GOA: Minerva Academy FC U-15 side became the Champions of India in the U-15 Youth League after beating Royal Wahingdoh 4-3 in penalties at Duler Stadium in Goa today.
Phrangki Buam gave Royals the lead in the 77th minute which was cancelled out within 2 minutes by Minerva’s Moirangthem Givson Singh. Both sides could not break the deadlock in regulation time as the match had to be finally decided by the penalty shootout. Prasan Chhetri stepped up and made no mistake in converting the winning penalty for The Pride of Punjab.
India U-17 coach Nicolai Adam while Kushal Das, General Secretary of All India Football Federation and Sunando Dhar, CEO of I-League were present to witness the thrilling finale.
The nerve wrecking match started on equal terms with both the sides attacking and looking to score first, to put pressure on the opponents. Both sides looked for the elusive first goal as the match was played at a frantic pace followed by some end to end football.
Royal Wahingdoh got the first sniff on goal at the 13th minute when Phrangki ‘s low free-kick was met by Thongram Singh with a diving header which missed the target by a whisker. The Royals continued their flurry of attacks and almost looked certain to score the initial goal in the 26th minute but were denied by the heroics of the Minerva custodian, Jaskarenvir Singh.
Minerva had a chance to take the lead in the 40th minute when forward Shubham Sarangi managed to exquisitely nutmeg Royal’s Rakesh Singh before hitting the crossbar from outside the box.
The scoreline read 0-0 at half time.
Minerva came out with all guns blazing in the second half as the Royals were happy to weather the storm. Minerva attacker Givson Singh almost scored from a long ranger but his effort ricocheted off the cross bar.
Royal Wahingdoh finally broke the deadlock in the 77th minute when Phrangki’s spectacular long ranger found the back of the net.
Minerva boys issued an immediate response and equalized within two minutes. Givson tried his luck from long range with an audacious curling long range effort which beat Royal’s custodian Kevinson all ends up, thus making it 1-1.
None of the teams could find a winning goal in 90 minutes of regulation time as the match went into extra time. Both teams looked to play safe in extra time as the pressure mounted on the young lads.
The scoreline remained unchanged after extra time and the finale had to be decided on penalties. Wahingdoh’s wonderkid Phrangki however missed the first spot-kick of the shootout while Hmingsang Zuala hit the crossbar when the score was tied at 3-3. Prasan Chhetri held his nerve to score the winning penalty as the Minerva Team erupted in joy.