IFA Shield: Pune beat Bagan to claim title on tournament debut


KOLKATA: FC Pune City created history as they claimed title in their U-19 IFA Shield debut after beating Mohun Bagan 3-0 in the final on Sunday.

A brace from Gani Ahmmed Nigam and the other from Balkar Singh was all FC Pune City needed to confirm their status as the champions at Mohun Bagan Ground.

The feat by FC Pune City meant Mohun Bagan will have to wait for another year to get their hands on a major youth trophy.

Seeking to avenge the 1-0 loss in group stage, it was Mohun Bagan who got off well making their intent clear as early as the 7th minute. However, FC Pune City goalkeeper Anuj Kumar proved up to the task denying Deepak Tangri in a one-on-one situation.

Mohun Bagan had the better of possession and continued to threaten the FC Pune City back-line, who gained their feet as the match progressed.

FC Pune City recovered from the promising start of the home side, cheered on by an ecstatic crowd, and responded in the 19th minute when a corner by Mohammed Yasir was met by Gaurav Bora, whose header went inches above the crossbar with the Mohun Bagan defense caught ball watching.

Seven minutes later, indecisiveness on the part of Mohun Bagan keeper Sanjay Bhattacharya almost cost his side but he could afford a normal breathe after a Asish Rai header missed target narrowly after Wungngayam Muirang had crossed to him.

FC Pune City goalkeeper Anuj was to his side’s rescue saving Anirban Manna’s goal-bound shot after Deepak had headed his way inside the FC Pune City penalty area, three minutes before the break.

Mohun Bagan resumed stronger and aided by their swift passing game. In the 46th minute and five minutes later, Mohun Bagan had two chances to score but Arka Dey and Deepak failed to convert from close range.

Though Mohun Bagan had the upper hand in terms of possession but it was FC Pune City who looked purposeful upfront and broke the deadlock in the 54th minute when Gani tapped in a Nijwm Muchahary pass for the opener and silenced the deafening crowd.

Six minutes later, FC Pune City solidified their lead as Gani converted a penalty, which was awarded after Gaurav was brought down inside the box by Dangmei Gaipuilan.

Balkar, then, capped the afternoon by registering his name on the scoresheet in the 84th minute, finishing off a solo move with a shot past Sanjay and take the game beyond Mohun Bagan.

“The match was 50-50 and my players did very well to win. I congratulate my team for a good job,” FC Pune City’s Spanish coach Roger Lamesa Grau said once THIF-LIVE.com caught up with him.

“It was a satisfactory result and we worked very hard for it. We have come a long way but I won’t take anything away from Mohun Bagan. They showed how good they are even when they were down by three goals,” he added.

Incidentally, the final was the last match for the Spaniard at helm of FC Pune City youth setup.

By Debabrata Majumder

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