KOLKATA: It’s rare for a Mohammedan Sporting Club team to play for the opportunity to win a trophy, but the 127-year-old club will have just that opportunity on Tuesday when they take on Minerva Punjab FC to crown champions in the inaugural U-13 Youth League.
The two sides will clash in the final of the competition to be played at the Vidyasagar Stadium in Barasat, kick-off at 5:00 pm.
Having stunned SAI East Zone 2-0 in the semifinal, the Young Panthers will need to pull off an even greater shock in order to deny the Minervans the trophy, who grounded high-flying Sudeva FC 5-0 to book their place in the finale.
Mohammedan SC like to play counter-attacking football, as they soak up pressure for long periods before launching the ball forward to their speedy attackers upfront. This especially suits midfield mainstay Mohammed Zeedan to a tee, as well as Sujay Budhuk and Nabakumar Santra, all of who use their pace to occupy space behind opponents. It hasn’t been pretty to watch but it has been an effective strategy bringing out the best in their attacking trio even when the performances look disjointed.
We can discuss about Mohmmedan SC’s speed on offense all day long, but the unity and discipline of their backline is somewhat frightening. Led by Irfan Mondal, Wasid Ali, Aftab Ali and Anisur Rahaman, the Young Panthers backline should give Minerva problems throughout the match.
“Tomorrow’s game is extremely important because we want to win and crown our efforts. It will be premature to say how we would approach the match but I can say it will be a good game. Everything is possible on the field and if it needs us to play our best football in the tournament we will.”
Mohammedan SC Head Coach Ananta Kumar Ghosh said.
“We respect Minerva because they are good that is why they made it to the final but we have a good group of players which is ready to get us the win. We have good players with the good qualities and we have to show that in the final. Despite the Minerva team being strong we have what it takes to win and keep the throphy here.”
“We all know that our senior team is struggling to produce results in the recent past so if we can win this one then it will be huge for our fans. We want to do it for them,” added Ghosh.
On the other hand, Minerva’s dominance in the tournament has been unmatched, outscoring opponents by a 19-1 margin. The Anthony Andrews-coached side has based their game on a solid defence that haven’t conceded since their final round opener against BBFS. With only one goal conceded, the Minervas have U-13 Youth League’s meanest defence and relied on the brilliance of Tongbram Maheron Singh up front to make it to the final.
Though Maheron has deservedly taken many of the plaudits in the tournament, Longjam Swami Singh and Himanshu Jangra have often been just as important to many of Minerva’s winning efforts.
The big question is will Minerva try to press the pace right from the start, or sit back looking to capitalize on any Mohammedan SC mistakes. It will be also interesting to see how Minerva will deploy in the defensive half to counter Mohammedan SC’s speed on the counter, which gave SAI fits all night when the Young Panthers stunned them on Sunday night. With all said and done the game will most likely come down to who can control the midfield.