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2017/18 BISL Awards

Another BISL season is in the books and we have a new champion. Congratulations to all the teams on a fantastic season and we hope everyone enjoyed their experience. We are always looking for ways to improve our league so please send any feedback to [email protected] 

This season featured many incredible individual performances, which made player award voting even more difficult. For individual awards, each GM was to submit one nominee from their respective team. After collecting all the nominees, each team's set of GMs (GM and one Assistant GMs) were eligible to cast a vote - however, they were NOT permitted to vote for players on their own team. Though there were many deserving candidates, we are happy to present this year's individual award winners.

Before we go into the individual awards, let's recap this year's All-BISL teams, voted on by the players. 

All-BISL First Team
All-BISL Second Team
G: Basil Jeelany, Jerusalem FC      
G: Hassan Syed, Samarra FC
D: Hassan Chaudhry, Sham FC
D: Asif Ibn Rehana, Sham FC
D: Saqib Dadabhoy, Jerusalem FC
D: Ali Wadee, Samarra FC
F: Syed Murtaza Tirmizi, Samarra FC
F: Omar El-Askalany, Hejaz FC
F: Danish Khan, Samarra FC
F: Nasir Rehman, Anatolia FC
F: Khizer Shahzad, Samarra FC
F: Nehad Shihab, Anatolia FC

And now, onto the awards...

Golden Boot

 Syed Murtaza Tirmizi, Samarra FC (13 goals)

Murtaza led the Samarra attack with a total of 13 goals in his rookie season. He was fortunate to have two of the best playmakers in Danish Khan and Khizer Shahzad setting him up but Murtaza the leagues best finisher all season. He had multiple goals in 6 of his 10 regular season matches. 

Regular Season MVP

Top Three Nominees:
 Nehad Shihab, Anatolia FC; Shaheen Limbada, Jerusalem FC; Danish Khan, Samarra FC.
Winner: Danish Khan, Samarra FC (8 goals, 7 assists, 15 points) 

Danish Khan won the MVP honours in a landslide this year. Earning 7 out of a total 12 first place votes, GMs clearly recognized Danish's box to box play all season. It is hard to say Danish was the best player on his team when he had the points leader in Khizer and golden boot winner in Murtaza on his team but Danish was the piece in the middle the held Samarra together. His most impressive performance was in the second last game of the season versus Sham where he took control of the match despite playing with a separated shoulder. 

Playoff MVP

Top Three Nominees:
 Ali Wadee‎, Hassan Syed, Syed Murtaza Tirmizi.
Winner: Syed Murtaza Tirmizi, Samarra FC (4 goals, 4 assists in 3 playoff games)

One of the most difficult awards to give out is the Playoff MVP because so many individuals have a hand in the teams championship run. Ali Wadee was Samarra's lock down defender that shut down two of the top scorers in the league during their playoff run. Hassan Syed converted into a goalkeeper late in the season and only allowed two goals in three matches. However, it's hard to deny someone racking up 8 points in three matches. Murtaza scored or assisted in 8 of Samarra's 10 playoff goals over three matches. 

Top Defender

Top Three Nominees: A K, Hejaz FC; Ali Wadee, Samarra FC; Asif Ibn Rehana, Sham FC.
Winner: Ali Wadee, Hejaz FC (1 goal, 4 assists, +12 GD)

Ali Wadee returned to BISL this year and emerged as one of the most fundementally sound defenders. With plenty of ball hockey experience, he brought his unlimited motor and man-marking to shut down the opposition's best player. Ali was versatile enough to join the rush and contribute to the scoreboard as well. 

Top Goalkeeper

Top Three Nominees: ‎
Basil Jeelany, Jerusalem FC; Ibrahim Sardar, Hejaz FC;  Hassan Syed, Samarra FC.
Winner: Basil Jeelany, Jerusalem FC (57 saves, 23 goals against, 71.3% save percentage)

Basil had a rocky start to his BISL career but over the course of the season provided the most consistency of any of the keepers. Assisted by the stingy defence in front of him, Basil turned in a fantastic season with the most saves and highest save percentage. Basil's biggest performance of the season came against undefeated Sham where he earned his first clean sheet. 

Most Improved Player

Top Three Nominees: A K, Hejaz FC; Jibran Waqar, Jerusalem FC; Umair Ashraf, Samarra FC.
Winner: Jibran Waqar, Jerusalem FC (5 goals, 1 assist)

Jibran Waqar came into BISL as a dark horse with zero soccer experience but plenty of athleticism. Jerusalem took a flyer on the softball superstar and they were handsomely rewarded. Jibran took a few games to figure things out but turned into a consistent goal scorer as the season matured. He had a knack of being in the right place at the right time to bury chances. Jibran's breakthrough game came in week 3 where he scored his first two goals and assisted on one to carry his side to their first victory. 

Brotherhood Award

Nominees: ‎Erdinc Simsek, Sham FC; Hassan Chaudhary, Andalusia FC; Maaz Mohiuddin, Samarra FC; Numair Bari, Jerusalem FC; Riaz Murad, Anatolia FC; Waleed Alvi, Hejaz FC.
Winner: Hassan Chaudhary, Andalusia FC

Though every one of these nominees (and many others that weren't) are deserving of this award, this year Hassan Chaudhary stood out from among the worthy candidates. Hassan had a tumultuous year on the pitch with missed games and being traded mid-season but that didn't dampen his spirits. Hassan was a true professional and a great brother off the pitch as well.

That brings a close to Season Four of BISL. Congratulations to all award recipients, and thank you to all the players, supporters and sponsors that made this season a memorable one. See you on the pitch next year!

Congratulations to the 2017/18 Champions - Samarra FC

After a long and grueling season, only one team can come out on top. This time Samarra FC will rule the Brotherhood Soccer universe. Despite not having Danish Khan and Maaz Mohiuddin, Samarra played a defensive masterpiece to shut down Sham on their way to a 2-1 victory. Murtaza Tirmizi opened the scoring in the first half on a failed clearance by the Sham keeper to put Samarra up 1-0. Both teams traded chances in the first half but both keepers stood their ground. Sham had a quality chance right before the break but couldn't capitalize. Early in the second half, Umair Ashraf scored on a fancy spin move, off a feed by Murtaza to give Samarra the insurance goal. In the final ten minutes, Samarra had an open net but failed to get hit the net which would have all but sealed the match. Sham finally found a goal off an Ali Chaudhry header with just under a minute left to play but it was too little too late as Samarra held on for their first title in franchise history. As the final whistle blew, Samarra let out a roar as they raced towards the trophy.

Samarra earned their team charity, ICNA Food Bank, a $1000 donation from Brotherhood Indoor Soccer League. 

2018 Finals Rumours

After a season that showed both teams dominate their regular season, we have Samarra facing off against Sham in the finals this season. Both sides faced their own challenges throughout the year and had their ups and downs, but after the regular season as seeds 1 and 2, they find themselves head-to-head in the finals for the first time. Let's break down this matchup of the two best BISL squads ahead of the season finale.  

Samarra FC vs. Sham FC (9:00PM on Field 3)

Previous Matchups: MW4 4 -1 for Sham FC; MW9 4 - 3 for Samarra FC
Season Record (Place): Samarra FC 7-1-2 22 points (2nd); Sham FC 7-2-1 22 points (1st)
GF/GA/GD: Samarra FC 39/25/14; Sham FC 37/20/17
Top Goalscorers: Samarra FC - Murtaza Tirmizi (13); Sham FC - Ahmad Alvi (10)
Recent Form: Samarra FC - W,W,D,W,W; Sham FC - W,L,W,L,W
Projected Starting VI:
          Samarra FC - Hassan Syed; Hussam Ayubi, Umer Jabbar; Ali Wadee, Khizer Shahzad; Murtaza Tirmizi
          Sham FC - Omer Chaudhry; Hassan Chaudhry, Asif Ibn Rehana; Muhammad Shah, Ahmad Alvi; Ali Chaudhry

The time has come to crown a new champion. The finals for the first time will not feature Hejaz or Jerusalem, with the throne moving to North to a new home. For the first time in their franchise histories, Samarra and Sham will contend in the final to bring glory to their clubs after 3 rigorous years in the league. On the contrary, the familiar Muhammad Shah continues to return to the finals every season; This time leading in orange. The finals will once again feature Hashim Ghazi, who has only tasted success and glory in his career winning 3 out of 3 finals and as the probabilities speak, likely his 4th. On the other sidelines, we will see another familiar face but this time in sweat suit with Zahid Merchant coaching his new squad. 

Samarra FC have been the best team this season with an unmatched work rate and chemistry but will be without their trailblazer, Danish Khan. The club and supporters will turn to Khizer Shazad to emerge victorious in their greatest run ever under GM Umer Jabbar. After sweeping Anatolia 8-2 on aggregate, their momentum may be enough to dig their way through to gold. Sham has built their own momentum with an 8-3 victory in their last match against a very sturdy side as they left stains of ‘unstoppableness’ all over the pitch. However, from what we have seen this season, consistency doesn’t always shadow the team. For Sham, Kamil Lotia has been the lad that brings the cutting edge and Ali Wadee is the guy that dulls opponent attacks for Samarra. These 2 are your X-factors for a very promising final. Sham may have an inside edge with Hamza Waheed, a former Samarra player, giving his teammates insider information from his time with the club earlier this year. He has been a energy guy off the bench for Sham since he joined the club. 

In between the pipes we have Omer Chaudary in Orange and Hassan Syed in Black. By the way, orange will never be the new black. Comparing the two keepers, we would give Syed the upper hand but his spiraling unpredictability takes a star off his sticker board. The Samarian defensive partnership of Hussam Ayubi and Umair Ashraf has being one that came from nothing to stardom whereas Sham came into the season with a reputable partnership at the back with Hassan Chaudry and Asif ibn Rehana. Both duos have done stellar work for their keepers but the development in Samara have given them an edge in other positions from draft day. That edge that may have been nullified with the absence of Danish. If Sham can put in the same performance they did last week they will win the league, but if they don’t, Samarra’s work rate and chemistry will see them through any difficultly Sham will pose. For the first time in history, 50 minutes and 1 final opponent stand between the ambitions of these 2 clubs…to rule BISL.

There is one thing for certain, both teams will be ready at 9PM this Sunday.

Semi-final Leg #2 Rumours

We head into the second leg of the semis in anticipation of what the finals have in store. Will Jerusalem reach their fourth consecutive final, or will Sham pull off the comeback to move on. On the other side, Samarra have a strangle hold over their semi but Anatolia are hoping they can turn the tables with their Captain returning to the squad. We head into the penultimate week of the season with two finals spots up for grabs. 
Anatolia FC vs. Samarra FC : 0-3 after First Leg (8:45PM on Field 3)
Anatolia were dealt a heavy blow last match losing 3-0 against Samarra in the opening leg. The first half seemed everly poised with Samarra leading 1-0 on a Murtaza Tirmizi strike and Anatolia getting quality chances. Anatolia were without Captain and playmaker Zain Khilji which forced the canaries to play on the counter. Samarra dominated possession and had plenty of odd man chances but uncharacteristically could not finish. Khizer Shahzad doubled their lead and then added a third in the dying seconds as Anatolia were all caught in the offensive zone. Anatolia will have their work cut out for them if they want to reach their maiden finals and not fall in the semis for the third time. They will need a win by at least three if they want to force penalties. Anatolia have scored three against Samarra twice this year already so putting a few past the redblacks shouldn't be the issue, it will be containing their offense that will cause them the most difficulty. Samarra have not been shut out this year and have only been held to a single goal once. Anatolia are expecting to get Captain Zain Khilji back in the squad which will be much needed if they are going to save their season. Samarra on the other hand would need to be thoroughly outplayed if they are going to give up their finals ticket. It would be unlike Samarra to park the bus so Anatolia should atleast have a chance at turning this into a contest. Anatolia will need an early goal to put the pressure on their opponents but a lead by Samarra would almost put an end to Anatolia's season. The first 15 minutes will be crucial for both sides. 
Projected Starting VI: 
     Anatolia FC - H. Afzal; R. Merchant, S. Ahmad; N. Shihab, Z. Khilji, N. Rehman
     Samarra FC - H. Syed; H. Ayubi, A. Wadee; K. Shahzad, D. Khan; S.M. Tirmizi

Jerusalem FC vs. Sham FC : 1-0 after First Leg (9:45PM on Field 3)
After a very tight-knit affair that saw both teams a one goal game last Sunday, expect much of the same last week. Both goalkeepers held their ground in the first leg with a key saves and the defenders were all over the pitch. The lone goal came off a free kick from Taqi Ahmed that was softly redirected by Jibran Waqar into the back corner. There were no open play goals as both teams gave no open space to the opposition. Sham, however, dominated possession and had some quality chances but could not get them on target. Jerusalem played exactly to the manager's tactical gameplan as they got the early goal and then sat back protecting the lead. They have held Sham scoreless now for a 100 minutes over their last two matches, however it is only a matter of time before Sham finds a breakthrough. Jerusalem cannot expect to hold Sham scoreless again and will need to plan for another goal that could seal the deal. Both teams have had a couple weeks to recover from a difficult first leg and fine tune their gameplans. Jerusalem are expected to field a full squad even though they have a few players nursing injuries. Sham are expected to be without Asif Ibn Rehana for this crucial encounter. Expect Sham to come out blazing with a new gameplan and targetting an early goal. Sham have plenty of big game players that must step up to the big stage. Jerusalem on the other hand have experience and composure with a group that have been here before and won't panic when the match starts. It all comes down to the final 50 minutes. 
Projected Starting VI:
     Jerusalem FC - B. Jeelany; A. Mian, S. Limbada; S. Dadabhoy, N. Bari; T. Ahmad
     Sham FC - O. Chaudhry; H. Chaudhry, H. Ghazi; A. Alvi, M. Shah; A. Chaudhry

By 10:45PM on Sunday, only two teams will remain standing in the most competitive season in BISL to date – the next chapter awaits.

Semi-final Leg #1 Rumours

The season has come to a close, and now the real fun commences. Our fourth regular season featured a back-and-forth between Sham and Samarra for top spot all season, with the tangerines clinching first place on goal difference with a win this past Sunday. Sunday's real drama came in the battle for fourth, as Hejaz put on one of the most magnificent offensive displays in BISL history to make up a big goal deficit, but Shaheen Limbada, as he often does, came up clutch for JFC to score a game-tying goal in the final few minutes to seal their berth in the second season.
Both Hejaz and Andalusia suffered a lot of bad luck, losing top picks and AGMs to keepers early in the season and having to put together teams that couldn't build the chemistry needed to go on a run. Credit to both GMs for keeping their teams motivated week-in/week-out, and we hope to see the players for each respective team next year. Here's how the semis are shaping up for the remaining four sides.

Jerusalem FC vs. Sham FC : First Leg (8:45PM on Field 3)

Previous Matchups: MW2 2 -2; MW7 2 - 0 for Jerusalem FC
Season Record (Place): Jerusalem FC 2-6-2 12 points (4th); Sham FC 7-1-2 22 points (1st)
GF/GA/GD: Jerusalem FC 24/23/1; Sham FC 37/20/17
Top Goalscorers: Jerusalem FC - Jibran Waqar (7); Sham FC - Ali Chaudhry/Ahmad Alvi (10)
Projected Starting VI:
     Jerusalem FC - B. Jeelany; A. Mian, S. Limbada; S. Dadabhoy, N. Bari; T. Ahmad
     Sham FC - O. Chaudhry; H. Chaudhry, A. Ibn Rehana; A. Alvi, M. Shah; A. Chaudhry

Heading into the season, Jerusalem was viewed as the best team on paper to many. They had leadership, championship pedigree and a high soccer IQ. The one drawback was lacking a pure finisher, but the goals were bound to come from somewhere - as they always do in six-a-side. However, such was not the case and JFC found themselves relying on an impressive rookie season from a guy that's never played in a tooth league before and an old friend who joined via trade midseason for a huge percentage of their goals. The team will no doubt bring up a lack of scoring as being their downfall, and it almost led to their demise if not for Limbada's vital equalizer at the end of their last match. Jerusalem are in the playoffs though, and are confident in their ability to beat any of the other playoff teams on a given night. The question becomes how they'll do it - do they try to go more defensive in hopes of getting a counter that Taqi Ahmad can finish? Do they play a more open game and continue to rely on a high number of quality chances being set up in hopes of at least some of them going in? Do they drop the idea of having a 'positionless' side with every guy of their starting six being able to interchange in role, and just build defined roles for the next three weeks? Who knows - having a number of approaches to matches has been this team's strength all year, but will lacking an identity prove to be their downfall?

After a stretch most would call far from dominant in the second half of the season, Sham ended the season at the top of the table - a first for the side. Credit Muhammad Shah for turning the identity of the club around and taking them from worst to first in the span of twelve months. However, Shah would be the first to tell you that he couldn't care less where his team finished, as long as it was in the top four and kept him in line with his ultimate goal - a championship. The team has shown some vulnerabilities in 2018 though, namely in their matchup against Jerusalem in January. They can expect more of the same aggression, intensity and defensive structure from JFC over the next two legs, and have been working on how to avoid being in the position they were in when they lost 2-0. There have obviously been bright spots (unless you ask Asif Ibn Rehana, who - for the betterment of the team - always finds something they can do better as a unit no matter the performance). Ahmad Alvi and Ali Chaudhry have been formidable up front, building their chemistry by the week and sharing the scoring load for the side. Also, late addition Hamza Waheed has added a new dimension to the team with his energy, attitude and physicality. Look for Sham to focus on playing their style of football against their baby blue foe, but if they build a lead, do they have the defensive attitude to maintain it over the second leg?

Jerusalem and Sham are very familiar with each other and if their previous matchups is any indication, this will be a low scoring/grind-it-out type of game.  

Anatolia FC vs. Samarra FC : First Leg (9:45PM on Field 3)

Previous Matchups: MW1 7 -4 for Samarra FC; MW5 5 - 3 for Samarra FC
Season Record (Place): Anatolia FC 5-0-5 (3rd); Samarra FC 7-1-2 (2nd)
GF/GA/GD: Anatolia FC 35/38/-3; Samarra FC 39/25/14
Top Goalscorers: Anatolia FC - Nehad Shihab (10); Samarra FC - Murtaza Tirmizi (13)
Projected Starting VI: 
     Anatolia FC - H. Afzal; R. Merchant, S. Ahmad; N. Shihab, Z. Khilji, N. Rehman
     Samarra FC - H. Syed; H. Ayubi, U. Ashraf; K. Shahzad, D. Khan; S.M. Tirmizi

Anatolia had nothing to play for this past Sunday, having locked up third place no matter the outcome. With GM Zain Khilji and top-rate defender Rizvan Merchant out of the side, the Canaries focused on just getting some reps in before the games start to matter. They welcome back both and look to play spoiler as the underdog against Samarra in the semis. This Anatolia side is different than those we've seen in the past. With the introduction of Nasir Rehman into the side, they found a box-to-box player who perfectly compliments the playing style of Khilji and MVP Candidate Nehad Shihab. Originally drafted as a defender, Rehman's style found to be better suited as an engine in the midfield for his team, and has not looked back with a formidable campaign leading the League in assists. Also, the midseason acquisition of the aforementioned Merchant finally gives the Turks a top-tier defender they've lacked in year's past. However, the team's ethos remains attack, attack, attack and with an early injury to all-star keeper Umair Sheikh (who actually has reinvented himself as a very good forward after the injury), look to keep that offensive philosophy going heading into the playoffs. In their matchup they face the other offensive juggernaut in the League, and recognize that if any team can go toe-to-toe with them in an offensive suggest, it's the Samarrans. Look for the Canaries to try and open up the game early, and try and coerce their opponents into going goal-for-goal in a back and forth affair. However, if Anatolia get a quality result after the first leg, do they have the mentality and structure to bank on their defence to protect it and see it through onto the final?

Samarra have dominated sides all through the season, and looked well on their way to locking up top spot on Sunday, only to have it spoiled and have them fall to second. The boys in black have been the best team all season despite sitting second in the table, and look to convert their superb play into some silverware. The STK trio rivals that of Hejaz last year as the best we've seen in the League, and can beat you many ways. However, the defense has been above average all year as well, with Hussam Ayubi, Umair Ashraf, Hassan Syed and Umer Jabbar marshalling the backline. Midseason acquisition Syed has been holding his own in net the past few weeks, and looks to don the gloves for the playoff run. Hassan hasn't played keeper in the past, but his understanding of positioning and distribution of the ball makes him an asset to the side. The Redblacks will have their hands full against the offense-heavy Anatolia, and the key to their success will lie in being able to control the tempo of the match. When their front three are clicking, they are unstoppable, and there is no doubt their opponents will have their hands full come Sunday. The concern, if any, for this team is they meet likely the only team in the League that can match their offensive verve. Samarra have scored at will this year, but it all starts with having a respectable backline to hold it down. Will they be able to maintain the relative balance, or will they be inclined to play an all-out attack and risk losing shape?

Their previous matchups aren't a good indicator of what to expect this Sunday as Anatolia has turned their season around since they last met. The biggest concern for both sides would be injuries as Zain Khilji and Rizvan Merchant haven't suited up for the squad on about a month while Samarra are without Zeem Khan. 

The first leg of the semis kicks off this Sunday. It all starts at 8:45PM. LET’S GO.

Week 10 Rumours

We have reached the last chapter of the regular season with three playoff spots locked up and one up for grabs. Samarra has a chance to lock up the #1 seed for the first time in league history with full points this Sunday. Hejaz has a outside chance to sneak into the playoffs but they will need lots of help. Here are the matchups for this Sunday. 

Jerusalem FC vs.  Samarra FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Jerusalem FC
Jerusalem FC will be disappointed with a draw against Andalusia last week which could have been the match to see them through to the playoffs. They must certainly be relieved to take home a point to push Hejaz into a tiebreaker position if things go wrong in the last game of the season. The blues will surely call upon Atif Mian, who has missed a couple key games to make their case stronger as they hold on to the last playoff spot. Mian plays a crucial role in the squad and his involvement allows GM Saqib Dadaboy more freedom on the pitch and more options to execute. This team has an abundance of talent with the likes of Shaheen Limbada and Taqi Ahmed and we are the surprised to see the champions in their current state. Although they did well to not lose many games, they didn’t manage to win many either as they are set a record for the most draws in a season (5) with 1 game to play. That last game is against the first place Samarra and a 6th draw would be good enough to secure their spot in the final 4. A loss would give Hejaz traction to force a tiebreaker on goal differential which the blues have a barely comfortable lead with +7. If Jerusalem are able to hold on to their spot, they will likely see Samarra in the 2-legged semis and this week could be the beginning of a new strategy.

Samarra FC
Samarra FC have taken over the league now sitting comfortably in first place after a revenging victory against former league leaders Sham. It has been well deserved with consistent play all season from every player and they proved they can be a force without their talisman Khizer Shahzad last week. Danish Khan is in top form scoring a couple goals and management would be thrilled to see him fill Khizer and Syed Murtaza’s void on the scoresheet. Zeem Khan has stepped up in time for the second season also contributing 2 goals to the winning cause. We’ve said it from the start that Ali Wadee has been the rough behind the shine and continues to work relentlessly to keep his team on the front foot in every match. The blacks have put the best offensive numbers in the league this season and their trio can go head to head with any other across the league including their 2 possible semi final matchups vs. Jerusalem or Anatolia. If Samarra hold on to their top spot they will see Jerusalem in their way to the finals and to guarantee that, they will have to take all 3 points them this weekend. We see Samarra as the favorites for the championship but GM Umer Jabbar knows they can’t be overconfident. We are interested to see how they will approach the last game of season in preparation for the inception of the playoffs.

Hejaz FC vs. Andalusia FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Hejaz FC 
Hejaz FC were defeated in a valiant effort against Anatolia where the team gave it their all. They played with great organization but fell short to the opponent’s brilliance and on another day, the team would have taken 3 points from their performance. Usman Aslam has taken a very important leadership role in the squad providing the solidity they need at the back and an impulse to push the forwards to keep the pressure on. One thing these guys are good at is taking their shots. They can certainly score from distance on any open look and its just a matter of how close the ball is to the target. GM Ibrahim Sardar provides a reliable option in goal and provides insights that Usman cannot predict. From where they stand now, the playoffs are still a possible idea. Hejaz are 3 points and 7 goals behind Jerusalem and the final playoff spot, but the interesting bit is that Hejaz play last place team Andalusia and Jerusalem play first place team Samarra. Andalusia has improved as of late and will be playing for their pride which won’t make it any easier for Hejaz, especially when they are relying on Samarra to beat Jerusalem by more than 3 goals. Nonetheless, it is possible. Hejaz will need their talisman A K to take the team’s performance to the next level if they want to keep their season alive

Andalusia FC
Andalusia FC double their points on the season with a spoiling draw against Jerusalem as the players try to end the season with some pride and hopeful contracts for next year. The headline explains it all, but to be fair to the club, they were forced to make many changes in the squad throughout the season due to injuries. They were desperate to find some way to catch the last train to playoffs by initiating a trade and acquiring MVP Omar Sheikh temporarily. Although they are out of luck for the second season, they have all the ingredients it takes to stop Hejaz from doing so as well this weekend. The team’s situation will still make them feel relevant as they are given the opportunity to take another team down with them. Sameer Masood and Shahryar Khan put in great performances to compliment Omar for the tie, but still need to do more defensively for their first win on the last day. There is much GM Junaid Mirza has achieved this season and should be proud of the role he has played at this club. It’s not easy constantly having to replace players in the squad and finding ways make it all fit while staying competitive. Junaid also managed to pull off the first mid-season trade in BISL history. We know Andalusia will be among the competition next year and this weekend they will show that they should have been this year.   

Sham FC vs. Anatolia FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Sham FC
Sham FC missed their opportunity to lock up first place last week against the now first place Samarra. It was definitely one of the greatest matches this season with both teams going for the win and as a result, both teams have become stronger. Ahmed Alvi had a brilliant night scoring a hat-trick including 2 solo goals which is good news for the squad as it adds another option in front of goal. Sham have a diversity of options when it comes to player selection and it’s one of their unique strengths being able to play different strategies with the different qualities each player brings to the squad. GM Mohammed Shah is well aware of what his team can and cannot do and has surely learned from the previous encounter with Anatolia. With second place locked up, the tangerines still have first place to play for with only 2 points and 1 goal behind league leaders Samarra. If things stay the same, their matchup in the semis will be against Anatolia which Shah would surely want to avoid. Playing them just before the playoffs will give the team a feel on how to approach the matchup and definitely ready the defense and Omer Chaudhry for the second season.   

Anatolia FC
Anatolia FC clinched their playoff spot last week with another convincing win while proving they can now control their goals against tallies. The canaries have looked a different team after the break and it seems they have put away the uncertainties and experiments to finally find the best form in franchise history. In fact, the club has won every game since Rizvan Merchant signed and Hasan Afzal transitioned to keeper. With their defender and goalkeeper situation solved, their offence is now very-capable of outscoring their opponents. Nehad Shihab is in top form defending from the back to scoring goals while Nasir continues to create chances with his intricate play. GM Zain Khilji was placed on the injured reserves list after suffering an ankle injury against Hejaz and will miss the last game of season with no timeline of return. Having played just 6 games this season, Zain was backed by Umair Sheikh who has excelled as a striker after his transition from goalie. With third place locked up and 2nd place just out of reach, Anatolia come into this last game with nothing to lose and only to gain momentum and form for the playoffs as they make their first convincing take on the championship. Their last game against Sham could be practice for a likely semifinal matchup between the 2 teams. Sham can help their chances at a better matchup with a win and a Samarian loss. 

Week 9 Rumours

We head into the penultimate week after the super bowl break with plenty up for grabs. The #1 seed and two playoff spots still need to be decided with two games to play. Needless to say, there are some very important games this week. 

Anatolia FC vs. Hejaz FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Anatolia FC
Anatolia are starting to find form right before the second season and that should worry their opponents. The Canaries sit comfortably four points up on a playoff spot and can lock in their spot this Sunday with a victory. Anatolia have had their usual roller coaster season with disappointing losses and surprising victories. The biggest surprise has been the upfront play of Umair Sheikh who has four goals and in five games since he was released from the mesh cage. Anatolia carry five players with three or more goals which gives them a balanced attack. However, they still haven't found a suitable replacement in net as Hasan Afzal tried playing goal last game and will likely get another start to see if the experiment works. Rizvan Merchant has provided stability to their back two which should provide Hasan with plenty of protection. A starting lineup of Zain, Nehad, Umair/Mohammed along with Riz and first overall pick Nasir give them a formidable opening. Their bench may not be as deep as other teams but their top talent is unquestionable one of the league's best. They face off against Hejaz who are chasing the final playoff spot with everything to play for this week. 

Hejaz FC
Hejazi's come into the penultimate week two points back of the final playoff spot and their season on the line. They come into this game having played quality footy against the league's top sides. They were able to steal a victory from Samarra in the final minutes a few weeks ago and then had an early lead against Sham that they failed to protect. The biggest trouble for the manager has been the inconsistent attendance of their players over the first 8 weeks. Hejaz is the final team to not play a match with a full 10 men. If there was a time for everyone to show up, it would be this week with their season on the line. Rookie Muhammad Chabayta has garnered plenty of attention with his right foot but fans want to see him use it more often especially this week against an untested goalie. Omar El-Askalany is expected back this week and they will need his creativity to break down Anatolia's defence. Hejaz are chasing Anatolia and Jerusalem for the final playoff spot with an all important match up against Anatolia, followed by their final match against Andalusia. Even if Hejaz win both their final matches, they could still miss out. However, with two victories, they have more than a 50% chance of getting in since Jerusalem play Samarra in their final match and Anatolia have Sham in the final week. It's do or die time for Hejaz. 

Samarra FC vs. Sham FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Samarra FC
Samarra enter the final two weeks of the season having locked up a playoff spot and are only playing for the top seed now. And there is no better opportunity than this week when they face off against league leaders Sham. The last time these two squads met, Sham dominated the match with a convincing 4-1 victory. Samarra has learnt a lot about themselves since and will need to make a statement this week to carry the momentum into the second season. Samarra have been shorthanded without top players like Danish Khan and Khizer Shahzad in the last two matches but they expect to have a full complement of players for this Sunday's clash. Samarra have a difficult schedule to close out the season which should prepare them for playoff soccer. The Red black's haven't been scoring at the same rate as they did earlier in the season and it is no coincidence that their two losses have come in games where they have scored less than three goals. Look for the Samarra offence to get going again this week if they get back to top form. 

Sham FC
The league leaders since week 4 have a chance to lock up the top seed this week in their matchup against #2 seed Samarra. Sham are still considered the team to beat regardless of the outcome this Sunday but supporters must be worried about the recent run of form by the club. The Tangerines were blowing through sides earlier this season but since they almost blew a three goal lead against Anatolia, they have suffered a loss and sqeaked past Hejaz to hold on to the lead. Sham expect to have the younger Chaudhry brothers back after some controversy over why they missed their last match. Some claimed it was a wedding, others said it was injury, we concluded they got injury at the buffet of the wedding. The club faces another tough match up next week against Anatolia which might be a preview of the semis. Sham have all the talent in the world and have a few gamebreakers that turn a match on its head. They will get a playoff preview this week and you can expect GM Muhammad Shah will have his group ready for the challenge that awaits. 

Andalusia FC vs. Jerusalem FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Andalusia FC
The Spaniards come into the final two weeks of the season just looking to earn a victory after a disappointing campaign. Injuries seem to plague Andalusia every year and this year it infected newcomer Altamash Khan along with AGM Humeid Masood. GM Junaid Mirza has run out of ideas after drafting a competitive squad but never seeing everyone take the pitch together. After being eliminted from the playoffs last match, they have no choice but to play spoiler in the final two weeks. This week they face off against Jerusalem who are looking for a victory to secure a playoff spot. Andalusia new addition Omar Sheikh gets an opportunity to play against his former squad. Last week Junaid Mirza gave up his gloves to try playing forward which gave Fahim Karamat a chance to showcase his cat-like reflexes. He allowed three goals so it is unclear whether he will get another chance in goal. Andalusia have a chance to forget all the lows of the season with a big high if they can provide the upset this week.

Jerusalem FC 
JFC head into the final two weeks with a short grip on the final playoff spot. Sitting two points clear of Hejaz, they need three points on Sunday to control their destiny in the final week. After upsetting top club Sham a few weeks ago, they stumbled against Anatolia to give up third spot in the standings. With a matchup against Samarra in the final week, Jerusalem management must be looking at this week's fixture as a must win. Jerusalem has been disappointing in the final third of the pitch with only 17 goals in 8 games. The big trade for Taqi Ahmed was made to spark their offense but it hasn't result in many more goals. Jibran Waqar has been their top goal scorer. They will need more than two goals if they want to compete against the top clubs. Their defence has been stingy enough to hold the team in matches, having only lost one game by two goals. GM Saqib Dadabhoy has been playing the captains role, playing in multiple positions to allow everyone to fit in their natural position. Atif Mian has been promoted to forward to try to find another goalscorer. Supporters are wondering if Shaheen Limbada will get a chance at the striker role with is booming left boot. Time has come for Jerusalem to step it into the next gear against Andalusia.

Team Charities

Brotherhood Soccer runs as a non-profit organization and donates all proceeds from the league to make an impact off the pitch. Each team picks a charity to represent during the season and all proceeds will be donated to these worthy causes.

Here are the 2017-18 team charities as selected by the teams:

Anatolia FC : 
Muslim Welfare Centre
Andalusia FC: 
Islamic Relief
Hejaz FC: 
Nisa Homes
Jerusalem FC: 
Samarra FC: 
ICNA Food Bank
Sham FC: 

Week 8 Rumours

We head into matchweek 8 with the playoff race heating up. Andalusia have only last ditch attempt if they can run the table for their final games. Meanwhile, Hejaz along with Jerusalem and Anatolia are in the thick of things with a few points separating them. The biggest matchup this week is Jerusalem v Anatolia that could swing the standings. Important match-ups across the board this week before we take the super bowl break. Team rosters are final so teams need to be cautious with injuries as well. 

Samarra FC vs. Andalusia FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Samarra FC
Samarra suffered its second defeat of the season at the hands of Hejaz last week. After going down 2-0 early, they clawed back to tie the match, only to give up a game winning with less than seven minutes to go. The defeat was extra tough to swallow since a win would've given them command of top spot in the League after Sham lost earlier. The front trifecta of STK (Shahzad-Tirmizi-Khan) continues to put numbers on the board, but alas it just wasn't enough this past Sunday. Hussam Ayubi has became the club's first choice goalkeeper with the departure of Hamza Waheed, and his place in the defense is filled gracefully by top-tier defender Hassan Syed. While losing the ability to play it out from the back that Ayubi offered in defense earlier this year is no doubt a concern, Syed offers superb quality in his own right to play a similar role for the Redblacks. This team has put in the most dominant displays of any during the season, and they look to further cement their place as one of the favourites to win the League with a matchup versus Andalusia this week. The squad will be without league leader Khizer Shahzad as he departs for Pakistan in search of a bride (or so we are told). Murtaza Tirmizi will be expected to step up and play more of a midfield role to fill the void of his fellow mate. 

Andalusia FC
After the Blues suffered yet another major injury this year, this time to AGM Humeid Masood, GM Junaid Mirza finally realized it was time. He was tired of his team being subject to massive opposing shorelines and was ready to flip the League on its head and take drastic measures that put the safety of every defender and keeper in the League in harm's way. Much to the surprise of the rest of the GMs, Mirza built up his courage and made his way down to facility where we keep "him." Junaid took a deep breath, read his duas, and turned the key to unlock the door. In doing so, he unleashed "him" - the menacing attacker who salivates at the opportunity of one v ones and counter attacks. The man who breaks records more than he breaks a sweat with his superior fitness and goalscoring tallies. Ladies (do ladies even read this?) and Gentlemen - "him" is Omar Sheikh, and he is back. Sheikh finds himself back in town for a few weeks from the west coast and now features in a darker hue of blue than he's used to. Sheikh and co. look to play spoilers against Samarra this week, with hopes of some other results going their way to inch them closer to latch ditch effort to make the playoffs.

Anatolia FC vs. Jerusalem FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Anatolia FC
Zain Khilji did something we never thought he'd do. After years of drafting "defenders" like Nehad Shihab and Nasir Rehman (who are as much "defenders" as Sunny Delight is "orange juice"), he finally went ahead and picked up a real defender in Rizvan Merchant. The Regulator has everything you'd want in a defender - he's quick, he's assertive, and he knows when to join the attack. It adds a brand new element to the Canaries, as Rizzy could become the guy they need to finally balance their side. First overall pick Nasir Rehman continues to make his mark on the League with some commanding displays, and Nehad keeps putting up gaudy offensive numbers. Khilji himself hasn't had a bad season by any means, but he expects more from himself given how potent he has been in year's past. Everyone in the League knows he has another gear he's yet to display this season, and now may be the time to shift into it with his team being chased by a reinvigorated Hejaz side for the final playoff spot. The Turks come off a seven-goal barrage last week, and face a far more defensively-oriented side in Jerusalem this Sunday, where the goals won't come easily. 

Jersusalem FC
Jerusalem have had an interesting season. A team with this level of quality rarely finds themselves six points off the top of the table. However, the Sky Blues went to the tactics board in a big matchup versus Sham last week, and put in a near perfect performance to see out a quality 2-0 win against the league leaders. Credit to GM Saqib Dadabhoy and his squad for putting in a gritty display that Sham evidently had no answer to. JFC pulled off a big trade a few weeks ago and the dividends appeared almost immediately, with Taqi Ahmed scoring a brace in the big win. They cannot rest on their laurels yet though, as they need to get a few more wins on the season to guarantee their spot in the playoffs. While we've seen varying performances from the side to date, I guarantee you that nobody wants to face them in the playoffs. This team is built for the second season, and have the experience, skill, and intelligence to beat anyone and repeat as champions. Guys like Atif Mian, Shaheen Limbada, Furhan Azmat, Arshad Chowdhury and Dadabhoy have featured in title winning sides before, and know what they are capable of when their season is on the line. They gave the League a reminder of that last week and hope to see their winning ways continue this week against Andalusia.

Hejaz FC vs. Sham FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Hejaz FC
The Hejazis show semblances of the late season turnaround they put forward in their previous campaign. Coming in as a heavy underdog against Samarra last week, the team got out to a lead early after some inspiring play from young whiz Omar El-Askalany and never looked back. Los Blancos front three feature an "Earth, Wind and Fire" presence, with differing styles coming together to form a formidable trio. You have Mohammad Chabayta who is a tree of a man, using his size and strength to hold off defenders as the "Earth"; the aforementioned El-Askalany offering speed and craft as the " wind"; and the fire obviously coming from the intense and aggressive leadership of AK. Throw in the superlative keeping of GM Ibrahim Sardar, and it's a shock these guys find themselves barely out of the playoffs heading into their matchup against Sham. Hejaz came together to get an impressive three points against one of the top teams in the League last week, and look to continue their winning ways against table-leaders Sham this week.

Sham FC 
After some close calls, Sham finally fell victim to an opponent, getting outhustled and outplayed by Jerusalem in a 2-0 defeat. Avid supporters of the League knew this was a long time coming, as some close calls against Hejaz and Anatolia displayed some chinks in the armour. However, maybe this was the wake-up call the Orange needed. Lost in the dazzling displays of the front line has been the impressive composure from first-choice defensive pairing Hassan Chaudhry and Asif Ibn Rehana; the two compliment each other well with their differing styles, and have been a large reason why Sham have been able to win the games they have. The only drawback these two face is being forced to partner with Hashim Ghazi for a few minutes a match. Another component falling under the radar has been the play of Ahmad Alvi and Kamil Lotia. Both have been the team's Swiss army knives, playing wherever needed to best set their team up for victory. However, with some key players missing this week, we may finally see what these two have to offer in feature roles in the side. Both offer superb quality on the ball, and we are excited to finally see them unleashed this week in their positions of preference. Sham look to get back to their winning ways against Hejaz this week.

Week 7 Rumours

Matchweek seven is here. This week Sham faces off against Jerusalem in a crucial match for JFC in the playoff race. Andalusia have one last hope at keeping their playoff hopes alive against Anatolia while Samarra chase the top of the table against a Hejaz squad rallying after their first win. 

The player movement deadline is this Sunday. Four transactions to announce from week 7: 

Ahmer Maqsood of Hejaz FC withdraws due to personal reasons. Hejaz FC pick Raza Zahoor as their replacement player. 
Muzammil Murad of Andalusia FC withdraws due to a knee injury. Andalusia FC pick Farhan Karamat as their replacement player. 
Humeid Masood of Andalusia FC withdraws due to a hamstring injury. Andalusia FC haven't picked their replacement player yet. 
Taher Mirza of Anatolia FC withdraws due to an injury. Anatolia FC haven't picked their replacement player yet. 

Sham FC vs. Jerusalem FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Sham FC
Sham FC keep their top spot in a hard-fought victory against the Anatolians as they have their eyes set on locking up a first-round bye. They will hope it doesn’t end up being Anatolia as their previous matchup proved to be a handful, but that’s exactly what they needed. A match like that will give the squad more form and structure to put in well-rounded performances in the playoffs. Despite the amount of chances created for the team, they were only able to put away six and it could and should have easily been 10. Since Ali Chaudhry made his debut for Sham, he has been a nuisance to the league with his athleticism and poaching capabilities, which gives Muhammad Shah a more relaxed role in the team that has translated a gain in his performances as well. All 3 Chaudhry brothers are vital to the team’s success and their commitment to the club could very well be rewarded with the BISL Cup. With a very convincing goals-against record (11 in 6 games), this team certainly has what it takes to win it all. With a matchup against the tailgating Samarra in the second last week of the season, Sham still have a lot to hold on to as they look to continue their undefeated run against Jerusalem.

Jerusalem FC
Jerusalem FC were handed their first defeat of season last week but the headline isn't as good as it sounds. The champions managed to win only 1 game while drawing 4 which makes it evident that the squad is lacking that cutting edge to put them over the line. Management recognized that and went to the transfer market to sign a familiar Taqi Ahmed in order to spark creativity in the squad. With top talents Shaheen Limbada and Atif Mian around Taqi, they predicted an increased amount of opportunities to score for the duo and GM Saqib Dadabhoy. Although they lost their first game of season, it's too early to claim the trade made them worse, especially when Taqi got himself on the score sheet. The greatest strength in the squad is their versatility with players being able to play anywhere on the pitch and it's up to management to find the right combination in time to catch the playoffs. Goalkeeper Basil Jeelany has been the reason Jerusalem hasn't been falling short of a draw and his performances could deem crucial in the dying moments of the season. With teams trailing just a couple points behind, this next game against the league leaders will be crucial. Full attendance is required.  

Anatolia FC vs. Andalusia FC(8:45PM on Field 4)

Anatolia FC
Anatolia FC fell short once again in another exciting end-to-end match our commentators are titling “The Climb”. It’s been typical of Anatolia to cheaply concede early and find themselves in a hole at half time but this hole was as deep as 5-1 facing the top team in the league. The climb fell short at 5-4 as the continuous waves of attack left scars on the opposing goal frame but wasn’t sharp enough to pierce through the game sheet for a point or 3. The final score was 6-4 with a goal at the death and the Anatolians are suddenly doubtful to make the playoffs. The problem in the Nasir Rehman and Nehad Shihab are in pristine form contributing to each canary goal and management knows there isn’t much more they can do as humans. GM Zain Khilji was well below his standards finishing pointless on the evening as the team hopes he regains his focus after a long break from action. The critical position changes of Umair Shiekh and Riaz Murad has changed some dynamics, but the team will have to make a decision now if they want to avoid experimenting with playoff implications over their heads. This week they take on Andalusia who are playing for pride and love the idea of playing spoiler. 

Andalusia FC
Andalusia FC are down on one knee with only 1 point salvaged in 6 games and there aren’t many points left to salvage. The Spaniards were defeated by the nearby Hejazis who now join the next tier of teams to compete for the playoffs. The club made a bold move to trade away Taqi Ahmed and bring back Hassan Chaudhary in an attempt to rewire the squad currents for a season turnaround, but unfortunately blew a couple fuses. Muzzamil Murad and AGM Humeid Masood suffered season-ending injuries that have added to management woes, leaving GM Junaid Mirza in a tough spot to perhaps replace them or stand in front of an opposition shooting practice this Sunday vs Anatolia. Now depending on who the club manages to sign as replacement if needed, we could see a whole new team emerge especially with a replacement the calibre of a top round pick in Humeid. With Sameer Masood and Shahryar Khan still on board, there still might be enough time to challenge for a spot. Management will focus on what in front of them, one game at a time, but don’t rule Andalusia out yet.

Samarra FC vs. Hejaz FC  (9:45PM on Field 3)

Samarra FC
Samarra FC put in another convincing performance as they continue to make their mark as a top club at BISL. They are surely awaiting a chance at a rematch against league leaders Sham as they continue to push for that top playoff spot to increase their chances at the finals. The charge is being lead by Khizer Shahzad and being finished by Syed Murtaza Tirmizi who now has 10 goals to his name and the "premature" golden boot this year. There is something special about Samarra that is felt from all areas of the pitch and our understanding is it's cbeause the team is always on the same wavelength (and stand as the fittest and youngest squad in the League - we will give GM Umer Jabbar a bye). The Blacks were also active in the market this week, as they claimed Hassan Syed off waivers to strengthen their backline and chances at the title. Management seems to have done everything right and now await their chance to prove themselves against Sham in a few week's time. With the playoffs influencing teams to step up, Samarra can't afford to slip up if they want that top spot. Hejaz stand in their way this week.

Hejaz FC 
Hejaz FC have finally gained enough traction to pick up speed to reclaim their territory in the BISL playoffs. They currently sit one point shy of that recognition, but will need to get a grip if they are to make any progress against the ever-dangerous Samarra. With all the pieces that broke off having been replaced, and those that were missing have been found. Hejaz are at a stage where the glue is drying, and once it does the solidity will show results. With GM Ibrahim Sardar back in goal and Muhammad Chabayta onside, the team is as competitive as it was post-draft. The reliable A K and skillful Omar El-Askalany make this squad as dangerous as any top club and we are counting on them to produce top class goals in support of the league. The team has, up to now, been relatively stable at the back with Usman Aslam in charge, but somewhat dry when it comes to destabilizing other defenses. They will need to find ways to create more chances for the forwards if they are to beat the high scoring Samarrans. It all starts from the back and Hejaz can’t afford to have Muhammad and Omar rushing forward without looking back. Every result is still in their hands before the playoffs, as they work towards being in position of one of the top four teams to advance.

Week 6 Rumours

This week features new matchups across the board, with teams facing each other for the first time. It features a six-pointer at the bottom of the table, and features a potential for two teams to punch their ticket into the second season, and another facing the possibility of being all but eliminated. We have a few transactions to announce this week including a trade. 

Three transactions to announce from week 6: 

Andalusia trade Taqi Ahmed and Furhan Azmat to Jerusalem for Hassan Chaudhary and Raza Ali
Sham has Adeel Dosani withdraw for personal reasons; Samarra claim Hassan Syed off waivers and Sham choses Hamza Waheed to take in return
Hejaz has Ahmer Maqsood withdraw for personal reasons; Hejaz is still selecting their replacement

Jerusalem FC vs.  Samarra FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Jerusalem FC
JFC remains one of two undefeated teams but they find themselves squarely in the middle of the standings. The team has already broken the regular season record for draws with 4 ties in their first five games. GM Saqib Dadabhoy hasn’t been happy with the team’s performance and decided to swing a trade. The rookie GM wasted no time to make changes to his squad but the jury is out on whether the trade will solve their issues. Jerusalem brings back Taqi Ahmed and Furhan Azmat to the squad in an attempt to kick start their offense. Taqi is no stranger to the team after playing with them for the first two seasons. He will be trusted with the ball in mid-field and expected to set up Jerusalem strikers. While Furhan returns after his winning it all with the sky blues last year and will be asked to bring his hustle. The squad already has one of the stingiest defences and will be hoping this trade increases their goal tally. Jerusalem face off against Samarra for the first time this week. They will encounter one of the league’s premier offenses and need to score more goals if they want to come away with full points.

Samarra FC
Samarra got back to their high scoring ways last week after potting another five goals to run their tally to 22 at the midway point. Khizer Shahzad and Murtaza Tirmizi have scored multiple goals in every match with Danish Khan providing the through balls. All of their victories have been by multiple goals and they hope to continue that trend this week. They have yet to have a full squad and were once again short last week. The Samarrans got a superb goaltending performance last week from Hussam Ayubi which prompted them to make a move. Samarra selected Hassan Syed through waivers to shore up their defence which exposed Hamza Waheed and Umair Ashraf to Sham, Sham eventually ended up taking Hamza Waheed which means Hussam will be the goalie the rest of the way. Hassan Syed provides them a top defender to go along with their killer offense. Samarra face Jerusalem for the first time and will be in for a stern test against their defence. They don’t have a great historical record against JFC but this team has proven they are unlike any previous Samarra squad. Samarra will have additional motivation, with the ability to lock up a playoff spot with full points this week.

Sham FC vs. Anatolia FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Sham FC
Sham continued their torrid run with another impressive victory last week over Andalusia. Sham have steadily improved every week and have everyone comfortable in their roles at the half way point. While the club continues to improve, they also seem to be losing players every other week. This time Adeel Dosani had to withdraw for personal reasons. Their replacement of Hassan Syed was claimed through waivers by Samarra with Sham selecting Hamza Waheed in return. The club already benefitted from acquisitions shoring up their front line in Erdinc Semsik and Ali Chaudhry, and aim to further deepen their defence this week. Ali Chaudhry continued his goal scoring run for the club with another two last week. GM Muhammad Shah has benefitted from two veteran BSL GMs, Hashim Ghazi and Hassan Chaudhry, in his front office to help him through the salary cap and waiver wire system of Brotherhood – it obviously helps when your GM himself has been to three straight finals and leads the league in career points too, though. The club has been able to find a second gear whenever matches are close and pull away. That was again on display last week in a 1-1 tie before they erupted for five goals in the second half. This week they face off against Anatolia for the first time in what should be an entertaining matchup. Sham have only allowed seven goals thus far with stingy defence and steady keeping from Omer Chaudhry. They will more of the same to keep Anatolia off the scoreboard.  

Anatolia FC
Anatolia come into the second half of the season as the biggest disappointment thus far. After picking up stud defender Nasir Rehman, Anatolia was expected to have found their Big 3. However, injury and absences has brought disappointment and frustration for the Canaries. They are expected to have a full squad this week including GM Zain Khilji as they take on league leaders Sham FC. Anatolia have the firepower and talent to compete with the top clubs but as always their composure lets them down in critical moments. The club is hoping for a breakthrough game from early pick Mohammad Mahmood; MTM has a brilliant right foot but has struggled to find the net of late. If he can find the twine, their offense will add another dimension. Fill-in goalkeeper Riaz Murad has adjusted to his new position in net over the last few weeks after team doctors have ruled out Umair Sheikh putting on the gloves for the remainder of the season. Riaz should know the shot angles pretty well after coaching his son as a goalie in rep hockey. Anatolia get a golden opportunity to prove themselves as a top side against the league leaders. If they can earn full points this week, they will propel themselves into contending for the top two spots.  

Hejaz FC vs. Andalusia FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Hejaz FC 
Los Blancos currently sit in fifth place within striking distance of a playoff spot after taking a point last week against Jerusalem. This week they face off against the only team below them in the standings but a poor performance could find them in the basement. Hejaz made a move of their own, dropping absent player Ahmer Maqsood and we wait for their replacement. GM Ibrahim Sardar has had a difficult time managing the team through adversity but when asked about their upcoming match, he seemed confident the lads were on the verge of breaking the slump. Hejaz has shown individual brilliance on runs by Omar El-Askalany and Muhammad Chabayta but they haven’t been able to find the chemistry to string it all together. With seasoned vets like A K and Usman Aslam, they have all the pieces to compete. If there was ever a time to turn it around, it would be this Sunday. A victory would put them right behind the 4th spot, a tie would mean they will have to do heavy lifting against the league’s best teams while a loss would be disastrous to their playoff hopes  

Andalusia FC
See you at the crossroads, so you won’t be lonely… Andalusia and Hejaz both find themselves at the crossroads of the season. With only one point to show through five games, Andalusia cannot afford to giveaway any points to one of the two teams they are chasing. GM Junaid Mirza recognized the need to change and pulled the trigger on 2 for 2 deal, acquiring Hassan Chaudhary and Raza Ali for Taqi Ahmed and Furhan Azmat. While Taqi is the most talented player in trade, he skill just did not translate to goals, and putting on the jersey where he made his most memorable impacts in the leagues may reignite his form. Andalusia needed a change in formation and decided to bring in two hustle players to replace the ball carrier. Hassan Chaudhary has missed multiple games so Junaid must know something about his availability before pulling off the trade. Raza Ali comes as a reliable goal scorer that played well with Sameer and Humeid a few years ago. The shake up should put the rest of the team on alert that changes will come if results don’t. It all starts this Sunday in an all important match against Hejaz.  

Week 5 Rumours

As we restart Season 4 after the holiday break, every team still has a shot at the post-season. The post season schedule has been modified based on your feedback, details are below:

Final regular season game - Feb 25
Semi-final Leg #1 - Mar 4
Semi-final Leg #2 - Mar 18
Finals - Mar 25

Andalusia FC vs.  Sham FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Andalusia FC
The Spaniards come back from the break looking for a fresh start and some good health. In their final game before the holidays, Andalusia squandered a late lead to come away with their first point of the season against an undermanned Jerusalem squad. They will be put to the test early facing league leaders Sham in their first game back. Andalusia has been cursed with injury issues since their inception. Supporters are calling on management to fire the entire training staff and hire new team doctors. After losing their first round pick to injury, there is still questions about Humeid Masood’s hamstring. The team is hopeful that a full month off will have him ready for the second half. Andalusia have scored only one goal in their last two matches which won’t cut it against the league’s top clubs. Taqi Ahmed, Sameer Masood and a healthy Humeid will need to carry the burden if AFC will rise back into playoff contention. We expect some shuffling of the positions with Shaharyar Khan maybe moving back to defense to have a ball carrier from the back. It isn’t do or die (yet) but they will need to come away with at least a point to carry momentum into some more important matchups in the coming weeks.

Sham FC
Sham remain the only undefeated team in BISL after a convincing win over Samarra in week 4. Sham have a few underwhelming performances but played their best match in the final week before the break. They definitely have the firepower to score plenty of goals with the addition of Ali Chaudhry and their defence has allowed the least shots against their rookie goalkeeper Omer Chaudhry. Their biggest question mark was their goalkeeping and some would argue he hasn’t been tested yet but good on their defence for keeping the firing range off target. Defender Asif ibn Rehana declared himself only available for half the games this season, since he has played all 4 so far, opposing GMs are wondering if he will be MIA the rest of the way. Ahmad Alvi, another player with perpetual attendance issues has been in uniform for all games thus far. We wondering if GM Muhammad Shah has imposed a fine for missed games. If that’s the case, Adeel Dosani might have just doubled his league fees. Sham face Andalusia in the first game after the break, they defeated the Spaniards 4-1 in the first game of the season and will be hoping to keep their streak alive. 

Jerusalem FC vs. Hejaz FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Jerusalem FC
JFC have shown grit and determination all season after some key absences to keep themselves in the middle of the table. In week 4, they found a late goal to steal a point and keep themselves in fourth place. However, JFC fans won’t accept anything less than a premier finish so they can’t be satisfied with their standing. Their biggest question mark coming into the season was the striker position but those worries seem to be behind them as Jibran Waqar seems to improve week over week. Jerusalem won’t be the highest scoring side this year and will need to continue to keep opponents off the scoreboard for results. Rookie keeper Basil Jeelany has been steady between the pipes after a rough start to his season. GM Saqib Dadabhoy has been managing adversity with the club early on and will be hoping the team has turned the corner. JFC face Hejaz in week 5 after they came away with a draw against their rival last time out. Jerusalem cannot afford to come away empty in their crucial affair with Hejaz and Andalusia chasing them in the standings. With sturdy defenders Shaheen Limbada and Atif Mian back in the squad, they will be hoping they can go full throttle this week.  

Hejaz FC
Hejaz find themselves in a familiar spot to last year, outside of a playoff spot but with plenty of matches to turn around their season. They squandered a golden opportunity against Anatolia in week 4 who were without Zain Khilji while Nehad Shihab barely played more than one half. They rung the bar are few times but failed to capitalize on some routine chances that would have turned the match in their favour. New addition Mohammad Chabayta showed flashes of brilliance but looked timid in his debut as we found him sitting on the bench in the final moments of the match. He will be asked to press forward and take control of the striker position if this team is going to score more goals. Omar El-Askalany has been brilliant with the ball and been the catalyst for their offence but needs someone to provide a clinical finish to his runs. GM Ibrahim Sardar was seen motivating his troops on the sidelines after their last match. Hejaz face off against their rivals Jerusalem this week. Jerusalem sits five points clear of Hejaz but that lead could be cut in half this week if Hejaz come out on top. With their following match against Andalusia, Hejaz must be looking to make a move in the next two weeks. 

Anatolia FC vs. Samarra FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Anatolia FC 
The Turks showed grit and determination in week 4 to scrape out a 2-1 victory over Hejaz. With a new formation, the lineup sheet had Riaz Murad playing in goal with Umair Sheikh moving up to forward in place of absent GM Zain Khilji. Something clearly worked in the tweaks, as the Canaries looked in control all match. Sheikh made an impact in his new role scoring a goal and helping set up the winner. The victory injected new life into the squad who rallied without their captain to earn three big points. With Captain Khilji back from tying the knot, it will be interesting to see if how the squad responds. First round pick Nasir Rehman hasn’t disappointed so far and has been the best defender in the league. Last match Nasir played all game and was still outpacing his teammates at the end of the match. We are still waiting on word on whether Riaz Murad will be standing between the pipes or if Umair Sheikh will be cleared to go back in goal. This week, Anatolia take on Samarra and will be looking for redemption after a thrashing last time out. The team expects to have a full squad this week with a chance to move up the standings.  

Samarra FC
Samarra ran into a roadblock right before the break with a 4-1 loss to Sham but the squad still remains in high spirits after dominating all their other matches. Samarra has scored the most goals thus far season and even outshot their opponent in their only loss. The Men in Black will be looking to correct their errors and come out flying again in the second half. The squad will finally welcome back their GM Umer Jabbar who has been vacationing in Europe and management is hoping he has maintained match fitness. Umer should help solidify their defence allowing Ali Wadee and Zeem Khan to play in the middle of the pitch. The squad is waiting for a fitness test to clear goalkeeper Hamza Waheed after he suffer a head injury in their last match. Khizer Shahzad leads the league in shot attempts and has been the catalyst to their offense. However, the manager expects him to move his shooting percentage above 25%. In their first match back, they face Anatolia FC. In the opening match of the season, Samarra put 7 goals past Anatolia for a convincing win,  but Anatolia are beginning to find form so expecting a similar result would be foolish.  

We get back on the pitch this coming Sunday, and we await the results of where each team stands at the official midpoint of the schedule. 

Week 4 Rumours

Matchweek Four marks the final set of games of 2017, and features a top of the table matchup between Sham and Samarra. However, each team will be looking to collect vital points heading into the break – let’s see what’s cracking in the rumours this week. 

One transactions to announce from week 4: 

Fawad Akram, Assistant GM of Hejaz FC withdraws due to a hand injury. Hejaz FC pick Muhammad Chabayta as a replacement player. 

Jerusalem FC vs. Andalusia FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Jerusalem FC
Finally, the sky blues got a performance they can be pleased with. After seemingly looking out of sorts the last few weeks, JFC put together a complete showing in a dominating victory over Anatolia. On draft day, many questioned the mid-round pick of the inexperienced Jibran Waqar. Waqar is well known to guys on the softball diamond, but risking a high draft pick on a guy who has never played soccer before? Caught many by surprise, but Jerusalem were confident in the move, most notably Shaheen Limbada, who felt that Jibran’s inherent athleticism and aggressiveness would lead to the rookie making an impact in some sort of capacity. And what an impact he’s made – two goals and two assists on the season, with both goals coming in last week’s win over the Canaries. Waqar has adapted to the league perfectly, and uses his predatory instincts and speed to make runs behind the defence. With quality playmakers like Limbada, Atif Mian and Numair Bari ready to make that killer pass when the opportunity presents itself, they are salivating at how much better Waqar will get as he gets more experience on the field. Rumour are swirling that we might see 2017 MVP Omar Sheikh joining JFC as a substitute this week while he is back in town during the holidays. Jerusalem sit in third place and look to keep the momentum going against the other blue side in the league in Andalusia this weekend.

Andalusia FC
Andalusia remain the only team pointless in the league thus far, and look to finally have something positive to build upon heading into 2018. New recruit Sameer Masood was not able to make an impact in his first match back in BISL like he has in year’s past, despite leading the team in shots, but we are certain that will change this week. Masood combines effortlessly with his brother Humeid, and enjoys the role of playmaker more than being a striker. That Masood brothers will have to be at their best to beat the stingy defence of Jerusalem though. On paper, this Andalusia squad features quality in all facets of the game, yet on the field it just has not come together as they would like to. With names like Taqi Ahmed, Shaharyar Khan, and Furhan Azmat, not to mention the Masood brothers, you would expect a team that can cut you open with incisive passing and a fair share of goals. However, chances are hard to come by for this team, with Sameer Masood leading the team in shots on the season (with four) having played only one match. To be fair, the schedule has not been generous to them either, facing the three top scoring teams in the league in their first three matches. They face yet another high scoring squad in Jerusalem this week, and GM Junaid Mirza will once again be subject to a bevy of shots on target.

Hejaz FC vs. Anatolia FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Hejaz FC
Hejaz had some unfortunate news last week with Fawad Akram withdrawing from the league due to a broken finger. GM Ibrahim Sardar had another scare in the buildup to last Sunday, with young star Omar El-Askalany facing a late fitness test before gametime. Omar proved to be fine, scoring a brace and running amok against Sham last week, and even without Akram, los Blancos looked great. They challenged Sham all match, and many believe that they would have comfortably won if Fawad Akram was dressed. Despite not collecting any of the three points up for grabs, it was a spirited display they can build upon heading into the break. With Akram out for the season, the club calls up rookie Muhammad Chabayta from their youth squad – we know very little about the 20 year old beyond the fact that at 6’2 200lbs, the guy is a beast. Sardar has a knack for picking up talent from obscurity, with previous ‘unknowns’ like the Masood brothers, the Akram brothers, and this year’s diamond in the rough El-Askalany, so we can only assume that Chabayta is a baller. With his size, we expect him to play a more physical and direct game than the man he replaces, and we all anxiously await his debut in white and orange on Sunday against the shorthanded Anatolia.

Anatolia FC
The Yellow Submarine headed into their rivalry with Jerusalem a bit banged up. Goalkeeper Umair Sheikh was sporting a bandaged finger – never a good sign when you’re a goalkeeper – and seemed to make the injury worse during the match. There were rumours swirling that he would drop out for the year, but with the midseason break coming up, maybe he holds off to see how it heals heading over the next few weeks. To make matters worse, reigning golden boot holder Zain Khilji suffered a hip injury pregame and was forced to sit out the match. Khilji will be out of action this week, but not because he is nursing yet another injury. Rather, the man is travelling thousands of kilometres across the world to get hitched. Yup, Zain Khilji will be a married man in just over a week Insha’Allah. I know, what you’re thinking – isn’t he like fourteen? Yes, yes he is. And now this fourteen year old will be a ‘garment’ for his wife (Editor’s note: Zain is not actually fourteen) – life comes at you fast. We wish Zain and his bride-to-be all the best as they embark on this journey together. Back to more important things like BISL though. The Canaries look to be heavily shorthanded in this matchup, but will fight tooth and nail for a result of any sort to keep them in the playoff picture against Hejaz FC.

Sham FC vs. Samarra FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Sham FC
Sham once again came through in victory last week, but were not pleased with their performance. After the match, the team essentially had an impromptu team meeting discussing what can they do better as a unit – not something you would expect from a team second in the table. However, Muhammad Shah & Co. recognize the talent and depth they have in this side, and want to make sure they iron out any bad tendencies before a big matchup this Sunday. Any team that features Shah, Ahmed Alvi, and Hassan and Ali Chaudhry should have title aspirations from day one, and though the table shows they’ve been quality, the team still feels like they haven’t hit their stride yet. Against an underrated Hejaz side, the Orangemen needed two late goals – including a clinical finish by Ahmed Alvi to put the side ahead with less than two minutes to play – to get the full three points. They cannot afford to leave it until so late this week against the well-oiled machine of Samarra FC. The entire squad will have to be sharp and focused on playing a complete game. This group knows they have what it takes to pull off the upset, but it requires a determined effort from one through ten. It’s rare a team with sort of quality heads into a matchup as an underdog, but they will have to show their true mettle in the ‘six-pointer’ against Samarra this week.

Samarra FC 
Just when you thought these guys couldn’t get any better, they show up and put up a clean sheet to go with five goals. Though a lot can be said about stars Danish Khan and Khizer Shahzad, newcomers Syed Murtaza Tirmizi and Hussam Ayubi have been unbelievable in their rookie campaigns. Tirmizi leads the league in goals, and is just the sort of ruthless finisher any playmaker would love to play alongside. On the other side of the pitch, Ayubi has been remarkable in defense, and has anchored the side while playing it out from the back as well. Also, lost in the shuffle has been the solid play of Hamza Waheed. After Commissioner Zahid Merchant was forced to withdraw from the league due to injury, GM Umer Jabbar turned to Waheed out of desperation, hoping the team’s loaded offense would carry the inexperienced ‘keeper to high scoring victories. Hamza has shown that he has the tools needed to be a quality goalie in this league, and deserves as much credit as the next guy for the Samarrans sitting at the top of the table. The league leaders face their toughest challenge yet in second-place Sham FC this week – let’s see if they collect another three points to a perfect record heading into the break.

There you have it – despite it only being week four of the season, there is a lot to play for. Let’s see who closes out 2017 with a bang (or a whimper).

Week 3 Rumours

Week two saw further separation between the contenders and pretenders, and though it’s early, it looks like certain teams look a cut above the rest, while others seem like they have their work cut out for them. The season is still in its infant stages, but we have some excitement already budding around the league table – let’s see what’s going down heading into Matchweek 3. 

The injury bug continues to plague the league. This week we have three more transactions to announce. We wish all those withdrawing a speedy recovery and hope to see you on the pitch next season.

Three transactions to announce from week 3: 

Junaid Akram
, Assistant GM of Sham FC withdraws due to an ankle injury. Sham FC chose Ali Chaudhry as a replacement player. 
Altamash Khan, 1st round pick of Andalusia FC withdraws due to a knee injury. Andalusia FC chose Sameer Masood as a replacement player.
Fawad Akram, Assistant GM of Hejaz FC withdraws due to a hand injury. Hejaz FC are still recruiting a replacement player. 

Andalusia FC vs, Samarra FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Andalusia FC
Andalusia FC had a rough last week with their first rounder, Altamash Khan officially dropping out and later losing Humeid Masood to a hamstring injury. To make matters worse, the club fell deeper into the hole as the only team to lose both their opening games. Looking back at it now, the forecast isn’t all grey clouds and rain in Andalusia. Their result last week deserves praise as they stayed composed enough to get back into the game from a 4-0 deficit and that too without their 2 best players. GM and goal keeper Junaid Mirza is leading by example with a devoted performance in goal just behind Taqi Ahmed who has been the heartbeat of the team. Andalusia fans are not worried at all especially now that Sameer Masood put pen to paper… YES, THIS JUST HAPPENED!!! Andalusia were able to replace Altamash with a top-quality player that has experience in the great BISL and a championship to go with it. The club couldn’t have gotten a better player reuniting Humeid with his brother and rejuvenating him as we expect him to feature in this week’s match. Shaharyar Khan is holding it down on the back end and will have a great task on hand as they take on the overflowing Samarra. If Andalusia can continue to get goals from Fahim Karamat and Muzammil Murad, they will be more balanced with their new addition. The defense will hope the offense could bring back more goals then they give up as the league basement could get darker and colder in the long winter. Will the new signing pay immediate dividends against the league leaders?

Samarra FC
Samarra FC are shaping up to be a well-rounded and balanced team that look composed at the back and dangerous going forward. We were not able to pick out a definite flaw in their performance from last week but we did notice the pristine fitness levels their players are embodying and we think it may have been enforced by the absent GM Umer Jabbar. First rounder, Syed Murtaza Tirmizi has certainly lived up to the hype he brought after the pick-up game with 4 goals in 2 matches and we expect a consistent contribution of goals from him this season. We know that Khizer Shahzad and Danish Khan are playing some great footy but the guy hoisting the sails of the Samarian ship is Ali Wadee who deserves a lot of praise for his work rate and contribution on both ends of the pitch. He already looks like he’s in mid-season form as he scored a screamer from distance. Behind Ali is the unlikely pairing of Umair Ashraf and Hussam Ayubi and contrary to popular belief, could turn out to be one of the best defenses in the league. Hamza Waheed took on a great role for the team in goal when the club had no where to turn and it seems like he can become a goalie that any team would prefer. However, he has a slight tendency to lose character and leave his goal to become a defender that can use his hands. That’s not a problem at all as Samarra are cruising and will look to extend their reach in the standing against a last seed Andalusia. We expect another 4+ goal performance.

Sham FC vs. Hejaz FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Sham FC
Sham FC have made quite the impression just as we predicted and there’s no doubt in the team or in the stands that this team is going for glory. With Muhammed Shah in charge of the club and the midfield, all that former volatility has settled. Although they are undefeated in their opening 2 games, the headline doesn’t tell the whole story. Erdinc Simsek came into the squad as a replacement for an injured mid-low draft pick and has aided Shah to carry the offensive responsibilities for the club especially with Junaid Akram down with an ankle problem. Consequently, Junaid was forced to withdraw from league and Sham has picked up another Chaudhry with Ali Chaudhry joining the squad midweek. Taking all that into account, Sham did not let this affect their game and it all started with stellar routines from the defensive partnership of Hassan Chaudhry and Ahmed Alvi. They did receive some help from Hassan’s brother, Ali who scored 2 of their 6 goals as a substitute, which now will only add to their offense fulltime. Shah will be playing against his old club where he held the cup for 2 consecutive years and Hejaz fans will be anxious to see if Shah celebrates after scoring a goal which he very oftenly does. We expect Sham to remain undefeated against a currently scrambling Hejaz.  

Hejaz FC
Hejaz FC is another team that have had their woes affect the standings and are looking to bounce back via the transfer market. Fawad Akram officially drops out with a broken hand and we are sure Hejazi scouts are occupied across the globe to find a replacement for an irreplaceable player. To make matters worse, Omar El-Askalany picked up a nagging ankle injury and could be unavailable this week which could really affect their season’s outcome especially if they don’t sign a player and get him through a medical in time. The physio commented in a short press interview mid-week that Omar’s injury is more a week-week than a day-day sort of thing. In the meantime, A K and Usman Aslam have been putting in some noteworthy shifts leading by example as the team morale is still high in the squad. The Hejaz pre-game custom still lives on as the EK, DO, TEEN chant can be heard from the stands. GM Ibrahim Sardar will have his hands full as a manager and a goalie this week as he tries to handcraft a victory out of a scattered but very talented squad. We would like to see a playmaker slot right into the midfield to inject some chances in front of goal for the forwards. If the backline can fend off opponent raids, the white knights have enough talent to find the netting with or without Fawad. Can Hejaz recover in time to stay in the race for a top seed come playoffs?

Jerusalem FC vs. Anatolia FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Jersusalem FC
Jerusalem FC sits steady with 2 draws and 2 points in 2 games and it seems the champions want to build their season from the defense up. With only a 2.5 goals per game average, it’s a little unexpecting from an offensive standpoint given the nature of their squad and we wonder what GM Saqib Dadabhoy has in mind. So far, we’ve seen the trio-core of Saqib, Shaheen Limbada, and Atif Mian everywhere except the final third and one would think a simple shift in position would increase their tally of goals. One player up front that is looking lively is Hassan Chaudhary and he will be instrumental in any strategy they choose to play. Regardless of position, the contributions are being shared pretty evenly with 7 out of the 9 outfield players picking up a point. Maybe that’s what Saqib wants; to develop their talent and become as well-rounded as possible for the playoffs. Jibran Waqar is still working the ropes but is an important piece to the deep blue midfield with his versatility in speed and strength as he already has a point to his name. We expect Jerusalem to shut the door again in front of the explosive style of the Anatolians but will need some more offensive output if they are to increase their chances of securing their first victory. 

Anatolia FC 
Anatolia FC seemed like a whole different team last week as they dominated in a 5-3 victory with a score line that doesn’t quite tell the entire tale. We are starting to see some incomparable offensive brilliance from the Anatolian forwards as their build-up quality undid the Andalusians several times over. The squad will surely work on their final ball and finishing in training as they should have converted more of the chances that were created. The club must still be happy with 9 goals in 2 games as their marvels Zain Khilji and Nehad Shihab continue to combine to lead the league in points and assists. Nasir Rehman has fit in perfectly as the guy who puts it all together collecting 4 points of his own. With Mohammad Mahmood back in the squad, the canaries were able to take more control of the midfield and connect the forwards with the defense. Management’s biggest concern has always been their defense and last week they showed they can protect their goal by keeping the opposition in front of them. Riaz Murad filled in for starting keeper Umair Sheikh and made some impressive saves that will surely give Umair some competition for his spot back. They still let through 3 scrappy second half goals as they seem to lack the instinct to deal with scrambles and loose balls. Anatolia’s top defender, Taher Mirza is a hidden striker crouching dragon with his ability to get into scoring positions in a flash and we wonder how many offensive options this team have and wanted. They say the best defense is offensive but let’s see how true that is against the ever-sturdy Jerusalem FC.

Matchweek 3 is here.

Week 2 Rumours

Matchweek One is in the books, and we already have some juicy storylines heading into MW2. Who look like contenders and who look like pretenders? Who has the makings of a champion and who is already looking ahead to a new draft strategy for next year? Let’s kick off with this week’s rumours.

Jerusalem FC vs. Sham FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Jerusalem FC
Gone are superstar Omar Sheikh and captain Zahid Merchant, but Jerusalem kept part of their identity intact with a GM core of Shaheen Limbada and Saqib Dadabhoy complemented by last year's steal of the draft Atif Mian. The sky blues still have some kinks to work out as they seemed to lack chemistry, but that can be said about every team in week one. Their talent alone makes them a favourite week in, week out, and this week proves to be no different against upstart Sham FC. Shaheen Limbada’s intensity is tangible, and the team feeds off his competitive spirit. Surely Limbada & Co. weren’t thrilled with only a point last week in their first match as defending champs, and look poised to make a statement in Matchweek Two. Jerusalem had (in this committee of one’s opinion) the best draft, putting together a side that is balanced and versatile. Rookie Basil Jeelany looks like a veteran between the sticks, having played ‘keeper at five different levels growing up. Add in midfield maestro and self-proclaimed “fastest player in the league” Numair Bari, and you have a team that can beat you in many ways, and may even compare, on paper, to the team that won it all last year. There is still a lot of football to be played, and JFC look ready to reclaim their throne and remind the league that they are the team to beat in Matchweek Two.

Sham FC
It's only been a week, but one thing is for sure - this is not the Sham you've grown accustom to in years past. With a new identity built around one of the best to ever lace them up in BISL in Muhammad Shah, a new face took all the spotlight in week one. Affectionately known as 'the Turk' by his team, Erdinc Simsek joined as a replacement for the injured Syed G Hussain mere days before match week one. Simsek was a huge gamble for the orange to take, but GMs Shah and Junaid Akram figured they'd Roll the dice and see what the Miltonian had to offer. We found out almost immediately, as his deft touches, clever runs, and knowledge of the game silenced even the biggest skeptics. And that was before ~the goal~. Simsek gathered the ball, saw his opposing keeper out of position and laced a blinder off the post and into the net. Not bad for a guy that was a shot in the dark, eh? Factor in that the goal was scored FROM HALF, and you think as to how this guy was available in the first place. Has Muhammad Shah uncovered another diamond in the rough? It seems like every year he manages to pick up a difference maker that pays immediate dividends. We'll see if Erdinc continues to build on his reputation in a big matchup against reigning champ Jerusalem FC this week.  

Samarra FC vs. Hejaz FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Samarra FC
YO WHO ARE THESE SAMARRA CATS? A team known for their defensive approach to the game showed up looking for blood this past Sunday, scoring a whopping SEVEN goals on twenty-five shots, both setting club records. To put this in context, Samarra scored ten goals all season a few years back. Chiseled-and-grizzled GM Umer Jabbar must be smiling ear-to-ear after hearing about the result, which only adds to the happiness he’s feeling from his upcoming nuptials (congratulations, bro!). The team put on a clinic, led by young gun Khizer Shahzad’s hat trick, and newcomer Syed Murtaza Tirmizi’s brace. With Jabbar missing the rest of the calendar year, and veteran All-Star Zahid Merchant withdrawing from the league due to injury, the question remains as to which one of these upright young men will take the leadership role on the team and keep the team focused? Typically, we would rely on “the holy grail of thel” Umair Jabbar, but he isn’t taking part in the League this year either (and also recently got engaged – these Jabbars maaaan, such hopeless romantics).  Maybe it won’t be one guy but rather a collective presence where each man holds the other accountable to bring the best out of the squad. We all know these guys have the talent to win the championship, and we definitely see them being a headache for opposing defences for weeks to come.

Hejaz FC
There were a lot of question marks surrounding Hejaz heading into Season 4. Many wondered how much the identity of the team would change with Muhammad Shah out of the mix, but if GM Ibrahim Sardar could choose anyone in the league to replace the focal point of his offense, it would have been his AGM Fawad Akram. Akram possesses the same razzmatazz so typically seen in the Hejaz number ten role, and has a great eye for goal to boot. He suffered a serious hand injury in the opening week, but the pain did not seem to affect him; with a homemade tape job, he was able to withstand the injury and contributed to all three goals in the 3-3 draw with Jerusalem. However, Fawad felt like the injury was more serious than he first hoped for, and his prognosis was correct; Akram now sports a cast to repair a broken finger, but remains confident that he will be able to suit up this weekend. Los Blancos sport a lot of new faces, but as always, the man known as AK continues to put in quality shifts in midfield after working out his kinks pregame with a fuchsia spiked-apparatus of sorts. The Hejazis, like their rivals Jerusalem, still have some chemistry issues to sort out, but we count on them being a force throughout the season in hopes of regaining their title they lost last year. 

Anatolia FC vs. Andalusia FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Anatolia FC
Anatolia held the top pick of the draft, in what has become a routine occurrence year after year, and shocked the league with selecting newcomer Nasir Rehman with the first pick. Rehman came into the league with a lot of hype, and though the move surprised the league at large, the GMs were not in the slightest after seeing the chemistry Rehman struck up with GM Zain Khilji during the pickup game. Rehman did not disappoint in his debut, netting two goals and showing a strong presence in canary yellow. Also, we still cannot believe Nehad Shihab only took one shot. A man who literally shoots when given even a sliver of an opening only took one. Perhaps Shihab did not find it necessary to put his laces through the ball as often because the team looked dangerous in the final third. Typically, a team scoring four goals would be pretty satisfied with their performance, but not so much when they give up seven. Anatolia continue to be out of sorts at the back, leaving stalwart goalkeeper Umair Sheikh subject to way too many shots. Though the shot stopper is more than capable of keeping his team in the match with his abilities, I am sure he would appreciate someone, ANYONE, to close down opposing forwards and not offer so many clear-cut chances. Let’s see if they can provide more balance next week and come away with three points.

Andalusia FC 
Andalusia, after having their most successful campaign last year, saw their two best players from last year miss out on the season as a whole this year, and brought in former Golden Boot winner Humeid Masood to lead the line. Humeid was generally kept in check against Sham, but showed glimpses of his work rate and individual ability when called upon. Masood did suffer a hamstring injury last that worried GM Junaid Mirza, but he is said to be healing well and looks ready for this weekend’s matchup. Andalusia’s performance left a lot to be desired, but Mirza chalks it up to it being first week jitters rather than a true indication of the team’s character. We side with Junaid’s assessment, and know a team featuring the likes of Furhan Azmat, Shaharyar Khan and Taqi Ahmed will see their fair share of wins this season. Andalusia also went with a fresh face in their first round, selecting defender Altamash Khan with the fourth overall pick. Khan’s imposing presence at 6’2 190lbs showcases his size and strength as the rock of the blues defence. Adding his brawn to the beauty of Sheraz Choudhry on the ball, and you’d think these guys are the second coming of Vidic and Rio. The Blues look to avenge their poor showing in week one, and fancy their chances against Anatolia in a few day’s time.

Week two is upon us – let’s see who’s got it figured out and who still remains out of sorts. 

Week 1 Rumours

As we approach the beginning of Season 4, there is plenty of excitement and lots of questions to be answered about each team. With over 15 new players spread out across all 6 teams in the league, there will be plenty of faces trying to make an impression. Each week throughout the season, we will be posting news and rumours from around the league so be sure to check back here regularly to find out what's up in BISL. 

Two transactions to announce from the first week: 
Zahid Merchant
, 3th round pick of Samarra FC withdraws due to hand injury. Samarra FC chose Hussam Ayubi as a replacement player.
Syed G Hussain, 6th round pick of Sham FC withdraws due to a knee injury. Sham FC chose Erdinc Simsek as a replacement player. 


Jerusalem FC vs. Hejaz FC (8:45PM on Field 3)

Jerusalem FC
Jerusalem FC return as the defending champions after finally beating their rivals Hejaz in a 3rd time’s the charm type finals. After their great success, remarkably the first thing the club did was put the pen to a new general manager. Saqib Dadabhoy is the new GM, but is well-known to Jerusalem fans across the land as he pledged his loyalty for a 4th season as a player and now as a manager. Saqib brought with him Jerusalem’s present legend, Shaheen Limbada and his trusty left foot to escort him to another shot at glory. Without Omar Sheikh and previous GM Zahid Merchant this season, we thought the squad rating would suffer, but management did well to sign the right players in key positions. The first name on the paper was star defender Atif Mian, who was influential in their previous championship run and we can be sure to see him on defensive duties again. Joining him on the game sheet are the recognized Hassan Chaudhary and Numair Bari who add a sense of solidity and grit to the midfield. The talking point of every squad are always the players making debuts and goalkeeper Basil Jeelany is a prime example. All we know is Basil can play but will he be able to keep up with the fierce and highly competitive nature of the best league in the world, BISL. Jibran Waqar is another one of those guys and although he can’t hit any homeruns and throw touchdowns on the soccer pitch, his athleticism can serve as a huge asset to management’s disposal. Raza Ali fits into the midfield and Arshad Chaudhry into the defense along with utility man Hassan Zubair who will play multiple positions. Can this new Jerusalem hold on to their throne?

Hejaz FC
Hejaz FC had huge decisions to make as the new season brought forth new rules. The league was interested to see what would become of Muhammed Shah and the Akram brothers as this year GM Ibrahim Sardar could only keep one. He chose to keep Fawad Akram. Hejaz have created a winning reputation and pedigree since their inception and Shah was closely linked to what they have achieved. There is a slight uncertainty in the air but Fawad is more than capable to take any team to glory. The Hejaz faithful A K returns to the club to solidify a core in the club. Management has brought in a lot of new talent in Omar El-Askalany, Ahmar Maqsood, Waleed Alvi, and Owais Khan but it remains the be seen how good they can be under the lights at BISL. Regardless of how good they are, it will take some time for the team to build chemistry and gel under a rebuilt squad. First rounder Omar El-Askalany has done enough to prove he will be a top forward in the league this year especially playing alongside Fawad Akram. It remains to be seen who the key defensive pairing will be in front of goalkeeper Sardar. The white knights picked up secret weapon Usman Aslam who is known for his finishing and unethical habits of bribing players with kababs. Last but not least, Mohsin Zubair will play the all-important utility player to support the offense and help keep the ball out of their half. Hejaz FC have participated in every final to date and have a high chance of doing it again this season. 

Anatolia FC vs. Samarra FC (8:45PM on Field 4)

Anatolia FC
A club known for its yellowness and preference of offense at the expense of defense. It seems like they are stuck in manager mode as they bring back 7 out of 10 players from last season. It’s safe to assume GM Zain Khilji has opted to preserve the same tactics as last year with a slight adjustment in personnel. The huge acquisition of Nasir Rehman is the pivotal point between this year’s squad and all before it. Anatolia shocked those at the draft with their first overall pick for Nasir as management must have envisioned a vital role for him to take on after seeing him play at the new players’ pick-up game. Mohammed Mahmood is the other notable addition and will most likely play an important part in the heart of the Anatolian midfield. Some say he was born to play here as he complements star forwards Nehad Shihab and Zain with a similar playing style, height, and shot from distance. Nirvaan Latif was the last replacement bringing his strength and leadership to the side and believe us when we say Zain caused quite the commotion at the draft to sign the veteran rookie. Is Nirvaan the next golden boot winner in disguise? Back on defense will be Taher Mirza and Salman Ahmed who had notable performances in front of goalkeeper Umair Sheikh who surprised the league with record breaking numbers. Rounding off the squad are Hasan Afzal and Riaz Murad who secretly provide so much value to the core of the team. Are they contenders? They are every year, but always fall short in the end. This year could be different.  

Samarra FC
Samarra FC missed the playoffs last year by goals differential, but have come back hungrier and stronger to make sure it doesn’t happen again. GM Umer Jabbar brings back the same great chemistry he created last season, but it seems he’s bettered the formula. The heart and soul of Samarra is back as the duo of Khizer Shahzad and Danish Khan is about to get better as both player ratings have gone up after the pre-season. Samarra’s next trick was Syed Murtaza Tirmizi who is a natural striker with a knack of finishing as he demonstrated a great performance at the new players' pick up session. These three players will be the focal source of offense supported by the workhorse engine of Zeem Khan. Although their offense looks very promising, there are a few concerns in the back half, especially in goal. Goalkeeper Zahid Merchant will miss the season with a hand injury as he underwent surgery to repair a tendon which leaves Samarra vulnerable between the pipes. Hamza Waheed was spotted in goal by one of our spies during a practice and it makes us wonder who Umer will pick up in replacement of Zahid. The defense also has its troubles as Umer who has been working hard in the off season will be missing some games for out-of-country personal time. Maaz Mohiuddin will be the man in charge at the back alongside Ali Wadee and Umair Ashraf until Umer returns to shake up positions. We speculate the team to be in good shape as they take on an Anatolian team who play similar to their style in a match where we will see a flurry of goals.

Sham FC vs. Andalusia FC (9:45PM on Field 3)

Sham FC 
Sham FC have made drastic changes to club after a couple disappointing seasons as the owners shifted their ambitions from remaining in the great BISL to winning it. Who better to sign as manager than the league great Muhammed Shah. He took his team to every final, won two championships, won the golden boot, and ultimately won the hearts of soccer fans across the globe. The only thing left for him to do is bring a team from the brinks of relegation…to glory. His first transaction was to bring his former teammate Junaid Akram to his club to replicate the records they set back at Hejaz. Then he proceeded to piece together a contender of a team by taking dribblers Kamil Lotia and Ahmed Alvi to play the wings. After just 3 rounds in, we saw a massive bandwagon rise to create a global phenomenon and all of a sudden Sham FC are looking the sign the biggest tv deal the league has ever seen. With their first overall pick, management strategically drafted Hassan Chaudhry to obtain the loyalty of his brother Omer Chaudhry who will make his debut in goal this weekend. We have yet to see if Omer has what it takes to be on this Sham team and same goes for Adeel Dosani. We don’t even know where Adeel will play but he will be looking to bring back his Grammar School days. There are a couple unknowns in the squads, but if Sham can iron out all sides of the cloth, they will be tough to beat. To lay the foundation, Asif ibn Rehana and Hashim Ghazi, who are no strangers to Shah streaked Hejaz, will partner up with Hassan to create the wall in front of goal. Syed G Hussain is dropped due to a knee injury and is replaced by another unknown, Erdinc Simsek. We were all here to witness the rise of Sham FC.  

Andalusia FC
Andalusia FC made huge strides to close the gap between them and the top teams last year and this season they look even better. GM Junaid Mirza has prospered in formulating powerful allegiances which has given rise to his club and following. The Spaniards, to the surprise of their opponents, brought back former golden boot winner Humeid Masood along with his companion Altamash Khan. As dangerous of a name as Altamash sounds, he even more dangerous on the pitch in full stride. Unfortunately, Hejaz stole the third musketeer Omar El-Askalany, and Junaid is still in negotiations to obtain rights to play alongside him. League officials are investigating if these negotiations include goal letting especially since the GM is also the starting goalkeeper. Junaid did manage to sign the quality of Taqi Ahmed and Shahrayar Khan to assemble a dense core in the squad and challenge the league at its heights. There are still question marks on what role each player in the squad will play, but we know for sure Sheraz Chaudhry will be the anchor on the ship and joining him on defense will probably be the agile Omar Shakil. Muzammil Murad comes into the league with nothing on him except for the fact that he is Riaz’s brother and management will be hoping he brings the same kind of energy his sibling brings. Depth is so important in any squad and Andalusia have that covered with Fahim Karamat and Furhan Azmat, both of whom are great attacking options and bring speed to the team. With so many newly acquired players, it will take some time for management to get the best out of its squad, but when they do, they will make some noise.  

Season starts in only a few days. Let's Kick-off!

2017-18 BISL Draft Results

The 2017-18 BISL draft was held Tuesday evening at the Commissioner's residence. There were some surprise picks and some late round steals throughout the draft. With two new GMs this season (Jerusalem and Sham), a lot of allegiances were broken up. Here are the teams for this season with player names in alphabetical order. 

2016-17 Season Recap, All BISL-Teams & Player Awards

After a season that featured plenty of new faces, a new playoff team, and finally a new champion (albeit in a final that had the same two teams for the third time running), it's safe to say that it was the best one to date. The parity amongst the League was beyond apparent, with four squads holding top position at different times throughout the season. However, this season featured a lot more than just parity. We saw league records smashed as well, notably:
  • most goals by the league in a season (172 compared to 156 last year);
  • most goals by a player in a season (Zain Khilji with 17);
  • most saves by a player in a season (Umair Sheikh with 80):
  • most saves by a player in a match (Umair Sheikh with 18);
  • most points by a player in a match (Omar Sheikh with 7);
  • most shots by a player in a match (Fawad Akram with 12):
  • most goals by ‎a team in a match (Jerusalem with 13); and,
  • most shots by a team in a match (Hejaz with 42)‎.
The season featured many incredible individual performances, which made player award voting even more difficult than usual. For individual awards, each GM was to submit one nominee from their respective team. After collecting all the nominees, each team's set of GMs (GM and two Assistant GMs) were eligible to cast a vote - however, they were NOT permitted to vote for players on their own team. Though there were many deserving candidates, we are happy to present this year's individual award winners.

Before we go into the individual awards, let's recap this year's All-BISL teams, voted on by the players. 

All-BISL First Team
All-BISL Second Team
G: Zahid Merchant, Jerusalem FC      
G: Umair Sheikh, Anatolia FC
D: Zain Khan, Andalusia FC
D: Mohammad Variava, Jerusalem FC
D: Atif Mian, Jerusalem FC
D: Hassan Chaudhry, Andalusia FC
F: Zain Khilji, Anatolia FC
F: Fawad Akram, Hejaz FC
F: Omar Sheikh, Jerusalem FC
F: Junaid Akram, Hejaz FC
F: Muhammad Shah, Hejaz FC
F: Khizer Shahzad, Samarra FC

And now, onto the awards...

Golden Boot

Zain Khilji, Anatolia FC (17 goals)

Khilji set a BISL record with 17 goals this season, and average of almost 2 per match he suited up for. He opened up the season with a 5 goal outburst, and showed no sign of slowing down. What's just as impressive is that he did it on 38 shots, showing a clinical display of ruthlessness in front of goal.

Regular Season MVP

Top Three Nominees:
Junaid Akram, Hejaz FC; Omar Sheikh, Jerusalem FC; Zain Khilji, Anatolia FC.
Winner: Omar Sheikh, Jerusalem FC (14 goals, 6 assists, 20 points)

Sheikh joined Jerusalem FC midseason last year and has set the league ablaze since his arrival. Sheikh is known for his work rate, aggression, and superb finishing. He was instrumental in JFC's title winning season, and showed all he is capable of in his 7-point outburst against Sham that set plenty of League records.

Playoff MVP

Top Three Nominees:
Mohammad Variava‎, Omar Sheikh, Raza Ali.
Winner: Omar Sheikh, Jerusalem FC (5 goals, 2 assists in 2 games played; 3 goals in Final)

Sheikh carried his scoring boots into the postseason with a display that brought home the first title in Jerusalem FC's short history. Having moved to Vancouver for work, he flew back in time for the second leg of the semi-final against Anatolia FC, where he chipped in two goals and two assists. His display in the Final was equally impressive with a hat-trick that brought home the gold. Sheikh ran eight (!!!) kilometres in the 70-minute Final, showing that he was all over the pitch and made his mark on both sides of the ball.

Top Defender

Top Three Nominees: Atif Mian, Jerusalem FC; Umair Jabbar, Samarra FC; Zain Khan, Andalusia FC.
Winner: Atif Mian, Jerusalem FC (3 assists, +7 GD)

Mian is a newcomer to the League and made his mark as an All-BISL first team pick, a top defender award and a championship. A midfielder by trade, Atif was asked to move back into a defensive role to balance out the side and provide some control at the back. Mian relished the opportunity, providing a sense of calm and quality buildup from the backline. He also chipped in with three assists.

Top Goalkeeper

Top Three Nominees: ‎Ibrahim Sardar, Hejaz FC; Umair Sheikh, Anatolia FC; Zahid Merchant, Jerusalem FC.
Winner: Zahid Merchant, Jerusalem FC (49 saves, 18 goals against, 73.1% save percentage, ‎2 clean sheets, 1 assist)

Ziggy went from last year's most improved player in his first season between the sticks to the league's top goalkeeper this year. A move made out of necessity after being unable to pick up a keeper in the draft, Merchant put the gloves on himself and developed into an elite shotstopper in the League. His most impressive performance came in a gritty 3-2 win over Andalusia, where he made 10 saves and contributed an assist as well.

Most Improved Player

Top Three Nominees: Fahim Karamat, Andalusia FC; Mohammad Mahmood, Sham FC; Omar Adil, Hejaz FC.
Winner: Fahim Karamat, Andalusia FC (5 goals, 1 assist)

Karamat went from a player who had zero points and two shots in season one to a five goal scorer and lead offensive contributor this year. Andalusia FC were known for their defensive foundation, but Karamat chipped in with crucial goals throughout the season that led them to their first playoff birth ever, notably with a brace in a 4-0 win over Hejaz during Matchweek 2.

Brotherhood Award

Nominees: ‎A K, Hejaz FC; Danish Khan, Samarra FC; Hassan Zubair, Anatolia FC; Imad Siraj, Andalusia FC; Raza Ali, Jerusalem FC; Usman Aslam, Sham FC.
Winner: Danish Khan, Samarra FC

Though every one of these nominees (and many others that weren't) are deserving of this award, it could not have gone to a better brother than Danish. Khan exemplified the type of personality and mentality this League thrives on showcasing. He played hard and set the tone for his squad, displayed competitiveness while maintaining respect for his opponent, and showed class on and off the pitch. He set an example that resonated with everyone in the League.

That brings a close to Season Three of BISL, our most competitive one yet. Congratulations to all award recipients, and thank you to all the players, supporters and sponsors that made this season a memorable one. See you on the pitch next year!

Congratulations to the 2016/17 Champions - Jerusalem FC

Third time's a charm, isn't it? After being on the losing end of the scoreline the past two finals, Jerusalem finally got the best of their nemesis Hejaz to be crowned as Champions. The Final score read 4-1 and it played out exactly as you'd expect a final to be - intense, gritty and focused. Both teams left it all on the field, but only one team can be crowned champs, and it was finally the Sky Blues turn to hoist the trophy. The game started off with a great individual effort by Raza Ali that put his side ahead 1-0. A second came only a few mins after by Omar Sheikh to put JFC up two and Hejaz looking for answers. They got an immediate return as Muhammad Shah, as he always does, took matters into his own hands right off the kickoff - dangling his way into a great finish that saw them pull back one in unison. Omar Sheikh made sure not to let the tide fall in favour of the Hejazis though, as he answered back quickly with another goal to put his men up 3-1 at the break. In the second half, Hejaz looked to get another goal early but the solid defensive partnership of Mohammed Variava and Atif Mian for Jerusalem could not be broken down. Credit to Shaheen Limbada for putting in a shift of his own as defensive mid, as the three of them (and Jerusalem as a whole) looked poised in preventing Hejaz from getting any more goals. Omar Sheikh finished his hat trick off with another great finish on the counter that put the game all but away. Hejaz kept chipping away but couldn't get any end product. As the game waned down, both teams showed signs of fatigue with the extended game length. As the final whistle blew, Jerusalem GM let out a roar as he finally claimed the championship that's alluded his side in year's past.