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 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 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 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 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)
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 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.