A look back at Pune FC Under-19 team's performance this season
Pune FC Under-19s capped off a tough 2014/15 season with a third-placed finish in the recently concluded PDFA Super Division League. The long season which began in August came to an end on Monday, with the 2nd Convocation of the Peninsula Pune FC Academy for the graduating batch of 2015 as well as the last game in the PDFA League.
The campaign was definitely a thrilling one with a number of highs and lows and we take a look back at some interesting moments from this memorable season.
Led by Naushad Moosa, Pune FC Under-19s put on an improved show compared to last season. And, undoubtedly their biggest achievement this season was winning the Under-19 I-League Maharashtra Zone in a thrilling fashion.
Pune FC, who had lost the second round home tie to city rivals DSK Shivajians 1-3, were forced to play catch-up for most of the time. However, they made the most of the opportunities that fell their way emerging victorious in the zonal phase on the last day on goal difference.
The players learned from their mistakes: Moosa
Coach Naushad Moosa recalled the moment and explained, “The players were shocked after the defeat to Shivajians. But the best part was they realized their own mistakes and worked on it. What else can a Coach ask for? In our away game against Shivajians, we conceded an early goal, but the players were determined and scored three goals to get the revenge and crucial three points.”
Highlighting the turning point in the season after some tough results early on, he added, “While that (3-1 win over Shivajians) was an important result, I feel that along with Mumbai FC’s unexpected draw against Shivajians was the turning point of the season. We sensed and took the opportunity to win all the remaining matches thereafter and come out on top in the zonals.”
The other high moment for Pune FC this season was finishing runners-up in the U19 I-League final phase. After a tough campaign in the 2013-14 season, where the team was eliminated in the zonal phase, Pune FC put up a great show this year and were unlucky to narrowly miss out on their third title in the final phase played in Pune.
Meanwhile, Pune FC also participated in five all All-India level open tournaments this season with the aim of gaining more exposure. Interestingly, they reached the semifinals of the All India Kalinga Cup in Cuttack back in November which was their best performance in these five competitions.
The other tournaments included the Bordoloi Trophy in Assam (September, Quarters), DSK Cup in Pune (October, Quarters), Gorkha Gold Cup in Darjeeling (November, Quarters) as well as the Kalliyath Haji Memorial in Tirur (April, Group Stage).
The team scored a total of 142 goals throughout the season
According to Coach Moosa, the players did take some time to settle in as a team initially. However, once the understanding levels increased, the results were there for everyone to see.
While Pune FC played a total of 42 games this season, they emerged victorious 25 times and had a success rate of 59.52%. Meanwhile, they also played five draws while losing twelve times.
In these 42 games, Pune FC hammered a staggering 142 goals at an average of 3.38 goals per game while conceding 53 at 1.26 goals per game.
A total of seventeen players contributed to these 142 goals with striker Farukh Choudhary emerging as the top scorer having netted 37 times. In fact, the youngster also scored a club record seven hat tricks in the three different competitions in the process.
His strike-partner Arif Shaikh (20 goals) followed in the second place as Altamash Sayed (14), Chesterpaul Lyngdoh (13) and Dimple Bhagat (12) completed the top-5 goalscorers for the club.
Six players from the squad have been promoted to the first team
Talking more about the number of goals scored, Pune FC also set a record in the PDFA Super Division League top scoring with 79 goals in 15 games as they finished third. Once again it was Farukh who emerged as the top scorer in the competition with 25 goals.
Towards the end of the season, Pune FC Under-19s achieved another feat when they reached the semifinals of the prestigious IFA Shield for the first time in the club’s history. Their dream run was however cut short after a hard-fought defeat to United SC in the semis.
While thirteen cadets graduated from the 2015 PPFCA batch, six of them have been promoted into the senior team for the upcoming 2015-16 season. They include Altamash Sayed, Myron Mendes, Asheer Akhtar, Chesterpaul Lyngdoh, Dimple Bhagat and Md. Ashique.
Giving his views on the promotions, Coach Moosa added, “Pune FC is known for producing good players from the academy and it shows with more players being promoted into the senior team every year. These six players will have to work hard to seal their place in the senior team. I wish them all the very best for the upcoming season and hope that they make Pune FC and India proud.”