Harjinder Singh watched from the sidelines,eagerly waiting for the clock to tick towards the end. Even though he waited for the referee to blow the final whistle,he savoured the performance that his wards produced on the pitch. And even though the scoreline was not impressive,the Chandigarh Football Academy players came up with a solid performance as they defeated Mahilpur Football Academy 2-0 in a semi-final encounter to enter the final of the 11th Administrator’s Challenge Cup All India Football Tournament at the Sector 17 Football Stadium on Saturday.
For a team that has lost most of its members in the playing XI- either to other clubs or injuries,it was an impressive performance from them as they shed the underdog tag despite being the defending champions. In the absence of players who were expected to score goals for the Chandigarh outfit,Harsharan Khabra rose to the occasion and netted a brace to guide his team to victory.
Enjoying the majority of the possession,the CFA players maneuvered their moves and kept an upper hand over the Mahilpur Academy players. Despite some good opportunities,the Chandigarh team failed to open the account as Mahilpur defenders made some good tackles to keep the CFA forwards at bay.
Then,in the 36th minute,midfielder Mohit,sensing space in the opposition half,sent an exquisite through pass to Jatinder who kicked the ball into the opposition box where Harsharan made no mistake in putting it into the net. After taking the lead,the CFA lads took full control of the proceedings and framed some good moves to torment the Mahilpur defenders.
Harsharan was once again on target as he collected a superb pass from Mobasher and hit it past the Mahilpur keeper to double the team’s lead.
Now Chandigarh Football Academy will face AIFF Regional Academy,Navi Mumbai,who are also one of the favourites,in the final. In the semi-final encounter,the AIFF Regional Academy team overcame a spirited Mohun Bagan team 2-1. Both the teams began the match on an attacking note but they couldn’t break the deadlock till the 38th minute of the game. Rakesh Oram had the chance to put AIFF team ahead in the 18th minute when he nicely connected the penetrative cross from left winger Suman Sarkar and fired a powerful grounder but it ricochet after hitting the bar.
Finally,in the 38th minute,Amanrandu Chakraborty brilliantly converted a long cross from left winger Ch Kenson Metai to put Mohun Bagan ahead.
After the breather,the AIFF team piled pressure on Mohun Bagan players and restored parity in the 54th minute. Rakesh Oram scored with a header off Suman Sarkar’s corner. Bolstered with the goal,the AIFF team looked for the winning goal. Suman Sarkar was denied from scoring by the Bagan’s keeper in the 55th minute. The match was headed towards extra time when Rakesh Oram scored his second goal of the game to put the AIFF team in the final.