The State inter-club football championship at Areekode threw up a pleasant surprise with Thiruvananthapuram based AG’s Office winning the title.
AG’s upset quite a few seasoned teams on its way to the title and in the final, it prevailed over the favourite State Bank of Travancore 4-3 on penalties after both teams failed to score during regular time.
It ended the long wait for AG’s Office, which was once a prominent team in the State in the 70s and 80s, to win a major football title. The last major title won by the team was the inter-club championship in 1970.
It is a remarkable achievement for a team which was revived in 2011 — when five footballers were recruited — after a gap of 15 years. Six more players were recruited this year and the team won the Thiruvananthapuram District ‘A’ division football league this season. But none gave AG’s Office even ghost of a chance to win the State inter-club championship.
The team started regular practice only three months ago and that too when former Titanium player T.V. Gopalakrishnan agreed to be the honorary coach.
Gopalakrishnan imbibed an attacking style in the team and players responded in style. The team scored 10 goals in the inter-club tournament and the no holds-barred attack saw it go ahead in almost all matches.
At Areekode, AG’s office scalped some of the big teams in the State.
Its dream run started with a 3-0 win over SFC, Palakkad and then it was followed by a win over Farooke College in the pre-quarterfinals.
The 4-0 rout of former champion Travancore Titanium in the quarterfinals underlined the class and in the semifinals it then beat a strong Josco FC 2-1 before prevailing over SBT in the final.
“The win was not a fluke if you look at the number of goals scored by us in the tournament. There was an element of surprise and it helped us as all the teams were playing against us for the first time. Our attacking style also took other teams by surprise,” said team member Anil Kumar.
Mithun Welwet, the former Kerala Police player, was the top-scorer in the tournament for AG’s Office with four goals. The experience of Santosh Trophy stars — Kannan and captain Saleel — also put the team in good stead in the tournament. Both Saleel and Kannan scored three goals each.
Two Manipuri players who had played for Santosh Trophy for Delhi — Obaid and Golmai — also proved their worth for AG’s Office in Areekkode.
“We played the final against SBT without three regular players. Kannan played but was carrying an injury. SBT surprised us by adopting an attacking style and we were lucky not to concede an early goal. It was tight match and goalkeeper Sreeju made crucial two crucial saves,” said Anil.
Anil Kumar also said that the snub from the organisers of the G.V. Raja football tournament encouraged the players to perform well at the inter-club tournament.
The AG’s Office win is certainly a shot in the arm for sports in the State as AG’s Office is one of few departments which recruit sportspersons. Though recruitment was started after a while, sports aficionados are hoping that AG’s Office will revive its volleyball team also.
The team has talent and desire to be the next big thing in Kerala football. What it needs is more support from the management.
Keywords: State inter-club football championship