Meghalaya edge out Odisha, crowned Coca Cola Cup champions

By Santosh Rao, IANS,

Navi Mumbai : Meghalaya beat Odisha 1-0 Tuesday to lift the Coca-Cola Cup, the national under-15 sub-junior football tournament trophy, at the Father Agnels School, Vashi, here.

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A lone goal from Ronald Kydon Lyngdoh in the 37th minute proved to be the difference between the two teams.

Meghalaya dominated the entire match, witnessed by batting legend Sachin Tendulkar and India football captain Sunil Chettri, but were wasteful in front of goal with Odisha creating minimal chances.

The first chance though fell to Odisha but a glaring miss from a header denied them the lead in only the second minute of the game.

From then on, it was one-way traffic as the team from the north east made all the plays and created chance after chance.

Meghalaya had majority of the possession, however stubborn defending by Odisha coupled with poor finishing meant that the game remained tied 0-0 till well into the first half.

However, Ronald showed the way to his team mates, finishing a beautiful move by Meghalaya. Coming from the right he beat a defender and slotted the ball past a hapless Odisha keeper (1-0).

The second half started much in the same vein as Meghalaya again set camp in Odisha’s half.

Odisha to their credit fought back and were more enterprising in the second half but Meghalaya’s defence kept them at bay.

The game seemed to stagnate and chances were few and far between for both teams.

With just minutes left for the end of the match, Odisha had a golden opportunity to level the score and take the final to extra time but their striker failed to convert from three yards out.

In the end, Meghalaya held on to their narrow lead and with the final whistle broke into joyous rapture.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) technical director Rob Baan congratulated the Meghalaya team.

“Congratulations to the Meghalaya team who have proven their prowess on the field today. I wish them all the best for the future, as they get ready to reach higher echelons of success in the sport and represent the national team someday,” the Dutchman said.

“This tournament has been instrumental in not just providing a platform for budding footballers but also encouraging many others to take to the sport and hence, acting as a catalyst to promote football in the country,” he said

Over 41,000 players from 2,610 schools across 86 cities competed at district, state and zonal levels to qualify for the national finals.

The AIFF will be shortlisting 40 players from the tournament for the National under-16 football squad camp.