Minerva Punjab FC trip FC Goa, meet FC Pune City in finals
MINOO FERNANDES | NT
An inspired Minerva Punjab FC shocked confident looking FC Goa by a solitary goal to book a meeting with FC Pune City in the finals of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Elite Youth League (U-18) at Nagoa ground on Wednesday.
The all important goal, which proved to be the match winner, was scored in the 14th minute of the first session by attacking medio Makan Chothe – who on collecting a cross from Luntinmang Haokip let go a low left footed shot that gave no chance at all to FC Goa keeper Manav Baraskar.
FC Goa who started the encounter brightly for the first ten minutes of play did not let their rival’s opening goal dent their spirit and came up with several goal bound moves which, however, fizzled out due to lack of sharp shooting abilities of their strikers.
F C Goa’s striker Joybert Almeida, who had speed as an asset in his favour and Meuton Fernandes his co-partner in the upfront failed to deliver when chances came their way. While Joybert beat the opponent’s defender on sheer speed, he lost control of the ball on two clear occasions in the first session and Meuton simply appeared to fade away at crucial moments
As such, F C Goa could do nothing much upfront to threaten the rival defense in both the sessions of play.
Minerva Punjab FC’s plan was simple. Block all FC Goa crosses from the flanks and give the FC Goa forwards no space to shoot. The visitors did that well but FC Goa failed to opt for Plan B or did not have one.
While F C Goa enjoyed possession after being in arrears, their strikers did not display enough courage and determination to get past the rival defense and thus lost some glaring scoring chances.
After spurning some good chances in the first session, FC Goa could not find the same rhythm in the second session with Minerva Punjab F C having the lion’s share in ball possession and positional play.
After F C Goa created a few dangerous forays through Doyal Alves on the left ,Minerva Punjab F C created a breakaway move in the 7th minute of play but the fine header off Mohammed Ajaruddin just missed the mark narrowly.
F C Goa retaliated with a smart move which saw Joybert Almeida coming in possession of the ball but his well taken shot hit a rival defender in the 6 yard box and travelling for an abortive flag kick.
Then was the lethal counter move from Minerva Punjab F C team which culminated into a goal. Striker Mohammad Ajaruddin raced down the left flank and sent a cross to Makan who dodged an F C Goa defender before unleashing a left footer that crashed to the far end of F C Goa nets, with keeper Manav unable to do anything to prevent the ball from entering the nets.
The match thereafter was closely fought in the first session, though Minerva Punjab F C appeared to be a better side in the second half, having a good grip over the proceedings with their defense looking rock solid while the midfield functioned efficiently to create some dashing moves.
FC Goa who launched some forays did try to put some hard efforts with the defense as well as the mid field moving in unison with each other but nothing worthwhile could come up of these forays as the Minerva defenders pegged them down.
Minerva Punjab’s captain Md. Shahjahan was easily the pick of the lot as he sparked with his quick footwork and measured passes but somehow the F C Goa defense managed to survive those Minerva onslaughts.
Time ticked by and F C Goa looked for the leveler which eluded them and thus ended Goa’s campaign in the 2018 Elite Youth League.
FC Pune City 2 – 0 Aizawl FC