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Kerela Challengers clinch the 40th UGC Football Edition
April 4, 2016, 12:07 pm

United Goans Centre (UCG) completes a huge landmark by celebrating its presence in Kuwait for forty years and its 40th football tourney in front of a packed Bayan stadium. Since its inception in 1976, UGC had started the football league along with a knock out tournament and three years later, they changed solely to knock out tournaments to allow other clubs a chance to hold tourneys under the KIFF umbrella.

United Goans Centre was the first football tournament for Indian expatriates in Kuwait and is one of the only clubs that have lasted the test of time. United Goans Centre motto 'friendship through sports' has been managed under the leadership of president Tony Alphonso along with the vice-president Agnelo Dcunha, they have been taking the club to new heights.

To celebrate this huge milestone, UGC has also successfully conducted the second inter school children's football tourney allowing the young generation a chance to showcase their skills. Reverend Father Domnic had inaugurated the first football tournament in 1979 and although he could not make it this time, he had send his prayers and best wishes to UGC on the occasion of their 40th football Edition.

The national anthems of Kuwait and India were played before the start of the games. The inter school childrens final was played between United Indian School (UIS) and Indian Central School (ICS). Both teams were very excited to have a shot at taking home the Winners trophy as teams showed up ahead of time on a bright and sunny Friday morning to warm up. 

The match opened with ICS attacking the UIS defense fiercely and spending almost the first quarter of the match in the UIS box. Sandip the  playmaker for ICS  had three shots in the first ten minutes. He had to be substituted early on, due to injury and the tide had changed the match for UIS. UIS had a few shots on target and they made it count with Nikhil evading the fingertips of Rajesh to give UIS the much needed lead.

UIS was defending in numbers in the box to protect the lead. In the second half, ICS stepped up the pressure and came close a couple of time but the keeper Joshua was upto the task all the times.  In the last minute he pulled of a stunning save to make sure ICS did not get that all important equalizer.

As the final whistle blew, UIS celebrated their 1-0 win and their inter school U-14 football trophy overcoming eight schools in the tournament. Adam of UIS won the lucky school children draw to win a foosball table given by Peter Mendes. All the schools that had participated received a token of appreciation for their participation. The chief guest  for the day was Mr.Hakim who is the CEO of Al Amaz shipping company.

Under 14 Inter School Football Tourney Awards :

1.    Best Discipline Team - Carmel School
2.    First Player To Score: Nikhil of UIS
3.   UGC Man of the match ->Shaheen of UIS
3.    UGC Top Scorer of the Tournament: Shaheen of UIS
4.    UGC Best Goal Keeper: Joshua of UIS
6.    UGC Best Defender of the Tournament: Anol of Indian Central School

Both Goa Maroons and Kerala Challengers were vying to take home the trophy and the iconic title of Winners of the 40th UGC football Edition. Goa Maroons had their eyes on the prize while the Kerala Challengers, having won the trophy last year, looked to continue their winning streak. Both teams played at more than a 100 percent level, but there could only be one winner on that day. In the first half,  the determination and passion from both sides to find the opening goal was evident. Kerela Challengers had to come from a goal down to beat Goa Maroons and seal the game in penalties as extra time was not enough to separate both the teams.

The first half saw no goals, but Goa Maroons came close with Jeffrey by hitting the woodwork. The momentum was with Goa Maroons at this time and they were looking dangerous with more attacking play and were unlucky not to score. Kerela Challengers were forced to defend during this play and defended succesfully. Kerela Challengers were missing their ace striker Ben for this match.

The second half saw a lot of action as both teams maintained an equal amount of possesion and Jagdesh and Abin of Kerela Challengers put in some fine crosses but they could not find the final finishing. Goa Maroons had a goal dissallowed in the second half as their attacker was in the offside position.Goa Maroons got the lead with a fine header from Steven Rodrigues.

The KIFF referees – Robert, Victor,Sami and Rafi did a fantastic job refeering the match and when tempers flared Robert rightfully showed Biju and Gomes a red card for the brawl they were involved in. When Haris was substitued in the second half, he almost immediately made a positive  effect for Kerela Challengers.

With both teams ten men down, Goa Maroons looked to be in the driving seat but a lapse of concentration and a wrong positioning decision from their keeper squandered their lead in the last minute. A nice cross from Haris allowed Jamsheel to slot in his header to give Kerela Challengers the all important equalizer. Kerela Challengers comprehensively converted their spot kicks and deservedly took home the UGC trophy after a 4-2 penalty shootout win with Sajesh, Sanjil, Haris and Jagadeesh all scoring. Kerela Challengers keeper Mohammed made some fine saves to deny Goa Maroons penalty kickers.

After the match, the match balls was signed by the both the captains and was given as a souvenir to the founder members of United Goans Centre - Brigid Fernandes and Tony Gonsalves. The current UGC committee honored the old guard of UGC – Tony Gonsalves,Rosario Lawrence, Pascoal Alfonso, Brigid Fernandes and Joseph Gonzalves who for the last forty years have been iconic for their hardwork and dedication behind the scenes.

Tony Gonsalves, founder member and president for 25 years,was also honoured by The Times and other clubs for his contributions in establishing UGC and making football prominent in Kuwait for expatriates over the last forty years. Brigid Fernandes the star striker of UGC who was a nightmare for every goalkeeper has been helping the current UGC team management.

Rosario Lawrence a very dedicated individual who was one of the best goal keepers continuously imparts his knowledge to the younger generation in training. Pascoal Alfonso, the former president of UGC has been a pillar of strength during the last few decades. Joseph Gonsalves the young and dynamic committee member was also recognized for his invaluable contribution to UGC.

1. The Best Discipline Team (in memory of late president Joe Fernandes) went to AVC Sports & Cultural Association.
2. The man of the match was Jamsheel for his crucial equalizer.
3. The Top Scorer of the Tournament Was Ben.
4. The KIFF referees and the referees for the childrens tourney were presented with a watch for their superb efforts.

UGC Runners Up Cups for under 14 were handed out by Vice President IWA Dr. Tahseen Khan. The Winners Trophy was handed out by Mr Hakim CEO Al Amaz.

UGC Runners Up Cups were handed by IWA President Mrs.Muriel Alphonso and the the UGC Winners Cup was given by Former President Tony Gonsalves of UGC.  The vote of thanks was given by the president of UGC, Tony Alphonso and the guest of Honor Dr. Riaz Khan gave his of wisdom to the organizers and the teams.  

The main sponsors of the 40th UGC Event were Gulf Bank , UAGSCO Shipping & Logistics Co, Al-Yasra Food Co, Al Amaz Shipping Co and NAÏF  Food Co.

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