Government Model High School from Chandigarh and NCC Directorate from Odisha ensured that one of the two will figure in the final of the Sub-Junior Boys (U-14) 57th Subroto Cup International Football Tournament, to be played, here next Thursday..
With their consistent performance during the league stages as well as in the quarterfinals played today at the Dr. Ambedkar Stadium to secure their semifinal places. In the first match, Chandigarh out-played Government Middle School from Kolasib (Mizoram) 4-2 while in the second NCC boys scored a facile but convincing 1-0 victory over Malaysia’s National Football Development Programme (NFDP) team.
The winners of today’s quarterfinals will meet in the second semifinals, to be played on Tuesday, after two days of well-deserved rest. In the first outing, the two foreign outfits—teams from Afghanistan and Bangladesh—will have a slugfest for superiority.
The Government Model School boys have had very a fruitful campaign, scoring authoritative wins over their rivals so far. And there was hardly any difference in the way they approached today’s knockout game against the boys from Mizoram.
Believing in the dictum of attack is the best form of defense, the Chandigarh boys made deep raids troubling the defense of Mizoram and it paid dividends sooner than later as in the eighth minute Taison dodged past two defenders to slot in the first goal. But soon after, Mizoram plugged in the holes and gave some difficult time for their opponents. Attacking relentlessly, the Mizoram team managed to find the equalizer through their reliable striker Abraham who hit the net eight minutes later.
With teams retiring for a break, Mizoram must have felt happy to have done reasonable well to stop Chandigarh and, at the same time, go even in the first half.
But soon after change of ends, their fortunes dipped and Satvir fired in from close range which brooked no challenge from Mizoram goalkeeper. Even as Mizoram were musing over what to do next came a Taison scorcher after four minutes and when Balraj hit the target in the 45th minute Mizoram boys already seemed resigned to the fate. However, as a parting consolation, Abraham added one more to his personal tally in the closing stages of the match which must have put the team in somewhat a better frame of mind.
In contrast, the second quarterfinal was docile and one wondered what happened to the Malaysian boys who were known for attacking right from the start. It seemed from the body language of the Odisha boys that they had really done their homework as they had a four-man wall protecting their citadel. The Malaysians found it hard to pierce through.
No doubt, this must have upset the NFDP team plans but what worked in favor of NCC Directorate was how also counter-attacked when opportunities presented. It was in one such moment that Samir Kirketta found the target with a precise placing after he got a good pass from centre in the 14th minute.
After having struck once, the Odisha boys did well to guard their line and did not allow the Malaysians to function from the flanks as they are known to have done against all their rivals so far.