Week 4 Rumours

We head into Week 4 of the season with the standings completely inverse from week 4 in 2015 - Andalusia top the tables with Hejaz at the bottom. With only two weeks left before the break, every team is fighting for important points before the holidays. The big matchup this week will be Anatolia v Jerusalem in a battle for second place while Andalusia v Samarra could have plenty of drama as well. 

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

Andalusia FC
Andalusia FC profit from a valuable win against Anatolia which sees them atop the table at BISL. The once basement chickens are now high flying eagles and no one could have guessed. What a surprise indeed – it seems every player in the squad is contributing to what has already been a successful season for Andalusia. Fahim Karamat and Ayaz Sethi are in the best form of their lives. Even Farhan Karamat isn’t playing like his usual 'retired player' play-style. What did Hassan Chaudhry do? Ever since he took on a role in management we’ve seen nothing but enhancement. The club will be pleased with their ability to perform on both sides of the pitch limiting their opponents to 8 shots last week and taking 27 of their own. 2 goals from 27 shots isn’t a great conversion rate, and it’s clear to see they are lacking the finishing touch. Shaharyar Khan is known for his finishing and must create opportunities for himself to take on shots that will force their opponents to chase their score. Andalusia now being top are expected to take home another win, but they won't be sneaking up on anyone anymore. Every team stayed back to watch Andalusia play last Sunday and will be looking to dissect their formation. 

Samarra FC
Youth is a good thing. Nay, youth is a GREAT thing. If you look at the rosters in BISL, you’ll see that most players are rather…how do we put this lightly…old. Let’s face it – this is a league for guys that can’t keep up with the rigorous demands of intense football anymore, but do not want to give up on it completely. A perfect medium for the (Barbican) beer-bellied brothers that suit up every Matchday in Brotherhood Soccer. You can only imagine how excited Malton mavens Danish Khan and Khizer Shahzad are every Sunday to dribble circles around opposing geezers Sunday nights. Both men have been in rampant form and providing a ton of flair, finishing, and pace to the Samarra frontline. When you factor in the always-working Umair Jabbar and calm and collected 'Tasmanian Devil' Numair Bari, these guys have a side that’ll give fits to many old heads in the League. The Redblacks picked up their first win of the season against Hejaz last week despite not having the character of GM Umer Jabbar in the backline (who too is travelling). Numair 'the Hedgehog' seamlessly goes from defensive distributor to counterattacking playmaker, and does a great job pulling the strings for his young strike-force to wreak havoc up front. However, the Samarrans face a potential buzz-saw to their developing confidence this week as they go up against the dominant Andalusia this Sunday; they will really have play their best to take any points in this fixture.  

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

Jerusalem FC
With all due respect to Yasser Zia and the mighty Sham, Jerusalem has to be gutted with that result last week. The Sky Blues seemed in control for most of the match, and had repeated chances to take the lead but for Yasser’s impressive shot-stopping ability and a few unlucky bounces off the post. It almost felt like Zia was trying to make a statement with the team he was so integrally a part of in 2014-2015 –a statement along the lines of ‘you REALLY think you are better off with Zahid in net over me’? We won’t confirm whether that is indeed the case or not (largely because the Commissioner does not take well to criticism), but we can definitely say that Zia is more than capable of putting his team on his back and getting Sham back to the semi-finals where they lost to Jerusalem last year. Also, it doesn’t help that JFC once again had to call upon a sub because they only had seven men available to suit up from their squad. Unfortunately, this looks to be the same story until the midseason break for the team, as Mohammed Variava and Shaheen Limbada face extended absences due to travel commitments. While Jerusalem prides itself on having a team full of men capable of playing any position, it begins to become difficult to build chemistry and consistency when guys are asked to fill in different roles week-in/week-out. And the schedule does not do any favours to them, as they face Anatolia’s venomous offense this Sunday. The squad will welcome back their Captain and keeper Zahid Merchant in the mix, fresh off his spiritual journey, which should mean Umair Wasim can move back up to forward. Let’s see if Jerusalem can stay undefeated and ideally get back to their winning ways.

Anatolia FC
Anatolia FC suffered their first defeat at the hands of the Andalusians, which handed them a real wake-up call. The Canaries were outshot 8-27 and thank goodness to the prowess of rookie Umair Sheikh who had a stunning game in goal to keep the score line very respectable for his team. Anatolia only scored one goal and for a team that manufactures goals at such a high rate, it does come as a surprise. The team experienced some downtime in their facilities when Zain Khilji pulled up with another groin injury midway through the first half and was unable to make his mark on the game. He will be questionable for next game; But the Anatolians were able to cope well without their captain, making dire changes in position which enabled a stronger second half performance and a goal to show for it. Taqi Ahmed and Kamil Lotia are praised for their versatility as players, but Taqi can be a little too versatile breaking formation to regain possession and carry the ball forward himself. Shoaib Gaya has been sidelined with a knee injury as the club patiently waits for his MRI results. His loss softens the backline and increases the responsibility of Hasan Afzal to safeguard his goalie. The Anatolia-Jerusalem rivalry continues this Sunday and is even more enticing with former JFC members facing their former club for the first time.

Sham FC vs. Hejaz FC (9:45PM on Field 4)

Sham FC
Sham FC worked hard to gather their first point of the season in another very disciplined performance. Sham spend a lot of time on the drawing board and in the video room to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of each team to cater their gameplan. Not only do they have too much free time, they also are too lazy to come up with their own strategies. We already covered their stud goalkeeper in the Jerusalem column. The Tangerines have a threatening amount of talent but are lacking the precision of the final ball to score. Mohammed Mahmood and Adeel Ansari have been great in the midfield while Athar Siddiqui has been a nuisance to opposing defenders. The one-time Athar was put through, he found the back of the net with a great far-post finish. Ahmed Alvi is playing the transitional role of carrying the ball forward from a defensive position which has really solidified their backline. So much organization goes into the Sham defense, but they throw it all away in just a moment. Again, this week Sham lost their concentration on a set piece and conceded a very preventable goal. They will try to play a complete 50 minutes this week to shut out the struggling Hejaz and retain all 3 points for the first time this season.  

Hejaz FC 
Despite a scoreline that once again had them on the wrong side of it, Hejaz looked a lot less jaded after this loss than they did the previous two weeks. The team finally showed semblance to a coherent side, and though they are still a long way from the standard set by the team in the previous two seasons, they made some progress in getting there. The jury is out on whether this squad can perform like the Hejaz of old, but with AK, Muhammad Shah and Ibrahim Sardar in the mix, you can never count them out. They have too much talent and heart to simply be the team that every opponent looks forward to facing for an easy win. However, Los Blancos will have to do it without rookie Farhan Ahmad in the mix, as the rookie suffered a severe sprain that forced him to withdraw from the competition. The League wishes him well in recovery and hope to see him back next year. Many questions surround what Hejaz should do with the open roster spot. A team that has looked lost at points in defence has found a solid pairing in Asif Ibn Rehana and Omar Adil, which allows them to play the ball out from the back to their superstar wings Shah and AK. However, with Asif also travelling until the new year, they may be best off picking up a replacement defender of the waiver wire. Hejaz face Sham this week in a tie that they can steal three points from if they perform like they did in the second half of their last match.

We’re beginning to see top players depart their sides for the holiday season, so there may be some surprise results this week. Matchweek Four kicks off at 8:45 Sunday Night.