AIFF Academy registered their fourth straight win of the league…  

AIFF Elite Academy U18 edged out Salgaocar FC U18 as they registered a hard fought 1-0 win in the I-League U18 Goa Zone match played at Duler Stadium on Sunday.

With AIFF sitting on the top of the group winning their all matches till now, and Salgaocar losing the last match against SCG, it was important for the junior Greens to at least grab some points from this outing to be a contender for the second spot to qualify for the final round but Edmund Lalrindika goal from the spot dented their hopes.

AIFF were flying high with clean records in the previous matches as they have won two against Sporting Clube de Goa and recently trashed Dempo SC 8-0. Salgaocar has experienced mixed results with winning one, drawing one and lost 3-2 against Sporting in the last game.

Salgaocar coach Levino Pereira made only one change as Ribhav Sardesai found his name in the starting XI, replacing Salu Santos who was drafted to the bench. AIFF Academy coach Floyd Pinto made two changes to his side, bringing in forward Edmund in place of Naorem Singh who was suspended due to the direct red card in the last match. Sumit Rathi was the second change in the team.

The first 20 minutes were clearly dominated by AIFF and the team came out with numerous attacks on its opponents. In one of these, AIFF’s Harish Dhath nicely set-up a through pass in the box to Edmund but the striker’s shot was blocked by Salgaocar defender Flagan Rodrigues with keeper Nora Fernandes out of position. However, Salgaocar colts replied them with a quick counter attack, but in the final third, Saeesh Halarnkar’s weak shot was easily collected by AIFF keeper Aditya Patra.

Finally, after wasting so many chances, Academy boys scored from the penalty kick. In the process of clearing Sumit Rathi’s cross from the left flank, Jovan Dias handled the ball in the box to give away the penalty-kick to AIFF. Edmund steped forward and made no mistake to convert from the spot and opened the tally for his side.

After conceding a goal, Salgaocar regrouped and made three back to back attacks in the last few minutes of the first half. First, Selwyn Miranda saw his shot go wide by few inches. Next, Liston Colaco’s effort from the close was sky-high. Later, AIFF skipper Amal Das challenged Liston from the back on the top of the box. Referee Parmanand Mandrekar reacted with a Yellow card to the defender and awarded a free-kick. Liston’s effort from the same sailed over the crossbar.

On crossing over, Salgaocar came out stronger and tried hard to find the equaliser but the junior Greens were found lacking in the final third. Just after the resumption of play, Devendra Murgaokar almost scored from the edge of the box, his shot missing the target by a whisker. A few minutes later, Liston made an excellent solo run from the flank, dribbling past two defenders to enter the box but failed to direct his shot and the ball went into the waiting gloves of keeper Patra.

At the hour mark, AIFF were reduced to 10 men when their skipper once again recklessly challenged Liston at the centre line. Referee Parmanad quickly showed him the second yellow and gave him the marching orders.

In the dying minutes of the match, Salgaocar colts made two more attacks on the opponents but failed to come out with the result. in one–on-one situation with Liston, AIFF’s Namgyal made no mistake to clear the ball for a corner. From the resulting corner, Salgaocar had one more chance to put the team level but Flagan’s heavy touch sailed over the crossbar.

In the added time, AIFF shot-stopper made diving efforts to save Liston’s curling shot.

With this win, AIFF remained on top of the table with 12 points from 4 matches and became the first team to qualify from the Goa Zone. Salgaocar, on the other hand, have 4 points from the same number of matches and stand second in the table.