Swiss sensation Sasha Haddid's extra time Golden Goal stunned Foremarke to seal victory for Nord Anglia in the NAS Dubai Cup.
The event, organised by Mr Thomas and the rest of the NAS PE department, saw eight of the region's top U11 school teams battle it out in the glorious winter weather on Thursday afternoon.
The preliminary matches took the format of two groups of four, with each team playing each other once. There were some extremely tight games, with many of the standings eventualy being decided by goal difference.
When the dust had settled, Mr Thomas announced which teams would be competing for each place.
7th Place Play-off
Both DESS and GEMS Wellington Academy were unlucky to find themselves in 4th place in their group. However, the two teams produced a hugely entertaining match to finish off their afternoon.
A lovely Zayed Saeed strike and some heroics from Goalkeeper, Mohane Ryan, weren’t enough for GEMS Wellington, as DESS sealed a 3-1 victory thanks to two finely struck goals from Ted Hadkinson, plus a perfectly timed run and header from the impressive Hayden Moutarde.
5th Place play-off
After a cagey opening to the 5th place play-off between Wellington International School and Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, it was WIS who were given the opportunity to strike the first blow, when the referee adjudged a DBS defender to have handled in the area.
Zain Attarwala was the man who stepped up to the plate, and he showed nerves of steel as he dispatched the spot-kick with confidence.
DBS JP fought back admirably, creating several half-chances of their own. However, victory was sealed for WIS when Hatem Lamloum timed his run perfectly as he attacked an in-swinging cross, guiding his header into the corner of the DBS net to seal the win for the men in maroon.
After a flawless record in the group stages, Foremarke took on JESS, who themselves had produced an assured display, winning two and drawing one of their group matches.
Foremarke enjoyed the bulk of possession in the early stages, but JESS, cheered on by a raucous group of travelling fans (the girls netball team), defended staunchly and themselves threatened on the counter-attack.
With the clock running down, Foremarke talisman, Eli, eventually broke the deadlock, and their number 9 sealed victory with a rasping right-footed drive that found the corner of the JESS net.
In the second semi-final, group A winners Nord Anglia went head to head with Kings Al Barsha, who had finished second in their group.
Kings took an early lead when Argentinian Maverick Tintin Sosa beautifully weaved his way past two NAS defenders before firing a low right footed drive into the opposite corner.
NAS responded well, with the hustle and bustle of Sasha Haddid causing problems for the Kings' defence on more than one occasion.
With time running out for the hosts, Edward Reynolds picked out Yannick with a pinpoint cross, and the Danish hitman made no mistake as he coolly guided the ball home to take the match to extra-time.
Five minutes into the additional period, Edward Reynolds sent his team roaring through to the final in emphatic fashion when he stole possession on the half-way line and drove past two Kings' defenders, before unleashing a right-footed thunderbolt that flew into the side-netting.
Kings Head Coach Mr Bedford was disappointed with the result, but very proud of his team’s performance:
“The lads have done themselves proud today. It’s been almost two months since they played together; they were a little rusty in the early rounds, but they grew in confidence with every match and played some lovely stuff. It’s just hard luck that they’ve gone out to a golden goal in the semi’s, but this is great preparation for the BSME Games down in Abu Dhabi in a couple of weeks.”
Despite having just a few minutes to recover from their epic semi-inal, it was NAS who were first to go close when fancy footwork and a perfectly weighted pass from Darius found the lively Reynolds in space on the right. His shot was almost perfect, but whistled just past the far post.
Foremarke were tipped as slight favourites going into the final, but the hosts worked tirelessly to deny Foremarke's classy midfielders space and time, robbing possession on a number of occasions.
This pressure eventually paid dividends when an angled shot from Sasha Haddid was parried by the Foremarke ‘keeper, only for Finn to pounce on the rebound.
Foremarke responded well and were level within four minutes. The ball dropped to their danger man, Eli, just inside the NAS half. His right footed lob-volley looped up and over the NAS keeper, nestling in the net and sending the match into over-time.
With the sidelines now packed with parents, players and teachers, the excitement and tension during extra-time was palpable.
Motivated by the support, NAS probed for the winning goal; a Yannick free-kick was tipped round the post on seven minutes; Haddid going close just 90 seconds later.
Foremarke looked tired and eventually succumbed to the NAS onslaught when Haddid charged through two defenders and blasted the ball into the net, triggering jubilant celebrations from his team-mates and sending the crowd into raptures.
Foremarke Head Coach, Simon Gray, was far from disheartened by his team’s efforts.
“These boys have played great football all season long. We’ve missed out on a couple of titles in similar fashion, but I’m immensely proud of how they’ve conducted themselves today, and I’m sure the lads will bounce back.”
Nord Anglia Head Coach Mr Thomas was overjoyed with his team after a disappointing display in the recent BSME Football tournament in Bahrain.
“I’m delighted with the way the event ran today – there’s been a lot of late nights gone into the planning phase of the event, so I’m glad it’s gone well and everyone’s had such a positive experience.
“I’m obviously really proud of our boys. We had a bit of a disappointment in Bahrain, so to turn things around in the space of a couple of weeks is fantastic.”