Salgaocar FC's U-19 team crowned GFA Third Division Champions
Margao: Salgaocar FC’s U19s have been on a role this year. They went on to add another feather to their cap as they clinched the GFA Third Division title in some style after an outstanding overall display saw them demolish Portais Sporting Club 6-0 in the all-Goa final played at Cansaulim Ground.
The winners led 3-0 at the breather. In the process the Greens have scored a total of 64 goals in the campaign and conceded a meagre three.
In what has been the most one-sided final in recent times, the day clearly belonged to Salgaocar’s striker Stefen Fernandes who not only scored a fine hat-trick, but also won his side a penalty that was duly converted by strike partner Naro Hari, in addition to setting up team mate Denil Rebello for his side’s 5th goal. Salgaocar asserted their superiority at the outset creating some early chances that mainly came through the left flank with Lalit Teriyad and Raja Rawat whipping in teasing crosses.
After a couple of valid penalty shouts for rash tackles on Naro Hari and Dominic Soares, the Greens broke the deadlock in the 14th. Stefen Fernandes neatly intercepted a pass on the edge of the box and beat a couple of defenders to calmly slot past an advancing keeper.
Salgaocar could have soon after doubled their lead, but Naro Hari was slow to react to a ball played in by Stefen from the right with the keeper off his line and beaten, however, a timely sliding tackle ensured Portais were still in the game. Thereafter, Naro was unlucky not to find himself on the score sheet as his pile driver thundered off the underside of the crossbar and bounced back into play.
Salgaocar did however double their lead in the 32nd minute when Stefen was clumsily pushed to the floor in the box after beating his marker. Naro Hari who stepped up to take the resultant spot kick, calmly slotted to the right of a diving Richie Rodrigues in the Portais goal. In the 41st minute, Stefen found the back of the net and made it 3-0 to the Greens when his beautiful curler from the top of the box sneaked in to the far post leaving the keeper with no chance.
Portais looked most dangerous from thro-ins as Paulo Joa’s long throw ins into the box did cause the odd anxious moment for the Greens. On one such occasion, Assli Gonsalves’ smart header missed the upright by not much.
The second half continued in much the same vein as the Greens were clearly hungry for more. Wave after wave of Salgaocar attack resulted in the 4th goal in the 50th minute when Lalit made a darting run on the left and sent in a pin-point cross for Stefen to complete his hat-trick, much to the delight of his team-mates.
Stefen then turned provider as he turned his man and got into the box and having done all the spadework, he unselfishly relayed the ball to substitute Denil Rebello to score in the 70th minute. Denil helped himself a second deep into stoppage time as his stiff grounder rolled into the net despite keeper Richie getting his hand to it after being put through cleverly by Samson.
Ms. Swati Salgaocar, Vice President – Youth Development at Salgaocar Football Club who was in attendance at the game was visibly pleased and had this to say at the conclusion of the finals, “It’s a great feeling that all of our hard work has finally paid off. To win the Third Division unbeaten while playing against seasoned teams in no mean feat.”
“We have had several detractors along the way who did not think we deserved to be here, but we have proved them wrong. Full credit to our coaching staff and the boys for their determination and perseverance.”
Portais Sporting Club took home the Runners up trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 15,000, given away by GFA Executive members Mr. Santosh Bandodkar & Adv. Domnick Pereira, whilst Salgaocar walked away with a glittering trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 25,000, given away by GFA Vice President, Mr. Lavinio Rebello and GFA Executive Member, Mr. Anthony Leo Fernandes.
Also present on the occasion were Mr. Arnold Costa, GFA Executive Committee Member, who introduced the dignitaries, Mr. Adlear D’Cruz, General Secretary – Salgaocar Football Club and Head Coach of the Senior team, Mr. Derrick Pereira.
Winning the GFA Third Division title should no doubt give Salgaocar’s juniors the much needed confidence ahead of the final leg of the U-19 I-League, scheduled to be played in Pune later in the year, where they will be up against 8 of India’s finest sides.