The 43rd edition of the United Goans Center Football Finals was held at the Bayan grounds on Friday, 15 February. Finalists Skynet Miracles and United Goans Center (UGC) were ready to battle for the Winners Trophy.
The match started out in high gear with, UGC playing high up the field, hoping to breach the Skynet defense within the first few minutes. However, the strategy left them open to a counter attack from Skynet Miracles who were quick to react to every loose pass or misplaced ball.
Skynet Miracles took control of the midfield and tested the strength of the UGC defense by varying their attacks; some from distance while others through the middle. The strategy seemed to be taking effect as No. 10 Sabu sliced through the UGC defense and found himself free in front of goal but his shot went wide, ending a brilliant run with nothing to show for it.
Once UGC gained back possession, they tried their own attack; by launching a long ball from the center to an onrushing forward but the Skynet goalkeeper beat the opposition to tuck the ball safely in his arms. Skynet pushed forward again, this time using their right wing as a launching pad for their latest attack, but No. 7 Duresh made a hasty run and was deemed offside by the referee.
UGC decided to try a different strategy and started from the back. No. 9 Prince had a good opportunity and took a shot from range but his shot was off target. Of the two teams, Skynet seemed more likely to score, with players appearing at the right place at the right time. However, the one thing Skynet couldn’t find that final finesse in front of goal.
UG defense did their part as they thwarted the attacks that Skynet lobbed at them. No. 9 Prince made another lovely run at the Skynet goal but the Skynet goalkeeper Martin got to the ball first. The goalkeeper was very alert to the danger that the UGC players posed in front of goal and was there to meet them head on every time.
As the game wore on, Skynet seemed to concede possession for precision. They defended deep but were quick to counter with one touch passing that was quite entertaining to watch. Not to be outdone, UGC tried several attempts at goal as No.7 Dinil created several opportunities. The Skynet goalkeeper however, did his job and kept the UGC players from celebrating as he produced several wonderful saves. As much as UGC tried to break down Skynet’s defense, the linkup play between players was not as precise as one would hope to see at the finals stage. No. 07 Dinil tried again as he made a spectacular attempt on goal but the ball hit the pole and cleared quickly by the Skynet defense.
Skynet retaliated and started pressing the UGC goal with several plays and UGC in their desperation to defend conceded a handball in the 18-yard box. The referee immediately blew his whistle as shouts for handball sounded and awarded Skynet the penalty. Everyone waited in anticipation as No.11 Sonu lined up the ball as he faced the UGC goalkeeper and slotted the ball into the goal with ease as the Skynet players and the crowd erupted in celebration at the first goal of the match.
Keeping the momentum, Skynet restricted the UGC players to the outside of their box, taking back possession whenever the UGC players threatened. The UGC players didn’t give up and were persistent in their efforts to try and break through the Skynet defensive barrier. That persistence paid off when the ball landed at No.11 Kishor’s feet and he scored a precision goal tucked neatly in the bottom left corner. The UGC players celebrated the equalizer as a much-needed lifeline.
But the excitement of equalizing lasted briefly for the UGC as they lost the draw they had worked hard so within minutes. Perhaps in the excitement of equalizing, UGC defense made a mistake and spent too long on the ball in their own 18-yard box instead of clearing it. The lingering Skynet players seized their opportunity and put UGC under pressure. No. 9 Albin reacted quickest when the ball was at his feet and took his shot straight into the net without hesitation. UGC tried to get back into the game, but time wasn’t on their side. With no further goals on either side, Skynet won the match 2-1.
The awards for the tournament are as below:
Winners of the UGC 43rd Football Tournament – Skynet Miracles Football Club
Runners-up of the UGC 43rd Football Tournament – United Goans Center Football Club
Man of the match Award – Sonu from Skynet Miracles
Best Discipline Team – AKFC
Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament – Martin from Skynet Miracles
Highest Scorer of the Tournament – Githin from Indian Strikers
Best Coordinator Award – Mr. Thomas from United Goans Center
Best Coach Award – Mr. Agnello – from United Goans Center
Article by Giselle Fernandes