[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?