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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Guru Teg Bahadur football: Game of Goal skipper-turned-keeper saves penalty to win title

Game of Goal FC, who had scored 13 goals in their last two matches, started the game with an attacking 4-3-3 line-up

pune Updated: Dec 02, 2019 16:46 IST
Oumar Aga
Oumar Aga
Hindustan Times, Pune
GOG (dark blue) and CMS Falcons (ligh blue) contested a tight final that was decided by a penalty shootout in the end.
GOG (dark blue) and CMS Falcons (ligh blue) contested a tight final that was decided by a penalty shootout in the end.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Former Pune FC winger and Game of Goal FC (GOG) skipper, Paresh Shivalkar, turned out to be the hero in the penalty shoot-out against CMS Falcon, in the final of the Guru Tegh Bahadur football tournament played at the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) ground on Sunday.

Bhunesh Pillay gave GOG the lead in the 20th minute of the game, but Falcons retaliated with a 34th minute strike from Aman Sen. The score-line stayed the same till the final whistle. In the penalty shoot-out, 16 penalties were taken as the first save of the shoot-out came when Shivalkar replaced GOG goalkeeper, Shivam Pednekar, and denied Falcons’ keeper Pratik Gurung.

Game of Goal FC, who had scored 13 goals in their last two matches, started the game with an attacking 4-3-3 line-up. Falcons were hit by waves of early attacks from GOG strikers Prakash Thorat, Bhunesh Pillay and Kartik Raju. After the 10-minute mark, Falcons finally managed to launch an attack and came perilously close to scoring the opening goal of the game through Rohil Bhokare. Bhokare, who scored a brilliant free-kick in the semi-finals, tried to bend the set-piece into the top right corner. However, his effort was valiantly saved by Shivam Pednekar.

After recovering from a nervy moment, GOG were on the attack again. After two consecutive shots on goal, Shivalkar came very close to breaking the deadlock. Shivalkar received a scruffy ball from the left flank, which he was unable to control, and ended up slicing his shot wide of goal. The Falcons defence was unsettled with GOG’s 3-man attack and also had to stay vigilant as wingers Pillay and Raju were constantly switching flanks in an effort to lose their markers. The swap worked in the 20th minute when Pillay tore down the right flank, dribbling past the defender and cut inside before curling a beautiful left-footed strike into the far post to give GOG the lead.

Shortly after the opening goal, Falcons started attacking more frequently. Another glorious opportunity fell to Aman Sen, who guided his ball towards goal from a corner, but yet again the GOG keeper stepped up and produced a brilliant save to keep the ball out. In the dying minutes of the first half, Falcons won a corner which was defended successfully, but the ball came bouncing back to the right flank to Brendon Walsh. Walsh took the ball on to his favoured right foot and swerved the ball in the crowded penalty area. Amidst the chaos, Sen finally got his header right, as he headed in the equaliser from close range to restore parity.

Second half

In the second half, GOG were the first to attack and almost scored via Shivalkar, who saw his long-range effort turned over the bar by Pratik Gurang. Falcons prowled forward from the flanks as the ball eventually came to striker Anand Vinod. The ball bounced awkwardly in front of Vinod and the striker sliced his effort well wide of goal. The game turned from a one-sided contest to an end-to-end encounter as both teams launched attacks and counter-attacks. Building-up from a counter-attack, Shivalkar came agonisingly close to scoring a screamer, but his effort skimmed the left post and rolled out of play.

Midway through the second half, GOG’s tempo dropped and Falcons capitalised the opportunity by launching a barrage of attacks on the GOG goal. For the first time in the tournament, GOG looked shaky and complacent as their defensive errors almost led to Falcons’ goals. Falcons’ substitute, Abhishek Bochare, fluffed his lines when the ball came to him at the far post, one yard from goal and the winger put it wide. However, the linesman flagged Bochare for an offside. Harshad Lunawat was the next player to attack for Falcons. The full-back managed to get his head on the ball, from a corner, but it went soaring over the bar.

Lunawat came close again, shortly after his earlier miss, and managed to keep his shot on target this time, only to see his effort denied by another magnificent save from keeper Pedneker. In the last ten minutes of the game, Falcons launched most of the attacks and dominated ball possession. However, they were kept at bay by the GOG defence and mainly by their goalkeeper, who produced a series of amazing saves to keep the score levelled at 1-1. The final whistle eventually blew, taking the game into a lengthy penalty-shootout which required 16 penalties. GOG ended up winning the game 8-7 on penalties.

After the game

“Falcons were really good and they played really well. Two of our key players, Prakash Thorat and Shrikant Molangiri, were injured, due to which we struggled in midfield and upfront. Now, we want to shift our attention towards the PDFA League where we aim to get ourselves promoted into the Super Division. It feels good to win in a category which made us face Super Division sides and to emerge as champions is the best possible result for us, so I am very happy for the team.”

- Paresh Shivalkar, captain, Game of Goals FC.

SKF lift women’s title as Strikers stun Infants in the junior’s final.

SKF managed to keep another clean-sheet in the tournament as they lifted the title after a 1-0 victory over Sports Excel FC Girls. Striker Raheen Shaikh who finished as the top-scorer of the women’s category with five goals in her kitty, scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot. Shaikh was brought down in the box in the second half of the game, just when Sports Excel were starting to be a tad menacing on attack. Shaikh kept her composure as she faced experienced goalkeeper, Naomi Vase, but managed to slot her effort into the bottom left corner of the goal.

Sports Excel were wasteful in the final third as they could not unleash shots which troubled the SKF keeper. Winger Prachi Gule’s pace and ball control caused a fair bit of problems for SKF, but the attacks were eventually thwarted by the SKF defence. Khushi Kavatekar seemed solid in defence and did not allow Shaikh any room to get comfortable for a shot. SKF full-back, Sanjana Gupta, who caused a lot of trouble for teams in the previous encounters, had a quiet game as her runs were stopped midway by the Sports Excel defence. In the end, SKF held on to their one-goal lead and were crowned the champions.

In the junior category final, Strikers FC managed to score three past Infants Strikers shot themselves into the lead at the stroke of half-time when Subodh Lama scored from a brilliant free-kick which was awarded between the penalty area and the half-line. Lama’s effort hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced into the goal, giving Strikers the crucial lead. Nine minutes into the second half, Infants were left fuming as they let Venkant Kondamuri slip past their defence and slot in the second goal of the day.

Lama doubled his tally on the day as he scored Strikers’ last goal of the match, which was set up by Vishal Kumar. Kumar crossed the ball in from the right flank as it bounced off a few heads and fell to Lama. From five yards out, Lama did not miss the target and ended all hopes of an Infants come-back. Panicky Infants tried to pull one back, but the final pass was lacking. The absence of cohesion in the final ten minutes disallowed Infants a consolation goal as Strikers FC lifted the junior category trophy.

After the game

“I am very happy, but we still still missed a lot of chances. It is always good to win a trophy, but till we do not improve our game play, I will not be satisfied. We have to focus on the next tournament now and hopefully we will keep improving and keep winning more trophies in the future.”

- Raheen Shaikh, striker, SKF.

“I am sad that the tournament is over, but happy that we ended it with a trophy. Playing in this tournament has been a fantastic experience for me, personally, and for the team. It has also helped us get back into the game before the PDFA League begins. Now we have to shift our attention to that league.”

- Subodh Lama, winger, Strikers FC.

Results - Finals

Women: SKF 1 (Raheen Shaikh 32’ pen) bt Sports Excel 0

Juniors: Strikers FC 3 (Subodh Lama 41’ & 56’, Venkant Kondamuri 49’) bt Infants 0

Seniors: Game of Goal FC 1 (Bhunesh Pillay 20’) (8) bt CMS Falcon 1 (Aman Sen 34’) (7) on penalties