Defending champions Goa Maroons bowed out despite a 4-0 thrashing of Santos United in their last match of the Kuwait Indian Football Federation (KIFF) League 2011/12 for the J.P D’Mello Memorial Trophy played at the MOH Grounds, Shuwaikh (Kuwait).
Maroons, with 7 points, fell short of one goal to catch up with Don Bosco Oratory (also 7 points) who qualified with a better goal difference of plus 4 against Maroons’ plus 3.
It began raining during the first half of Maroons-Santos match which made the field slippery. Maroons managed to score 3 quick goals in the first half and they didn’t waste time in finding the net again soon after resumption. It looked Maroons would score the much needed ‘miracle’ goal to get them atleast level with Don Bosco for a play-off, or score even more goals to qualify directly. However, they couldn’t enter the crowded defence of Santos United. Don Bosco fans who were keenly watching the match, along with the spectators, began supporting Santos United which encouraged the lads to stop Marooons from doing any further damage. Ian Dsouza, Zelito Cardozo and Sandy Fernandes (2 goals) found the net for Maroons but the real ‘winner’ eluded them till the end.
Chinchinim topped the group with 9 points from 3 wins and 1 loss.
Kerala outfit Malabar FC, one of the strongest team, physically, made the exit without losing a match in the league. Needing an outright victory to qualify, Malabar started brightly against Navelim, scoring in the first quarter through Sulfi. However, 5 minutes later, Gasper Crasto ensured Navelim finished unbeaten in the first phase with a stunning 30 yard free-kick which Malabar goalkeeper Ruriyan failed to shield (1-1).
Malabar played better in the first half than their established opponents but Navelim star, former Salgaocar-East Bengal and Churchill Brothers footballer Bernard Pires took total charge in the second session to orchestrate the game. His combination with Duarte Ferrao and Simon was amazing.
Navelim topped group D while YRC Rising Stars took second spot. A complete statistics on the league can be accessed at
Earlier, Curtorcares United beat Don Bosco 2-0 for a consolation win. Antony Cardozo and Minguel Mouro scored for the winners. Curtorcares, one of the best teams in the league, were unlucky not to qualify finishing 4th in the group of death with 6 points behind Maroons. They are one the few teams to let in least number of goals against them.
The other match of the day between Indian Strikers and Betalbatim was a ‘sweat-out’ exercise as both teams were already eliminated from the league and the result was inconsequential. The teams shared the spoils of the day one apiece.
The exciting knockout phase begins Friday with all the 4 quarter-finals. Teams that have qualified for the quarters are Chinchinim and Don Bosco from Group A; DHL and Skynet Raiders from Group B; Kuwait Goan Association and United Friends Club from Group C; Navelim YC and YRC Rising Stars from Group D.
The finals of the league are scheduled to be played in June at the end of the season.
KIFF league comprises of 19 clubs affiliated to the federation. They are AVC Sports & Cultural Association, C.R.C. Chinchinim, Curtorcares United, D.H.L. Sports Club, Don Bosco Oratory, FC Sparx, Goan Overseas Association, Gulf Cable Football Club, Indian Strikers, Kuwait Goan association, Malabar United Football Club, Navelim Youth Centre, Real Betalbatim Football Club, Santos Football Club, Santos United, Skynet Raiders Soccer Club, United Friends Club, United Goans Center, and Y.R.C Rising Stars.
(KIFF Report written by Gasper Crasto)