IFA Shield: Pune FC U-19s top Group B after draw with Mohammedan Sporting
The Pune FC Under-19 team sealed top spot in Group B of the 119th IFA Shield after a goalless draw against Mohammedan Sporting Club in their final group game at the East Bengal Ground in Kolkata on Monday.
In a late afternoon kick-off, Pune FC dominated proceedings from the very beginning but couldn't get the breakthrough and had to settle for a draw. Despite sharing spoils, Pune FC who already sealed a semis spot, finished the group stage in top place with 4 points (1W-1L) ahead of Mohammedan SC (2 pts) and Mohun Bagan (1pt).
Going into the game, Pune FC Coach Naushad Moosa made six changes keeping in mind the compact schedule. Nonetheless, Pune FC dominated proceedings from the start and created the first close chance of the game in the 23rd minute with the strike pair of Arif Shaikh and Farukh Choudhary combining well.
Arif in space played a wall pass to Farukh who controlled, turned and took a crack on goal only to be denied by the Mohammedan custodian. Six minutes later, Pune FC almost took the lead from a corner kick. Winger Pradeesh Clement’s in swinging delivery at the near post was met well by Prakash Sarkar, but his header went agonisingly over. Thereafter, both sides had a few half chances before the first half ended goal-less.
The second half was a similar story with Pune FC dominating proceedings but couldn't penetrate through. In the 78th minute, Pune FC had a glorious chance of taking the lead. Striker Arif got into the clear and beat the keeper in a one-on-one situation in the penalty area. But as he moved towards the right after rounding off the keeper, his shot went wide across the open goal mouth. Pune FC continued to push up in the final moments, but the home side managed to hold on for a goalless draw.
Pune FC will now face Group-A runners-up United SC in the first semifinal on Wednesday at 3.30pm at the Mohun Bagan ground.