM Junaid Akram picked a side full of star quality.  The projected starters boast a past Golden Gloves winner (Basil Jeelany) and two Defenders of the Year (Sheraz Choudhry and Atif Mian).  On top of that, with guys like Jibran SakraniSalman Ahmad, Umer Jabbar and the aforementioned Choudhry, he features a quartet that won it all with as members of the Redblacks last year.  This team has the makings of being the first ever three peat winners of BISL, and it will be on Akram to man the ship and steer them to championship glory
  • Versatility – Samarra also features a number of players that can play anywhere on the pitch.  Both Atif Mian and Sheraz Choudhry can place defence or mid, while Akram himself can choose to hold down the middle of the pitch or play up front.  When you factor in utility player Atif Khan, this side can change their tactics week after week to keep their opponents guessing and on the back foot
  • Goals Goals Goals – Nobody is denying the talent that Sakrani has up front to lead the line, but he will not be the only source of goals for the side.  Atif and Junaid have both featured as lead strikers for their sides in the past and the team possesses a three prong attack that will not shy away from peppering in shots from all angles and making their presence felt for opposing keepers

Zero Tolerance Policy for Inappropriate Conduct

As we gear up for our sixth season, we wanted to highlight a few changes made to the rules this season. We want to remind all our players, while we take pride in the competitive balance, this is strictly a recreational league. We try our best to make this a safe and enjoyable experience for all our players. The Brotherhood and iIslamic values of this league are paramount and take priority over competition.
With that in mind, we will have a zero tolerance policy for any confrontations and aggressive play. 
Rule changes: 
1. A straight Red card will result in a minimum player fine of $20 and an automatic one game suspension. Any further punishment is at the discretion of the league. All fines must be paid before the teams next scheduled league match. Non-payment will result in the player not being eligible to play.
2. Hearings will only be conducted if any further punishment will need to be discussed. 
3. Adjustment to punishment for Cards throughout the season: 
  • First yellow card - No action
  • Second yellow card - $20 fine
  • Third yellow card - 1-game suspension and $20 fine
  • Fourth yellow card - Suspension for the entire season
  • Please review all the rules at http://www.brotherhoodsoccer.com/?p=rules

2019-2020 BISL Teams

The draft is complete. Here are the teams for the 2019-2020 Brotherhood Indoor Soccer Season.