By K.O. Paulson
JEDDAH – The semifinal lineups were completed when Sharafiya Trading BCC and International Indian School Jeddah (IISJ) fought their way to convincing victories in First and Second Divisions respectively in the 12th week of the 16th SIFF-Western Union Soccer 2012 at the Ministry of Education Stadium here last Friday.
Facing must-win situations, both the teams put on a superb performance to earn berths in the last four. While BCC outplayed Nadec Blue Star A 3-1, IISJ boys blanked ABC Kerala XI 2-0.
Nikhil Ramesh was the star of the day for IISJ as he scored both the goals and won the Player of the Match award.
In the other First Division match, which was of academic interest since Al-Bassami Friends and Al-Abeer Medical Group ACC-A had already made it to the semifinals. However, ACC took things serious as usual and the unbeaten Friends which had made sure of their top place in the group with three consecutive wins earlier, could afford to rest their key players.
Though Friends took the lead through a long shot by Ummer Farooq, a cool and calm midfielder Saheer stole the show slowly involving in all the three goals to lead ACC to a 3-1 victory.
Saheer first converted a penalty to level the scores, then sent a neat cross for Jaleel to head home and applied the finishing touches by converting another penalty clinically. And to cap the efforts he won the Player of the Match award.
The much-anticipated match between BCC and Blue Star became one-sided as for the first time in the tournament a team with “imports” combined so well and it proved too good for an unlucky but hardworking Blue Star.
Three professional players from India — Zubair, Hameed and Anees — raised the standard of the game a notch above and Zubair recorded the first hat trick of the tourney and was adjudged Player of the Match. The consolation goal for Blue Star was scored off a penalty by Harris Mannil.
The semifinal lineups:
First Division: Al-Bassami Friends vs. Real Kerala XI and Al-Abeer Medical Group ACC-A vs. Sharafiya Trading BCC.
Second Division: Dr Hassan Ghazawi Hospital ACC B vs. Jeddah Sports Club and Emami Blue Star B vs. IISJ.
The three-month-long event is mainly sponsored by Western Union Money Transfer and supported by Al-Abeer Medical Group, Naseem Jeddah Hospital, Jeddah National Hospital and Rose Biriyani Rice.
Friday’s matches: 4:30 P.M. – (semifinals) ACC-B vs. Jeddah Sports Club; 6:00 P.M. – Veterans’ match; 7.30 P.M. – Friends vs. Real Kerala FC (semifinals).