Vincent’s crowned ZP U-17 football champs post playing 2 matches in 2 hrs
St Vincent’s High School beat JN Petit 3-1 in the semifinals and then went on to win 5-4 on penalties against Army Public School in the final of the Zilla Parishad Under-17 Football Tournament at the Dobarwadi ground on Monday.
Initially, the Zilla Parishad scheduled the final on Tuesday, October 1, but after receiving a late notification about the district divisional under-17 meet commencing on Tuesday, they were forced to cut the under-17 tournament short by a single day.
Both finalists had to bear the brunt of this decision as Vincent’s had to play two matches with a break of only an hour between the games, while the players of Army Public School found out they have to play a final, hours before the match.
While both the teams had to cope with the sudden change in circumstances, Vincent’s kept their cool in both their games to maintain their prolific footballing record in Pune. Army Public and Vincent’s faced-off in the final of the Zilla Parishad U-17 Football Tournament last year as well, with the latter winning in that fixture too.
After eliminating JN Petit in the semifinal, a fatigued Vincent’s side was given a run for their money in the final. The game eventually ended 0-0 and it took penalties to decide the outcome.
Despite playing with tired legs, Vincent’s were seen attacking throughout the game, but their efforts were well defended by the Army Public defence.
Vincent’s almost took a lead from the first corner they won, as Prajwal Patne swung the ball into the box and Fazal Shaikh headed the ball towards goal, but his effort flew over the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Shortly after that incident, Army Public won a free kick at the edge of the box. Ritik Roy took the set-piece, but even his strike failed to dip and went off-target. Vincent’s were menacing down the right flank due to the quick and tricky Karan Madake, who managed to dribble past his marker on several occasions, but his crosses were dealt with every time.
Towards the end of the first half, Vincent’s attacker Aimar Adam had a couple of opportunities to put give his side the lead, but his first attempt was calmly blocked by Army Public’s center-back Siddharth Moye. On his second attempt, he tried to reach a long-ball played towards him from the midfield, and ended up making no contact with the ball, but colliding with Army Public goalkeeper, Deepanshu Dhunkar.
Nothing changed after the break as Vincent’s were still the attacking side while Army Public seemed content with parking the bus. Aimar Adam and second half substitute Sumanyu Hone scuffed their chances after entering the box from the left flank and shooting wide of goal. Army Public looked very confident in defence as Tanay Kadam and Arjun Singh put an end to several Vincent’s attacks.
In a rare Army Public attack, Ritik Roy dribbled past his opposite number, Dilraj Rajpal, and whipped in a ball towards his teammate and striker Arijit Sharma, but a brilliant defensive header from Parth Raut ensured that the game did not sway in favour of Army Public.
Midway through the second-half, Army Public finally managed to get a shot on target. After Vincent’s were seen shouting and appealing for a hand-ball against an Army Public player, the referee saw nothing wrong and signaled the players to play on, as the ball was with Arijit Sharma at the edge of the box.
His initial strike ricocheted off Om Ohod, and fell to Saksham Tiwari, but Tiwari’s effort was straight at the keeper.
In the final minutes of the game, Vincent’s won a free kick on the right edge of the box, which was defended well, but the ball fell to Karan Madake, who was left unmarked on the edge of the box, right in front of goal. Madake unleashed a venomous strike, but his effort blitzed past the post.
On the counter attack, Army Public almost scored the golden goal, as Arijit Sharma struck a low shot which picked up a deflection and went past the keeper, but before another Army Public player could tap it in, defender Parth Raut put a boot through the ball and cleared it.
It was nervy for Army Public in the final minute of the match as Vincent’s won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, again. This time it was right in front of goal, but Aimar Adam could not capitalise on this opportunity as he struck the Army Public wall as the full time whistle blew with the score still 0-0.
Penalties... hit and miss affair
- The game remained goalless even after the first two penalties were taken, as Army Public’s Arijit Sharma’s effort was saved by the keeper and Vincent’s skipper, Lakshay Harpalani hit his spot-kick straight at the keeper.
-The deadlock was finally broken after Ritik Roy gave Army Public the lead, after he slotted his shot into the bottom right corner of the goal. Aimar Adam restored parity after the Vincent’s striker buried his strike into the bottom left corner.
- Siddharth Moye of Army Public failed to convert from the spot as his effort hit the underside of the crossbar and landed in front of the goal line. Vincent’s had a chance to take a crucial lead in the shoot-out but they faltered again as Prajwal Patne’s effort was placed wide.
- Vikas Kharat placed his effort nicely into the bottom right corner of the goal, which was followed by another Vincent’s miss through Mithil Navlakha, and suddenly Army Public had the advantage.
- The joy was short-lived as goalkeeper Deepanshu Dhunkar struck his shot straight at his opposite number which resulted in an easy save. Vincent’s got back in the shoot-out through Parth Raut who kept his cool and placed the ball in the right side of the net.
- In sudden death, Saksham Tiwari and Tanay Kadam scored for Army Public, while Arjun Singh blasted his set-piece over the crossbar. Vincent’s did not get complacent and scored the next two penalties through Sumanyu Hone and Hitesh Yadav. Dilraj Rajpal then scored the final penalty of the game to give Vincent’s a well-deserved victory.
After the game
“They [Army Public School] played really well. They did have a small advantage, considering the fact that we had to play two games. Apart from that, we have trained with our boys throughout the summer vacation and that is why we have maintained the standard. We have received tremendous support from the management, my fellow coaches and the parents of these children.”
- Wilson Andrews, coach, St Vincent’s High School
“The players were a bit disturbed due to the sudden change, but then these things happen and we cannot help it. Despite that, the boys played really well. Unfortunately, we lost to them last year and last month in a local tournament and now here too, so we have to work on it. The boys do have potential and spirit to play the game and win.”
- Trilok Singh Thapa, coach, Army Public School, Ghorpadi
“We were hungry for a win, and that was our only aim. We were a little tired after playing the first match, but we were determined and despite the situation, we gave everything we had and I am very proud and happy. “
- Lakshay Harpalani, captain, St Vincent’s High School