The colourful start to the inaugural Emirates Islamic National School League Football (NSL Football) continued in Abu Dhabi on Saturday with another glut of goals
and a flurry of red cards.
There were 51 goals in total, both Al Yasmina School’s Under-16s and U-14s teams hitting six apiece.
Their U-16s recorded an impressive 6-1 win against ADNOC School, but it was 14-year-old goalkeeper Will Blackmore who really caught the eye.
The Al Jazira academy starlet was imperious between the sticks, superbly saving an Ali Al Ameri penalty in the first half before reeling off a string of important stops in the second, including one spectacular double save.
“It was a comfortable result but I was kept busy. I did pretty well but it was a team effort,” said the Coventry City fan, who bases his game on England number one Joe Hart and ex-Sky Blues stopper Keiren Westwood.
“I like him as I was a mascot at Coventry and I used to chat to him.
“He was lovely and an inspirational guy for me.”
Having lived in the UAE for just over two years, the teenager was snapped up by the Arabian Gulf League side 18 months ago.
“It’s going really well,” he said.
“There’s not many expats at the academy and the culture’s very different to mine but I think I’ve settled in well. It took me a while but now I’m really enjoying it.”
Despite his heroics, team-mate Anas Saleh beat Blackmore to the man-of-the-match award for Yasmina, scoring a hat-trick and also grabbing three assists.
Merryland International School U-16s came from 2-0 down at the interval to win an eight goal thriller against The Cambridge High School 5-3.
Man-of-the-match Amro Al Abbas’ brace aided the Merryland fight back.
Al Abbas said: “The coach said don’t lose hope and to try and again and we’d win. We never thought the game was over.”
Our Own English High School U-16s made it back-to-back wins with an 8-0 triumph against Al Ain International School, despite seeing Leith Boufateh, who had earlier scored a goal, sent off.
There was also a red card for Al Bateen Secondary School’s Antonio De Leo in the final U-16s match of the day, but his side held on for a precious 0-0 draw against Abu Dhabi Indian High School.
Head coach Matt Pollock said: “It was a great defensive effort by us after the red card. The boys at the back defended extremely well and we worked as a team to keep theIndian School out.”
Al Yasmina U-14s were among the goals again with a 6-0 win against Merryland.
Having bagged a goal and several assists last week, the diminutive Carl Masrajian stole the show with an eye-catching treble and another assist.
“I had a few assists last week and one goal but this week it was my time to shine,” said the little 11-year-old magician.
“We have two wins but we have Al Bateen to play and they are hard. We’ve already lost to them in the league this season 10-2 and they’ll be the team to beat.”
Another pocket dynamo Hadhi Bashir picked up his second successive man-of-the-match award as ADIS beat Our Own High School 3-1.
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Our Own had won 8-1 last week, striker Mohamed Emad bagging four, but he was kept largely quiet by ADIS, scoring a goal and having a penalty saved superbly by Kannan Nandanathil, while Our Own became the third team of the day to have a player sent off.
Alvaro Gabaldon picked up the best player award in the final U-14 game, scoring four as Al Ain International School beat Al Dhafra 9-2.
Gabaldon revealed Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is his favourite player and the Portuguese would surely have been purring at the youngster’s four-goal haul.
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