The AIFF Elite Academy and the Tata Football Academy (TFA) are vying to clinch their second silverware as they are scheduled against each other in the grand finale of the U-18 I-League tomorrow (February 10). TFA have won the premier age-group tournament in 2013-14 and it was clinched by the AIFF Elite Academy in the following season.
The AIFF Elite Academy edged past the North-Eastern powerhouse Aizawl FC in the semi-final, courtesy a fine first-half brace from Vlalengzama and one strike from Prosenjit Chakroborty. Aizawl FC pushed their limits in the second half but they couldn’t percolate the sturdy AIFF Academy defense eventually.
The other finalists, Tata Football Academy, secured their spot in the final against Salgaocar FC, thanks to the second-half brace by Shaikom Ronald Singh, who has taken his goal-scoring tally to eight goals in the ongoing U-18 I-League season.
Vijay Kumar, who got severely injured in the semi-final, is now fit to play and his availability will provide much-needed relief for the coach Lee Johnson. Lee sounded confident before the final, “We’re pretty confident about our team and we’re most likely to feature an unchanged eleven tomorrow. Once we play up to our potential, we can lift the trophy.” He further adds, “The hopes are high for the final, but only one team can finish it off as the winner. There’s absolutely no pressure on the boys before the final. If they win, it’ll be the cherry on top.”
The AIFF Elite Academy had completely outplayed Aizawl FC in the semifinal and they are now ready for the final shot against the Kolkata-Jamshedpur Zonal Champions. “Possibly the best match was saved for the final and both teams will play out of their skin to clinch the silverware. It’s going to be a litmus test for both of us. Whoever can handle the pressure, will have the last laugh tomorrow”, Floyd Pinto was quoted by I-League Media.
The occasion will be graced by the presence of Aroop Biswas, Minister of Sports, Govt. of West Bengal and Chuni Goswami, Ex-India national team captain and Padma Shri awardee. Subrata Dutta, Vice President, All India Football Federation, Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League and Dr. Rathin Chakraborty, Mayor, Howrah will also be present for the final.
(Report & Photo courtesy I-League Media)