East Bengal 2-0 Mumbai FC

[Scorer: Nabin Hela – 40’, 59’]

The eagerly anticipated final round of Under-19 I-League kicked off here at Kolkata with the four zonal champions fighting it out for the ultimate glory. In the inaugural match of the main event East Zone Champions and hot favorite East Bengal took on West Zone winners Mumbai FC in a thrilling battle. The Red-&-Gold coach Tarun Dey fielded a strong side comprising of players like Jayanta Paul and Saikat Saha Roy, who have already donned the senior team’s jerseys; while Mumbai FC coach Naushad Musha deployed the same set of players who played some sublime brand of football to stun favorites Pune FC in the West Zone preliminary round to book their berth in the main event.

East Bengal went in with an attacking 4-3-1-2 formation and pressed for an early lead right from the word go. Mumbai FC took a rather calculated approach and tried to slow things down by playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation with 2 defensive midfielders. East Bengal dominated the early proceedings and created a number of goal scoring opportunities, but failed to find the back of the net. A wet surface and muddy outfield also affected the rhythm of the players.

Nabin Hela – talent personified

The dead-lock was finally broken with just about five minutes remaining on the clock for the half time whistle when Nabin Hela recreated the magic of his idol Mehtab Hussain to find the back of the visitors’ net with a spectacular 25 yards pile driver. The goal woke up Mumbai FC from their prolonged slumber and they showed lot more attacking intent in the remaining period before half time. East Bengal were deservedly leading by one goal to nil at the lemon break.

A couple of tactical changes by Naushad Musha during the break helped Mumbai FC to start the second half proceedings brightly. However the Maharashtra colts found Saikat Saha Roy-led East Bengal defense nearly impossible to crack. East Bengal then managed to double their lead around the hour mark courtesy of another Nabin Hela strike. The six-feet tall attacking midfielder made full use of his height to complete his brace with a perfectly timed header from a flag kick in the 59th minute. It was more of a formality from there on as East Bengal kept the possession of the ball and threatened to increase their lead for the remaining half-an-hour’s play. In the end it was a well deserved 2-0 win for the Red-&-Gold brigade. Nabin Hela was adjudicated as the man of the match.

JCT Academy 2-0 Churchill Brothers

[Scorer: Gur Iqbal 38’, Taran Taneja 73′]

Leaving behind the disappointment of their management’s decision to disband the senior squad, JCT Academy’s youngsters showcased a superior display of talent to outsmart the Goan giants Churchill Brothers by a 2-0 margin. Gur Iqbal Singh drew the first blood for the Phagwara based club in the 38th and went for the breather with a 1-0 lead. The JCT domination continued in the second half as well as Taran Taneja doubled their lead in the 73rd minute of the match. Although Churchill Brothers squad consisted of a number of players from the Goa state under-19 team, they failed to match the spirited JCT.

The determination was evident in the eyes of JCT colts who promised their coach Jagir Singh to win the U-19 I-League title in a desperate bid to convince the owners not to disband their senior team. In the post match press conference JCT Academy coach Jagir Singh stated that a lot depends on his boys performance in this competition as all the academy players and coaches are planning to meet Sameer Thapar after winning the crown. Top JCT official Rajkamal Singh told the reporters that although JCT will continue its youth development program, the youngsters believe that they can impress their boss by clinching the coveted crown and make him reconsider his decision to shut down the senior team.

Next Round of Matches:

23/06/2011 – East Bengal vs Churchill Brothers (East Bengal ground)

23/06/2011 – JCT Academy vs Mumbai FC (Mohammedan Sporting ground)