MUMBAI: They may not be greatly blessed with height, but Don Bosco’s (Matunga) midfield duo of Ninad Kamble and Vedant Sawant stole the show, leading their team to the MSSA U-16 Division I title by beating Bombay Scottish (Mahim) 2-0 in the final played at the Cooperage Stadium on Monday.
Don Bosco coach Leslie Machado had warned his boys ahead of the final that beating a physically gifted Bombay Scottish team wouldn’t be an easy task and the only way to do that was to control the midfield. Kamble and Sawant, 5ft 1in and 4ft 7in respectively, were handed the task of unsettling the Scottish midfield, and they did so with deftness.
While their defensive duties were on point, Kamble delivered a spectacular floating ball that split the defence to set up the opening goal in the 12th minute for Keith Fernandes. The striker controlled the ball with his left foot, took a touch forward, and with just the keeper in his way, drilled the ball into the back of the net. Once they opened the scoring, the boys from Matunga looked more confident with the ball, setting up attack after attack. Kamble and Sawant continually pulled strings from midfield making life difficult for the Scottish defence.
Shirharsh Palli doubled the lead for Don Bosco in the 49th minute (it was a 60-minute match), heading home from a corner by Arzaan Panathy. Kamble – who right until April this year played as a right back – was thankful that his coach gave him the opportunity to play as a midfielder. “One of the boys who played as a midfielder got injured, so the coach told me to play since I used to play as a wing back. I’m glad I did justice to it,” a jubilant Kamble said after the match.
Sawant, who scored the solitary goal in his school’s semifinal victory over St Stanislaus, owes his improvement to his club – Iron Born.
“Playing for the club and training regularly has helped me learn what to do in difficult situations,” the 14-year-old said.
Sai’s brace gives AVM the title
Stalwart Sai Sankhe led AVM to the girls U-16 Div I title with a commanding 3-1 win over Mary Immaculate (Borivali) in the final on Monday.