The senior national team might be in the doldrums currently but the Under-17 boys representing AIFF today did the game’s governing body proud by lifting the coveted Subroto Cup in front of a packed Ambedkar Stadium here in Delhi.
The team coached by Floyd Pinto defeated Little Angels Paradise School from Wangbal, Manipur, 4-1 to emerge victorious in what was their maiden appearance in the tournament.
What made the win even more special was the fact that the jubilant boys were felicitated by the legendary Pele who was present at the venue on the final day of his week long trip to India.
AIFF were favourites
Coming in to the final, the odds were heavily stacked against the school team from Manipur. The Little Angles boys have had an inspiring run till now but seldom did people deem that they could beat a bunch of boys, who are likely to represent the country at the international level over the next few years. Pinto’s boys had defended astutely throughout the tourney and it seemed unlikely that a school team would threaten them especially after listing inspiring wins against teams from Sweden and Indonesia in the quarter and semi finals respectively.
Boys from Manipur started brightly
The lesser fancied boys from Manipur took the lead against the run of play in the sixth minute through A.K. Layengamba.
Resurgent AIFF strike back
The AIFF boys fought back strongly though and Baoringdao Bodo found the equaliser soon to level things before Half Time. Post the break the team which primarily consisted of players who excelled in the AFC Under 17 championships in Kuwait last year seemed to be a transformed outfit. They scored two goals in quick succession through Rahul Yadav and Edmund to effectively seal the tie. Nijwa Muchahary further heaped on Manipur’s wounds to seal the fate in the 65th minute. With time running out, Nijwa Muchahary compounded the northeastern team misery as he converted from the spot to make it 4-1.
Later in a glittering prize distribution ceremony, Pele handed over the winners trophy to the boys.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Arup Raha PVSM AVSM VM ADC, Ambassador of Brazil Mr. Tovar DeSilva Nunes, former Indian captain Bhaskar Ganguly, AIFF scout & Delhi footballing legend- Abhijoy Basu and AIFF Academy Instructor Scott O’Donnell.Published 17 Oct 2015, 02:47 IST