Minerva Punjab win Elite League
Beat FC Pune City 2-0 to claim U-18 national age group championship
09th February 2019, 03:02 Hrs
the goan I network
Minerva Punjab FC rode on second half strikes from Makan Wingle Chothe and Thoiba Singh to secure a comfortable 2-0 win over FC Pune City to clinch their maiden Elite League (U-18) at Don Bosco Oratory ground, Fatorda on Friday.
While Makan Chothe (59′) exploited a defensive lapse from FC Pune City for the opening goal, Thoiba Singh (67′) doubled the lead from a freekick to take the match. With this title, Minerva Punjab are the current holders of all the national championships -- the I-League, Sub-junior League (U-13 age group), Junior League (U-15 age group) and Elite League (U-18 age group).
It was the second half that produced the sparks after a scrappy affair by the Punjab outfit save the initial stages when the FC Pune City enjoyed more ball possession. Despite the conviction with which FC Pune City played, Minerva Punjab showed no signs of panic. FC Pune City had a good chance to break the deadlock when captain and attacking midfielder F Malsawmtluanga unleashed a stiff shot which was palmed away by the Minerva Punjab goalkeeper Devanshi Dabas and the ball reached striker Laldawngkima, who shot wide.
Attacking midfielder Lelsemba had a good game and kept the defenders on their toes throughout. The youngster made an impressive run from the middle but his resulting shot was too feeble to unsettle the Minerva goalkeeper in the 43rd minute. At the half-hour mark, Zothanpuia’s freekick was parried away by Devansh once again. Off the rebound, Nikhil Prabhu tried to poke it in but missed the target by a whisker.
Minerva Punjab FC came out a completely different side after the lemon break. The midfield which looked disjointed in the first half, started weaving nice patterns and that helped them to storm the FC Pune City citadel at regular intervals. Minerva went ahead in the 59th minute. On a long throw-in, Shahjahan lobbed it to an onrushing Chothe who outran two defenders to smash it home and put his team in the driver’s seat in the 59th minute. Eight minutes later, Thoiba nailed the final one in FC Pune City’s coffin from a superbly-executed freekick to stun the Pune lads completely.
Although they tried their best to break the Minerva resilience until the final whistle, FC Pune City’s efforts were staved off constantly by Minerva to clinch the silverware. Along with the coveted trophy, Minerva Punjab FC won a prize money of Rs 5 lakh whereas runners-up FC Pune City were handed a cheque of Rs 1.5 lakh. GFA President Churchill Alemao was the chief guest and gave away the prizes in the prsence of Sunando Dhar, I-League CEO; Savio Madeira, AIFF Technical Director, and VM Prabhudessai, SAG Executive Director.