On the warm, windy and slightly overcast morning of 10 April, 2015, United Goans Centre (UGC) in association with the Kuwait Indian Football Federation kicked off the 39th Football Edition Final at the Bayan grounds.
With goals, ties and comebacks seen all tournament long; it was a final worth waking up at dawn for, as the Kerala Challengers and Don Bosco both proved that they deserved to be there. Both teams showed a tenacity no less than one would see in a premier league derby. Six minutes into the match, Akshay Bosley opened scoring for Don Bosco with a goal that stunned the Kerala Challengers defense. Though they were a goal up, Don Bosco felt the pressure, as the Challengers kept them on their toes. The Challengers’ persistence paid off when Ben scored a goal around the 10-minute mark, bringing the score line to a 1-1 draw.
Viewers were spellbound as both teams fought tooth and nail, to take home the UGC cup. Don Bosco, hot in pursuit of a goal were rewarded when Prajot scored in the 24th minute with a clear shot on goal which the keeper had no chance of saving. The score was 2-1 for Don Bosco, but the Challengers attacked with more zeal than before to try to level the score. When the half-time whistle blew, each team was in dire need of reprieve from the 45 minutes of exhilarating football.
During the Halftime, all the kids were delighted to receive goodie bags, generously donated by the Al-Yasra Food Company. After a round of refreshments and a quick break, both teams, picked up right where they had left off. Don Bosco made their first substitution quickly, as Nikhil came in for Salman. Nikhil made an immediate impact, scoring a goal that was amazing to watch, for all, except the Challengers’ players. The Challengers had a mountain to climb if they were to beat Don Bosco’s 3-1 lead.
Just when it seemed the pressure of delivering was getting to them, the challengers had reason to celebrate when Anizar scored an incredible goal to make it 2-3. The Challengers hit again with a more potent attack on target, but the referee had blown his whistle just moments before their ball found the back of the net. Being denied did not stop the Challengers as they drew 3-3 seconds later when Ben scored another spectacular goal. Just as the crowd was getting over the previous goal, Lloyed delivered for Don Bosco to take the lead again at 4-3.
As time flew by, the crowd was at the edge of their seats, because it was anyone’s game. Everyone kept watching the clock it was now or never. The challengers had less than a minute, to make magic happen. Evidently, the Kerela Challenger’s Ben possessed that magic; he scored his hat trick making the score 4-4, mere seconds, before the final whistle sounded. Additional two halves of extra time produced no change in the score line, but increased aggression on the pitch forced the referee to hand out yellow cards to two players from both teams. As they headed for penalties, the crowd was on its feet hoping, praying and wishing with all their hearts. The penalties were nail-biting, heart thumping, and nerve-wracking, as much for the players as everyone else.
Don Bosco converted just 1 out of 4 penalties. Mahsook, Ben and Navzal impressed with out 3 of 4 penalties to seal the rightly deserved win for the Kerala Challengers as the crowd erupted in cheers screaming ‘what a comeback!’ The referee presented the match ball winner to the captain Sive of Kerala Challengers who took home the UGC trophy.
UGC Man of the Match was awarded to Ben from the Kerala Challengers for his hat-trick performance in the final and for scoring his penalty kick. UGC Top Scorer of the tournament was presented by M.M Jacob (prestigious Indian footballer and coach for Kerela in Santos Trophy in India) also went to Ben of Kerela challengers.
Siva Prasad who has been outstanding all tournament of the Kerala Challenger’s bagged the best goalkeeper of the tournament.The Best Disciplined Team (in loving memory of late president Joe Fernandes) was presented by Father Franco went out to Curtorcares as they had the least yellow cards in the tournament.
In closing, Tony Alphonso, the President for United Goans Centre, thanked the teams, sponsors – Al Yasra Food Company, Viva Goa, chief guest Reina Vaz, and everyone who helped make the tournament a success. The motto of United Goans Centre is “Friendship through Sports” and the aim of our club is to promote football for the young generation in Kuwait to encourage them get involved in a positive activity. Football teaches us more than the rules of game, it translates into other aspects of life. Football requires quick thinking, fast action and the ability to work as a team. These qualities help footballers in their personal and professional life.
Football helps us understand that whether you win or lose you take credit as a team and not as an individual. Football helps build strong family ties, understanding and working as a team to face life's challenges. The chief guest Reina Vaz praised UGC efforts and wished them all the best as they come close to their 40th tourney. The Runners-Up was handed out by the UGC President Tony Alphonso to the captain of Don Bosco. The Winners cup was handed out by the chief guest Reina Vaz. Though the Kerala Challengers took home the winning trophy that afternoon, memory of that spectacular match will remain with every person present there for quite some time.