By Daniel Cochran
The Bahrain Womens’ League is reaching its conclusion with Ravens FC – who’ve never won the title before – on top of the pile. Unlike my fairly neutral travels around the men’s game in Bahrain I’ve got a vested interest in Ravens, with both my niece Noha Barbir and friend (and former Bahrain international) Rama Salem playing for them. They’re also the only team I’ve ever seen playing primarily in teal and somehow it doesn’t look awful.
Unbeaten until last week (which happened to be the first league game I’ve been able to get to this season, proving that I continue to be a massive jinx on any team I support), Ravens still enjoyed a 5-point cushion over joint second placed Seef FC and Black Castle going into this week’s fixture against Tekkers. With only three games left, a win the Bahrain FA Headquarters tonight is vital.
Ravens start strongly, peppering the Tekkers goal but with their excellent keeper being equal to everything that comes her way. Sometimes it takes a moment of real quality to break the deadlock and Ravens’ Zainab Al Qaidoom provides it; dropping a shoulder and curling a beautiful shot into the top corner to make it 1-0 to the league leaders.
After this promising start, Ravens allow their opponents back into it, with a little passivity creeping into their game. There are chances and breakaways at both ends, but it’s Tekkers who strike next with a fine floated effort from range to make it a well-deserved 1-1 at the break.
Ravens – with coach Dan Grimes’ insistence on more physicality ringing in their ears – start the second half well and are soon out of sight thanks to Ghada Mudara, who bangs in a hat-trick (including a beauty into the top corner and a back-to-goal swivel and shot – seriously this match was full of great goals). Wed Al Jowder also gets on the scoresheet; slotting home after some nice work out wide from Noha Barbir.
Somewhere in the middle of this goal glut Tekkers get one back (another fantastic long-range free-kick just eludes keeper Liza Jose), but in general they struggle to find their rhythm. Rama Salem and Janet Kellagher in the Ravens’ defence snuff out everything that comes their way; repeatedly setting up quick counters and stretching a tiring Tekkers backline.
Ravens 5-2 Tekkers
Super Soccer Academy 2-1 Black Castle FC
It’s not over yet. Ravens face second-placed Super Soccer Academy (who beat Black Castle last night in what sounded like a *very* heated match with much siuuu-ing) in their next game. Then it’s third-placed Seef FC (who have a game in hand but are 8 points back with 9 to play for) in their season finale. A win next week ends any doubt though; Ravens will be Bahraini champions.