Both Chandigarh and Haryana will go through to the National Finals
The 36th Sub-Junior Coca-Cola Cup U-15 football tournament is nearing its business end, and the intensity of the games has appropriately gone up a notch.
In an electrifying North Zone final held at the Maharaja Lalit Sen Memorial College Ground in Himachal Pradesh on Friday, Chandigarh beat Haryana 2-0 to emerge as zonal champions. By virtue of the win, Chandigarh have qualified for the National Finals of the tournament – the place where every young footballer in India wants to be.
Aashrey Bhardwaj opened the account for Chandigarh in the 11th minute of the match, and Yudhveer Singh doubled the lead for his team in the 90th minute, putting the contest well out of Haryana’s reach.
Bhardwaj was also named the man-of-the-match for his exploits, but there was some consolation for Haryana as their star player Neeraj was given the player of the tournament (North Zone) award. The best goalkeeper of the tournament award went to Yashovardhan Mehra of Chandigarh.
Apart from the two finalists, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Delhi were the other teams that took part from the North Zone. As per the rules of the tournament, both the North Zone finalists, i.e., Chandigarh as well as Haryana, will advance to the upcoming National Finals.
About the Coca-Cola Cup
The Coca-Cola Cup has a rich history of unearthing football talent from India. In 2008 Coca-Cola joined hands with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and signed a sponsorship deal of three years for the Coca-Cola Mir Iqbal Hussain Trophy (the National Under-16 football championships).
In 2012, the championship was re-named as ‘The Coca-Cola Cup’. The competition has grown tremendously in the last few years, with the number of participating players rising all the time.
The event has helped football in India grow from the grassroots and has raised awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle among youngsters.
The Coca-Cola Cup is played at three different levels - the district level, the state level and the national level.
District level: At the district level, inter-school matches are held across 106 cities, and the best players from these matches are given a chance to play at the state level. Camps are held for these select talented players, who then go on to form the respective state teams.
State level: The state teams, selected in part from matches held at district level, compete in the Zonal Finals (North, West, South, East and North-East). The top two states from each zone progress to the National Finals.
National level: The top 10 state teams from the five zones play in a group format. The top two teams from each group then qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament, ultimately leading to the crowning of the National Champion State.
The U-15 Coca-Cola Cup acts as a talent scouting ground, with AIFF officials carefully monitoring the progress of the players at the state and national levels. The hand-picked players are enlisted as probables for the Indian national U-16 team, which is a dream-come-true for any aspiring professional footballer in India.