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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

Winner:
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.