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Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 13:16 UK

Abdi's A-List leave it late in London

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Your Game in London

Abdi's A-list proved the drama from Your Game 2008 continued right into the last minute of the regional finals by winning a sensational match 5-4 against Hammersmith and Fulham in the men's London final on Sunday.

In doing so, they became the last of 40 teams to qualify for the national final in Birmingham joining Ladies First who also won a thrilling match 3-1 against last year's overall winners Re United.

London will also be represented by women's winners Positive Futures and Breyers FC who both won on Saturday.

During two days of glorious sunshine, 70 men's and women's teams from across London failed to let the heat deter them, producing some of the best matches Your Game has seen this year.

Although the action did get heated as the teams vied for victory, the quiet central London venue near Russell Square witnessed an electric atmosphere. Teams were chanting the name of local football freestyler Billy Wingrove during his slick performance on Saturday while PA's from Bashy and Tor led to a near-stampede for the mic as London's young MCs battled to show their skills.

But amongst the commotion Abook Rovers, Real Impact, MWSF Ravens and local lads Coram's Field All-Stars all won a place at the final for their fair play.

In Sunday's men's final Nabil Sheik Yusuf was Abdi's A-List's hero dragging them back from 2-0 down with a hat-trick which put them on the verge of victory. But Hammersmith and Fulham's Nathan Burland stubbornly refused to let his team be beaten scoring three goals himself.

The match was a right old-fashioned ding-dong with goals coming thick and fast but with the spectacle poised at 4-4, up stepped Kasim Aidara, complete with red boots, to fire home the winner.

Billy Wingrove wows the crowd on Saturday
Billy Wingrove wows the crowd on Saturday in central London

The win was a triumph for Abdi's A-List in their first tournament coming after the team almost didn't make it to the festival at all.

"We only got the team together this morning," said manager and keeper Abdigani Omar, whose team are largely made up of Somali players from south-east London.

"We were struggling with transport to get the players here but it was definitely worth waking up for on a Sunday morning and it's good to see teams coming together from different areas where they otherwise wouldn't get the chance."

Earlier, Ladies First and Re United had the crowd in raptures with some superb skill during one of the best women's finals Your Game has seen.

Ladies First took control with Laura Jeffries scoring early on but having lapped up the freestylers at lunchtime, the crowd were thrilled when Ladies First goalkeeper Frida Ayisi forgot all about her stopping duties and began one of her many forays up the pitch leaving the goal unattended.

It was clear she was desperate to score and those watching were amazed when another Ayisi run led to a superb goal for the keeper, making it 2-0. Jeffries added a third goal with Re United, dominant in London last year, grabbing a consolation as they wondered what they had been hit by.

"To be honest I don't usually play in goal," said Ayisi unsurprisingly afterwards. "But we didn't have a keeper today so I stepped in. We're very excited to make the final, Birmingham should watch out!"

Ladies First may have to keep their eyes on the women's winners from Saturday, however.

Positive Futures trounced Real Impact 5-0 but although Tanya Beverly chipped in with four goals, the womens teams competing at St Andrews will have to watch out for the tremendous defending of Katrina Smith whose blocks and tackles kept Real Impact star player Awo Abdilladhi quiet.

Saturday's women's winners Positive Futures
Saturday's women's winners Positive Futures

In the men's' contest Breyers FC wrapped up what must have been a perfect day for their project as they beat the Breyers Cobras 2-1 with a late goal from Kevin Bondjanga.

It was a tough blow for the Cobras who defeated last year's national Your Game winners United All-Stars in the semi-finals but substitute Jamie Brooks proved a telling introduction as his defensive solidity helped FC cling on.

"The day has been very well organised," said manager Tony Stavri whose team come from Walthamstow. "It's a very good idea bringing the football, music and media altogether. It's what it's all about - getting the kids off the streets."

Breyers FC and the rest of London's winners will all now head to Brimingham on May 19 to battle it out with teams from Solent, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle and Birmingham to see who are the 2008 Your Game champions.

Your Game is a partnership between the BBC and the Football Foundation which offers young people from under-served communities the chance to get involved in football, music and the media.



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see also
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Nunsthorpe steal prize in Leeds
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Your Game is back in 2008
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