THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Winning start for Chennaiyin FC U-18s in Hero Elite League final round

Chennaiyin FC U-18 players Joysana Singh, Aman Chetri, Vijay Thangavel and Kartik Nayyar. (Photo courtesy: Chennaiyin FC)
Chennaiyin FC U-18 players Joysana Singh, Aman Chetri, Vijay Thangavel and Kartik Nayyar. Photo courtesy: Chennaiyin FC

The Chennaiyin FC U-18s beat Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYS) 4-1 in their Group B opener of the Hero Elite League (U-18 Youth League) final round at the Don Bosco Ground in Goa today. Goals from Kartik Nayyar, Joysana Singh and a Vijay Thangavel brace handed CFC a win in the first game of their debut appearance in the final round, as Aman Chetri starred with three assists.

The CFC U-18s will aim to carry the winning momentum into their next Group B encounter when they take on defending Hero Elite League champions Shillong Lajong FC U-18s at the Nagoa Ground on Wednesday January 30 at 3 PM.

Defender Hendry Antonay led the CFC boys in their debut appearance in the final round of the competition in just their second year of participation, having won the Chennai zone with an unbeaten record of six wins and two draws. Both of CFC’s top scorers from the Chennai zone – Joysana Singh and Aman Chetri with eight and seven goals respectively, started on the wings. Cuddalore-born J. Jaya Ruban (3 goals) led the line alongside Bengaluru boy Vijay Thangavel (5 goals).

CFC got off to a flying start with Aman Chetri the creator. The Assamese winger’s surging run on the right saw him beat three defenders and square the ball to the onrushing Kartik Nayyar, who made no mistake in opening the scoring in the 11th minute.

Jaya Ruban then had a chance to make it 2-0 when he was put through on goal. However after rounding the keeper he couldn’t keep his balance and sent his effort wide.

RFYS came hard at CFC in search of the equalizer and created a couple of good chances, which also saw them hit the woodwork. Their goal eventually came midway through the first half through a strike from distance by Muhammed Nemil.

Bengaluru boy Vijay Thangavel had the opportunity to restore CFC’s lead immediately from the restart, but his header from a Harsh Bartwal cross went just wide.

The chances kept coming CFC’s way in an eventful first half. Jaya Ruban was again involved, this time missing a sitter from six yards out with the goal gaping. Few minutes later he was put through one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot lacked power and was straight at the latter.

Chennaiyin’s persistence paid off before half time though. Aman played a short corner to Harsh, whose inviting cross was headed into the back of the net by Joysana. The Manipuri winger continuing his rich scoring streak to notch his ninth goal in the Hero Elite League in as many appearances as CFC went into the break with a 2-1 lead.

The second half began on a scrappy note with both sides failing to create any clear cut chances. Jaya Ruban had another half-chance which he failed to make the most of in the final third, at the end of a good run. He was eventually replaced by Yunus Shaikh as Vellore boy Pradap Balashanmugam also came on for CFC goalscorer Kartik.

CFC then enjoyed a good spell and were rewarded with their third goal, when Vijay headed home from Aman corner’s in the 66th minute.

Chennaiyin kept the pressure on RFYS in search of a fourth. They won a series of corners and looked dangerous on the break. From one such counter attack, Joysana played Aman clean through on goal, but the latter took his shot early and sent it straight to the keeper.

CFC did make it 4-1 in the closing stages at the end of a superb team move. After a series of passes, Ajith played Aman through on goal, who did well to round the onrushing keeper and cross unselfishly to Vijay, who had the simple task of heading into an empty net. As CFC capped off a dominant display going forward, Aman registered a hat-trick of assists.

(Chennaiyin FC)