Pune FC Under-15s top Maharashtra Zone; complete first ever unique double in India
Leaders Pune FC kept their focus clear, fought with purpose and didn’t let go the opportunity to seal the title at home as they overcame arch-rivals Mumbai FC 2-1 after coming from a goal down to emerge outright winners of the Maharashtra Zone in the Under-15 Youth League 2015-16 at the Pune FC Training Pitches in Mamurdi on Sunday.
Needing a point to emerge champions, Pune FC thought otherwise despite falling in arrears via a Clivert Demers’ (16th minute) goal, dominated the second half and won the game through a brace by Mozaffar Ali (61st & 74th minute).
While finishing the zonal phase undefeated, Pune FC also completed a unique double winning both the U18 I-League and U15 Youth League Zonal Phase, being the first team in India to achieve the feat.
After ten rounds, Pune FC took their tally to 28 points securing their ninth win of the campaign and fifth in a row to finish six points clear of second placed Mumbai FC (22 pts).
The game began with both sides battling out hard in the opening quarter. While Pune FC had a few close chances through Aakash Banerjee and Ishan Dey early on, visitors Mumbai FC capitalised on a defensive error to take the lead in the 16th minute.
On a breakaway move, Mumbai FC’s Clivert Demers managed to get into the clear after the Pune FC backline failed to clear danger and slotted home from close range.
Having fallen behind, Pune FC began pushing up with the intent to score and had a couple of chances but Aryan Thite and Mozaffar lacked the finish in the final third.
In the 30th minute, Pune FC almost pulled level after a quick counter saw Aakash run into the clear. The lanky striker timed his run well to control Hendry’s through ball and beat the advanced Mumbai FC custodian. However, Aakash was denied by a defender as he tried to finish from the left flank which meant Pune FC went into the breather trailing by a goal to nil.
The second half was a different story as Pune FC came out all guns blazing. Pushing up from both flanks and the middle, they put massive pressure on the Mumbai FC defense. As the intensity increased, Pune FC were denied an equaliser when Aakash’s header on Aryan Irani’s cross hit the crossbar, bounced inside the line and came out in the 54th minute.
Nonetheless, Pune FC’s constant pressure finally paid off as they pulled level a minute past the hour mark. An intelligent through ball from Aryan Thite saw Mozaffar run free on the right. The winger controlled and finished past the Mumbai FC custodian to make it 1-1.
The home side had numerous chances to take the lead thereafter, and went agonisingly close in the 69th minute. Aakash who once again got into the clear in the box managed to take a crack but hit the vertical from close.
After falling short on few occasions, Pune FC finally took the lead in the 74th minute. A brilliant counter attack saw Aakash release the ball to Mozaffar down the middle who completed his brace with an identical finish to the first to send the home fans into raptures.
The last quarter saw some end-to-end action but Pune FC controlled majority of proceedings before sealing a well-deserved 2-1 win.
Pune FC: Shahad (GK), Aryan T, Hendry (C), Gulab, Saurabh, Cladeo, Aryan, Mozaffar, Shreepad (90+2’; Aabheer), Aakash (86’; Adarsh), Ishan (58’; Gulam)
Unused Subs: Deepak (GK), Raoul, Siddhant, Amey
Yellow Cards: Mozaffar 27’, Hendry 75’