The Raza brothers starred for their respective age groups as they fired up Wellington International School at the NSL weekend.
Yousuf Raza netted the decisive goal in a 1-0 victory over Al Sadiq Islamic English School in the Under-16s, while his younger brother Hasan notched an impressive brace in the 6-1 win against GEMS New Millennium School Al Khail Under-14s at The Sevens.
While Hasan’s squad remains at the top of the Dubai 1 table with a flawless four victories in as many matches, Yousuf’s score was much-needed for an U16 side who hadn’t tasted a win since their opener.
As such, the older Raza was more satisfied with getting Wellington International School back on track than the individual accolade of being man of the match.
“I’m more happy that we won because we hadn’t won in a few matches, so it feels good to come out with a victory,” he said. “We played better as a team. We have a good set of individuals, but we don’t always play so well as a team.”
Goal scorers often get the glory, but sometimes a standout defensive performance can make all the difference. Such was the case in Indian High School’s narrow 1-0 win over Delhi Private School Dubai, with Vivek Rajendran vital as he patrolled the back line.
Team-mate Ashwath Panicker’s score put Indian High School ahead, but it was Rajendran’s effort to shut down the opposition’s attack which inspired a necessary clean sheet.
As well as sticking to the fundamentals, Rajendran displayed extraordinary dedication by studying film in preparation.
“The coach supported us really well and said ‘if you stick to the basics, you’ll win this game’. We did make mistakes, but we overcame them by a large margin,” he said. “I prepared well for this match. I saw how the great players played and replayed them again and again. That’s how I approached it.”
While Rajendran dominated play on his team’s side of the field, man of the match regular Austin Thomas was unstoppable on attack in Indian High School’s 22-0 win over Credence High School in U14.
Thomas produced the jaw-dropping stat line of the day with seven goals and four assists as he channeled his favourite player and fellow No10 Lionel Messi for his third straight man of the match honours.
“I keep getting better at my shooting ability and passing accuracy,” said Thomas – a scary thought for his upcoming opponents.
Another repeat man of the match winner, Rahpeima Amirhossein, followed his four goals from last week with two more in Salman Farsi School’s 5-1 victory in U16.
Coach Mohammad Rahmatollah has found a formation which works and leverages Amirhossein's attacking skills.
“In the last two games, we understood we could put him forward as the peak front and scorer. He’s a finisher, so we put two wingers for him that could support him,” Rahmatollah said. “It’s working out and that’s how we see him right now, as our front attacker.”
Despite the four-goal difference in the win, Rahmatollah felt his side wasn’t as ready for the match as they were last week and believes complacency will need to be corrected.
“When the guys won the last game, they took it as a sign of weakness for all the other teams. We told them that’s not the case. They were one man short and we still could not take advantage of every chance,” Rahmatollah said.
“The team needs to work on discipline more than anything physical. Today’s discipline was not there.”
In the Sharjah & Northern Emirates region, Ayush Salian’s hat trick and two assists spurred Sharjah Indian School past Ryan International School in U14.
The victory marked the first for Sharjah Indian School as they climb the table in hopes of reaching the next round, while Ryan International School are still searching for their first win.
Vivek Rajendran is Man of the Match after he helps The Indian High School U16s grind out a tough 1-0 victory against Delhi Private School in Round 4 of Emirates Islamic National School League Football.
Musa Okasha believes his side can achieve much more after taking the Man of the Match award as The Winchester School Jebel Ali U14s beat GEMS Modern Academy 2-0 in Round 4 of Emirates Islamic National School League Football.