All the best goals from the Emirates Islamic National School League. First up is the Dubai pools.
Earlier in the day, IHS defeated Adab Iranian School 2–0 while GEMS Our Own Indian held their own against sister school GEMS New Millennium Al Khail 2–1 in the quarter-final.
Both sides were exhausted but still gave their best in the final game. IHS Oud Metha edged GEMS Modern Academy 3–2 on penalties in the semi-final while GEMS Our Own Indian thrashed titleholders French school LFI Georges Pompidou 4–0 in their semi-final encounter.
With both teams looking to create chances, Safwan Beig of IHS saw one and made a looping shot that was deflected by a GEMS Our Own Indian School defender to keeper Adithya Jairaj, who was not able to save it get past the goal.
That was the only goal scored in the game and that was enough to give IHS-Oud Metha a reason to celebrate when the final whistle was blown. IHS coach Khrisnendra Dubey said: “Yes, it was a lucky break but that was not the only reason we emerged winners in the Dubai tournament.”
Citing team effort, Dubey added: “Nobody played an individual game it is a team sport. When someone was down, somebody stepped up.”
Dubey praised replacement goalkeeper Kyle Fernandes who substituted Joel Sam after getting injured early in the first half of the final.
Fernandes, a midfielder, was undaunted and proved his skills by keeping a clean sheet and saving at least four on-target shots by GEMS Our Own Indian School.
GEMS Our Own Indian School’s Pundalik Roogi said they can still bounce back in the knockout stage.
“We had a tough win against LFI – we dominated them 4-0 and that consumed all our energy,” he said.
The bespectacled striker won back-to-back man of the match awards and brought his total haul for the day to six goals, scoring two in each game he played from the quarter-final to the final.
He hit a brace in their 3-1 victory over Springdales in the last-eight before scoring two more in their 2-1 semi final triumph over Millennium School.
It was not a one-man show, however, for Wellington as coach Rob Weaver effectively rotated his players.
Weaver gave Abdelnaser only a couple of minutes playing time in the second half of the semi-final and that was good enough to give him energy to score two quick goals in the first half of their final against DPS-Dubai.
Greek player Harry Mantziaris also stepped up for Wellington in the final and was named man of the match.
Another effective player was Eissa Aburashid, who made several assists to Abdelnaser and replacement goalkeeper Mohammad Himmo, who was unnerved and conceded only three goals in three matches.
“That was truly enjoyable – us cruising to victory and winning the Dubai Cup,” Abdelnaser said.
“There were lots of ankles broken because we moved fluidly on the field and our opponents couldn’t catch us. We won as a team.”
Weaver added: “We had a fantastic team performance and good organisation. We took our chances when we had them.
“Our defence was tight and we didn’t give our opponents much chances. We controlled the game and since we played three straight games, we cooled down after each match to keep the momentum – it was a total team performance.”
By clinching the Dubai Cup, Wellington also avenged their previous 3-1 loss to DPS-Dubai in the initial stage of the tournament.
Wellington did not get past the group stage at the inaugural tournament but will now lead the eight Dubai teams in the Round of 16 stage which resumes on January 21.
Meanwhile, DPS-Dubai’s Naushad Ali said his team’s aim for glory is still alive as they will also be competing in the knockouts.
“We just need to sit down, work hard and prepare for next year’s knockout stage,” he said.