The qualifiers of U-15 Youth League (Maharashtra Zone) concluded on Wednesday evening when India Rush Steadfast FA faced Indian Football Academy (IFA) and MSSA played Football School of India (FSI) at Cooperage Stadium in Maharashtra Group B.
In what turned out to be a closely-contested match, both the games ended in an identical 2-2 draw. As the qualifiers concluded, a total of five teams qualified from two groups (Maharashtra A and Maharashtra B), Two top teams from both the Groups and one best 3rd placed team.
India Rush Steadfast FA 2-2 Indian Football Academy (IFA)
Right from the beginning, both the outfit approached an aggressive way to counter each other. Indian Football Academy had a brilliant first-half as they looked composed and a bit sharper than their counterpart. Dhanesh Balasubramanian and Shlok Pabale looked lethal in front of goal with quick inter-changing between them.
The deadlock was broken on the stroke of half-time when a curling effort by Dhanesh from right flank hit the underside of the post and crossed the line which opened the scoring. IFA continued their fine form in the second-half when Shlok scored a thunderous goal to double IFA’s lead.
India Rush introduce striker Aman Khanna minutes after conceding the second-goal which eventually changed the game in Rush’s favour. In the 69th minute, IFA’s goalkeeper Aman Ansari parried a free-kick which fell into Aman’s path, the striker comfortably placed his effort in the back of the net to cut short the deficit.
Five minutes later, a delightful ball met an onrushing Aman who brilliantly lobbed over the goalkeeper to level the score in a spectacular fashion. The super sub salvaged an important point for Rush Soccer as they finished their qualifiers with 4 points in three games, whereas, IFA finished as the 3rd best team.
MSSA 2-2 Football School of India (FSI)
The second and final match of the day was reminiscent of the earlier match. MSSA who had already bowed out of the campaign produced a superb performance against an already qualified FSI side. Ruben D’Souza, Floyd D’Souza and Nihal Dudwadkar had an impressive game for MSSA, whereas, Karan Prajapati and Aman Sayyed stood out as FSI’s best performers.
After a positive start, MSSA took the lead early in the match when Nihal Dudwadkar converted from the spot but Group leaders FSI responded quite brilliantly and that too a minute after conceding the goal. Defender Aman Sayyed scored a bullet header to level the score from a delightful free-kick.
In the second-half, it was all about MSSA Ruben’s resolute defence, Floyd’s brilliance in midfield and Nihal’s finishing upfront. MSSA restored the parity in the 59th minute when Nihal scored a sublime left-footed goal. Just when MSSA were cruising towards their first win, Karan Prajapati scored a spectacular lob goal, just like Aman Khanna in the previous game, to level the score in the last kick of the match.
FSI finished as the Group leaders with seven points, whereas, MSSA finished their campaign with a well earned point.