The All India Football Federation (AIFF) Navi Mumbai Regional Academy became the first team to qualify for the final round of the U-19 I-League 2014 following a comprehensive 4-0 win over PIFA Colaba FC at the Goans Sports Ground, Churchgate on Saturday.
The win confirmed AIFF Regional Academy’s qualification to the next round as winners of the Maharashtra Qualifying Group with two games to spare. With six wins from as many matches, the Academy boys sit pretty on 18 points, ten more than their nearest rivals Pune FC, who are also the defending champions. Even if the Academy boys lose their next two matches, it won’t make any difference.
The win, the sixth on the trot, makes the AIFF Academy the only team in the Competition across all qualifying zones with an all-win record. This is the first time the AIFF Academy is competing in the U-19 I-League.
PIFA Colaba FC, who had earlier managed to keep a clean-sheet in an away fixture against Pune FC found them forced on the defensive right from the kick-off as AIFF youngsters pressed hard.
All of the initial persistence paid dividends in the 12th minute when Midfielder Bidyananda Singh’s long throw into the box was flicked on by Nishu Kumar leaving the rival Goalkeeper wrong-footed, as the ball sailed into the top corner to make it 1-0 for the AIFF Regional Academy.
The lead was doubled eight minutes later when winger Suman Sarkar found himself unmarked inside the penalty area and unleashed a low shot into the bottom corner. The goal was Suman’s fifth goal in the League, making him the Academy’s top-scorer in the Competition so far.
The third goal came in the 36th minute. Milan Basumatary, with a deft turn proved too much for his marker and his powerful shot from an acute angle bulged the net.
The rout was completed in the 56th minute when Suman beat the off-side trap with a perfectly timed run and showed great composure to beat the Goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)