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!