Football

United SC quells AIFF juniors' challenge

Chirag United SC thwarted a spirited challenge from the juniors of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) XI 2-1 to give a winning start to its I-League campaign here on Friday.

The first round match at the Salt Lake Stadium saw the youngest of the three city teams managing two goals in the opening half in reply to one from its less-fancied opponent, which presented a youthful combination of former India under-19 players.

The ‘boys', who have been thrust among the seniors by the national federation in a bid to get them ready for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, impressed with their grittiness while taking on a ‘professional' opposition.

United SC, which enhanced its rating winning the prestigious Durand Cup earlier in November, justified its status by successfully clinging to the slender margin.

United SC's recent acquisition from Sporting Clube de Goa — Nigerian Elijah Obagbemiro Junior — found the AIFF net in the third minute of action. Junior, let off on a provision from his Brazilian colleague upfront Joshimar Da Silva, neatly slotted home.

Quick counter-attacks

The AIFF juniors, coached by Englishman Desmond Bulpin, mounted quick counter-attacks with Jibon Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua giving the United SC defenders a hard time. Making good use of their speed and fitness the AIFF boys found the equaliser in the 21st minute off Larindika Ralte's rasping pile-driver.

Junior, who proved to be the most dynamic among the United SC attackers, found two more opportunities but failed to strike. After Ralte had seen another of his shot rebounding off the United SC woodwork in the 30th minute, Junior sealed the match in United SC's favour with an opportunistic goal in the 44th minute.

The host preserved the lead in the second session tightening its defence. The AIFF outfit came close to finding the equaliser once again in 89th minute but Mondal thwarted the attempt that came off Jibon Singh's corner kick.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 1:01:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/United-SC-quells-AIFF-juniors-challenge/article15579176.ece

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