Fatima XI (white) outplayed a wasteful Pune Police team.(HT Photo)
Fatima XI (white) outplayed a wasteful Pune Police team.(HT Photo)

Teg Bahadur football: 10-men Fatima XI pip Pune Police

HT, Pune | By Oumar Aga
UPDATED ON NOV 25, 2019 03:44 PM IST

PUNE Fatima XI, who are a super division side in Pune District Football Association’s (PDFA) Pune Football League, edged past a wasteful Pune Police in the senior category opener of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Football Tournament 2019 at the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) Ground on Sunday.

Fatima XI reached the venue with just eleven players who eventually started the match. In the second half, due to an injury, Fatima were forced to play the remainder of the game with 10. While Pune Police were dominating the game, Fatima XI were gifted a penalty in the second half, which led to the only goal of the match.

Fatima XI were without substitutes as the remainder of their squad was playing another tournament elsewhere in Pune. The team also deployed one of their goalkeepers as a left-back. The experienced team players are expected to play in second knock-out tie of the tournament later this week.

Cagey half

The tempo of the clash between two top sides was surprisingly low. The game got off to a very slow and cagey start. Pune Police were the first ones to apply some pressure as they swarmed forward. A silly mistake committed by Fatima XI forced their keeper, Gurpreet, to handle the ball after a back pass, and Pune Police had the first real opportunity in the game from an indirect free kick inside the box. However, they could not capitalise on the opportunity striker Pravin played it short to Amar, who just smashed his effort into a defender.

Pune Police had a few more chances, but were let down by their passing in the final third. The front three of Pune Police were unable to read each other’s game and ended up playing wayward passes which helped Fatima build-up for an attack. Police striker Yogesh dribbled into the Fatima box on two occasions, but the defence stood their ground and the striker failed to inflict any kind of damage on his opponents.

A controversial moment saw Fatima XI players appeal for a handball inside the box. Pune Police defender Taufiq raised his hand to appeal for an offside against Fatima and the ball ended up bouncing off his hand. The referee, however, did not spot anything wrong and asked the players to play on, leaving Fatima XI strikers enraged after the incident. On the counter, Pune Police striker, Shrikant, found himself in a one-on-one situation with the keeper as the offside flag stayed down. The striker could not place his shot, as the keeper got his hand to it, to deny Pune Police the opening goal at the end of the first half.

Man down

In the final stages of the first half, Fatima XI’s Firdoz suffered an injury due to which he was unable to carry on. Playing a solid back four which was strong throughout the game, Fatima XI played with three midfielders and two strikers. Pune Police were having a tough time breaking the Fatima defence down.

Whenever the Police got through the defence, the shots at goal were tame or aimed directly at the keeper, resulting in extremely easy saves. There were shouts for hand-ball yet again, this time against Fatima XI, and the referee awarded Pune Police a free-kick on the edge of the Fatima XI box. The set-piece did not lead to anything but a corner after Pravin struck the Fatima wall with his effort.

As Pune Police looked to get off the mark against a side which was a man down, they left a gap in defence which was almost exploited by Fatima XI’s winger, Aniket Pawar. Pawar was facing his marker on the right flank, while striker Mohit made a brilliant, unmarked run through the middle, shouting for a through ball. Pawar, however, hesitated at the crucial moment and was eventually stalled and muscled off the ball by his marker.

Opening goal

Shortly after missing a glorious opportunity to play his teammate through on goal, Pawar was involved in yet another attacking move. This time, the winger cut inside from the right flank and saw his strike come off the arm of Pune Police’s Amar. The referee, who had denied Fatima XI a penalty in the first half, immediately pointed to the spot. Amar, who was responsible for the spot-kick, took his spot between the sticks as a goalkeeper, but failed to save Pawar’s powerful penalty.

After slotting the ball in the bottom-left corner from the spot, Fatima XI were on the attack. Pune Police were shaken, fatigued and panicky as they still tried to push forward in the desperate need of an equaliser.

In the final minute of the game, Fatima XI had a magnificent chance to add another goal to their tally as the ball was lobbed towards the Pune Police penalty area, and the keeper came rushing out in an effort to clear it away from danger. However, the race to reach the ball was won by Fatima striker Mohit. Mohit went round the keeper, but took too much time on the ball. His effort was initially blocked by defender Vaibhav first and then a superb tackle from Amar finally dispossessed the striker.

From the bench

“Many of our players were playing in another tournament in the city and that is why we only had eleven players. But still we managed to bag a win against a strong Pune Police side, so that is good result. I’ve been playing at this club for over ten years now and it is great to see the blend of youth and experience we have. Hopefully, we will get our experienced players back for the next game and then the team will perform even better.”

- Joaquim Rodrigues, vice-captain, Fatima XI.

“We have played as a team after eight months and we did not get to practice a lot. The team is a little out of sync because of that, and that was the biggest reason for the loss. We were clearly not in our zone, because we could not defeat a side which was down to ten men. We wasted a lot of opportunities, but there is no point talking about it now. The team has to train more and train hard, and bounce back in the next tournament.”

- Abuzar Shaikh, captain, Pune Police.

Results - Match day 5

Junior Category: SKF 3 (Abhishek Pal x3) (5) bt Matthew FA 3 (Siddhant Vardhan x2, Advait Shinde) (3) on penalties

Infants FC 1 (Pramod Atre) bt DMR FC 0

Senior Category: Fatima XI 1 (Aniket Pawar pen) bt Pune Police 0

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