After a week delay, the season finally kicks off this Sunday but at a new facility. We will be temporarily playing at Milton Soccer Academy (821 Main St E, Milton) for this week. We apologize for the changes in the start times. The league will provide drinks for all players for this Sunday. Here are the matchups this week:
Transaction: Adeel Dosani drops out due to injury; Jerusalem replace him with Furhan Azmat. Since Jerusalem had top waiver priority, Furhan clears waivers and joins the team.
Sham FC vs. Hejaz FC (8:45PM)
Hejaz and Sham kick off the 2018 season this Sunday after having faced each other in the exhibition game last week. Hejaz came away with a late victory but Sham was missing some key pieces. Hejaz has under gone a complete remodeling after 3 successful seasons. Los Blancos reached the finals in each of the first three seasons in the league but failed to reach the post season last year. High expectations from ownership forced a change at the helm, granting the job to Taqi Ahmed. Taqi is a top 5 player in career points but wasn't given the opportunity to lead any of the teams he played for; well, now he has his opportunity. The self-proclaimed master tactician will now get to put his theories to practice. With plenty of talent and experienced in his squad, Hejaz should be able to keep up with top clubs but a rocky start could put pressure on the rookie GM. Hejaz will have to test their cleats against last year's runner up, Sham. Led by Muhammad Shah, Sham has been active on the training grounds since their exhibition loss. The team has their core from last year and some former trophy winners to round out the squad. In an early revenge match, they will be looking to put their stamp as the team to beat this season.
Andalusia FC vs. Jerusalem FC (9:40PM)
Well, this is awkward. The Jerusalem side that set records and won a championship that eluded them after a pair of finals losses suits up in the 9:40PM matchup against…Jerusalem? Yes, you read that right – all seven guys from that championship side play in the 9:40PM matchup, yet only a pair of them will be rocking that shade of baby blue. GM Saqib Dadabhoy and late addition/injury replacement Furhan Azmat are the only two players who are still rocking sky blue threads, while the other five – Omar Sheikh, Shaheen Limbada, Atif Mian, Zahid Merchant and Hashim Ghazi – show up in a royal blue and take on their old team. Dadabhoy no doubt wants this match more than anyone, as the dynasty he was fixated on taking over from former GM Zahid Merchant has a brand new identity. The issue is, we don't quite know what that identity is. Dadabhoy drafted a number of new players to the league, who no doubt come with very high reputations. However, it is tough to evaluate what this side brings to the table until we see them play a few matches. What we do know is that they'll be led by a GM who is gritty and isn't afraid to win ugly as long as it's a win. In the exhibition matchup, Dadabhoy was missing his top two picks, and therefore their performance which seemed flat at times cannot be treated as a true reflection of the side's potential. On the other hand, Omar Sheikh and his boys looked to be in midseason form in their exhibition matchup, partly because they had already fitted in two scrimmages beforehand to get a feel of one another. However, playing pretty means nothing if it does not lead to victories, and despite dominating possession throughout the match, their opponents struck when the iron was hot and beat the Spaniards 4-3. Emotions will be running high in this one as former teammates become foes, and though there will be tons of smiles and emotions before kickoff, those will be put to rest once the game begins – both teams will be looking to make a statement and set the tone in a matchup that they've had circled on the calendar ever since the fixture list was announced.
Anatolia FC vs. Samarra FC (10:35PM)
This late-night fixture will be the best way to end off the opening week as the defending champions, Samara take on the “always offense heavy”, Anatolia FC. Samarra came into the exhibition games with a lot of uncertainty sparking from their drafted unknown qualities. However, our critics weren’t ready to criticize as they knew GM Danish had the ability to recognize talent. It really seemed like the team was in mid-season form with all cylinders firing from back to front. The chemistry had no unstable bonds and the offensive looked like scoring with every wave of attack (converted most of their chances). The spotlight is always on the new guys at first, but let’s just say Jibran Sakrani and Salman Ahmed will be no strangers to it all season. Former GM, Umer Jabbar was on a mission at the exhibition game, but will be missed at the season opener due to personal travel. The Samarian defense pick off where they left off last year but for Anatolia, it’s back to the drawing board. Every season GM Zain Khilji surely must think on how he will mange on defense. We saw Abdullah Akhtar operating as a forward rather than a defender and fell vary on how different Anatolia will be without Nehad Shihab. Hussam Ayubi will be the team’s anchor on D who will face his former championship team and surely will bring some pointers along with him. With arguably the most dangerous attack in the league maned by Zain, Abdullah, Junaid Akram, and Humeid Masood we expect the Anatolians to keep the “score more goals then your opponents” mentality. Samarra’s attack is strong enough to compete head-on which makes this fixture a real cracker of a match. The pressure is on Anatolia as Samarra seems to already have their business figured out.