By taking down BUSS in penalty kicks in the Tehel Cup Final last summer, Yemen Elite – now referred to as Lackawanna FCY – earned the right to represent the Buffalo & District Soccer League in the Werner Fricker Open Cup Region I quarterfinals.
Faress Saleh's team will pay a visit to Vereinigung Erzgebirge at 2:30 p.m. April 15 at 130 Davisville Road, Warminster, Pa. The winner advances to play the winner of Real VSA vs. Christos FC on May 6.
"I have confidence in my guys," Saleh said in a message. "We will focus on ball control with no bad giveaways. We're hoping to come back with a win."
Here's the roster of players traveling to Warminster, with pertinent notes:
Notes: Hanford, a Clarence High School product, is the incumbent Yemen Elite 'keeper, while Colosimo was his counterpart in the tournament final. Both are long, athletic options.
Notes: Saleh made savvy additions in physical Graham Harris from Sharpshooters, active center back Saleman Salim from FC Yemen and attack-minded Prince SaySay from BUSS, who started last weekend's 2-0 Amateur Cup win for BSC Raiders. Ahmad Adil is a sturdy defender, while Abdi Salim, from the Empire Development Academy, and Akram Alkadi round out the unit.
Notes: There's no shortage of leadership in the midfield, where field general Escobar, experienced Peter Marlette and feisty Abdulqawi Mohamed can galvanize a team. Wasson and Loncar are among the BDSL's best in keeping the ball, while Alakaeda, Griffiths and Lawler are capable of striking from distance. Ruotsi, as well as listed forwards Shawish, Chirwa and Kassem, can be valuable wide players.
Notes: Although Yemen Elite star Kerri Pryce won't make the trip, Saleh has powerful options in Kpainay, who finished the 2017 BDSL season on a high note, as well as speed to burn with Shawish and Kassem. Mercurial Menr is a dangerous finisher, while Chirwa is a versatile piece.
Midfielder Abdulqawi Mohamed, a staple of FC Yemen, the side that merged with Yemen Elite to form Lackawanna FCY, was brimming with anticipation ahead of Sunday's clash in eastern Pennsylvania.
"I’m very excited about the cup match this weekend," Mohamed said. "I believe we have the right players and the right coaches to win this cup."
Former FC Yemen manager Taha Omar will serve as Saleh's assistant on Sunday.
We'll do our best to provide match updates on Sunday afternoon, although they may not be as plentiful as Raiders' trip to Virginia. Keep an eye on the @OfficialBDSL and @YemenElite Twitter accounts in addition to @BN_Soccer.