On the surface it promised to be a one-sided contest – U-19 Crystal Palace, an EPL Academy Team taking on a bunch of boys spotted, nurtured and Coached under AIFF Academy Project. On the field, however, David won.
AIFF U-18 Academy boys pipped U-19 Crystal Palace 6-5 in sudden death after both the teams were locked 2-2 after extra time to advance to the final of the 120th IFA Shield at the floodlit Mohun Bagan ground on Wednesday.
In a totally one-sided first half, AIFF Academy boys playing all over scored twice hit the post twice and missed four easy chances. Failing to seal the fate in the first half itself, the British Academy came back strongly in the second half to restore parity to take the match to the extra time and eventually the tie-breaker.
The AIFF Academy boys, current champions of the U-18 I-League await the winners of Frenz United and Tata Football Academy in the Final.
I am proud of the boys: Coach Floyd Pinto
For the AIFF Academy boys, Bodo converted from the spot in the 28th minute only for the score to be doubled by Prosenjit Chakraborty at the stroke of half-time.
In the tie-break, Goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh, much like an Albatross saved twice to set up the victory while Anirudh Thapa, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Prosenjit, Bodo, Bhutia and Surya made no mistake in slotting home. However, rival Goalkeeper Colm Mcadden denied Edmund Lalrindika from the spot.
Head Coach Floyd Pinto said that he was “proud of his boys.”
“I am proud of them. But the job isn’t done as yet. There is no time for celebrations,” he told www.the-aiff.com.
The first half was totally one-sided. In the 21st minute, Prosenjit came agonisingly close to scoring when his left-footed chip tested Colm. Three minutes later Prosenjit, collecting Nijwm Muchahary’s cross from the right did manage to beat Colm, but the bar stood in between.
A goal seemed inevitable and it eventually came in the 28th minute. Defender Emmanuel Ormore handled the Ball in his box prompting the Referee to spot to the spot. Bodo gleefully converted.
The goal forced Crystal Palace to fall deep as the AIFF midfield pivot of Anirudh Thapa and Abhishek Haldar kept spreading balls to both wings. On one occasion a Thapa square pass found Bodo inside the box who directed it towards the goal and wheeled away in celebration thinking he had scored. But the ball went on to hit the post.
AIFF doubled their lead off the last attack of the half through Prosenjit volley from the right side of the box. The punch of the shot was such that even as Colm stooped down and managed to get a hand to it, the ball rolled into the net as the colts headed to the half-time with a two-goal cushion.
The second half was a stark contrast to the first as no team really dominated. If AIFF Academy took their opponents for granted they got a timely reminder in the 52nd minute as Crystal Palace pulled one goal back for the visitors.
The Federation boys were visibly affected by Abhishek's withdrawal due to injury at the hour mark as they could not gain effective control of the midfield. The vocal Thapa stayed the Leader in the midfield and was distinctly unlucky not to get his name in the scoresheet when his curler in the 71st minute missed by a whisker.
But pretty much against the run of play Crystal Palace equalised in the 80th minute to set up a riveting last ten minutes but none were able to add to their margin.
The first of extra time saw AIFF come out hard at their opposition. The AIFF boys preferred to build it up from the back with Crystal Palace preferring to wait for the counter attacks.
In the brightest moment of the first period of extra time, Prosenjit sent Bodo through. The forward took a couple of strides towards goal and slid it past Colm but the ball finished on the wrong side of the post.
AIFF Coach Floyd Pinto replaced Nijwm Muchahary with Edmund Lalrindika in the second half of the extra time and almost immediately he found Prosenjit free inside the box. The goalscorer poised himself, took a touch and let fly a powerful shot that which hit the side netting.
The tie-breaker was enforced after 120 minutes wherein some precision shooting from the boys and an acrobatic Prabhsukhan snatched it for the AIFF boys.Published 02 Mar 2016, 21:21 IST