The recently contested Inter-District Men’s Championship at Nashik concluded on high. Out of the 32 teams who participated, underdogs Kolhapur and Nagpur made all the way to the finals where Kolhapur registered a thumping 5-1 victory to lift the title. Interestingly, a couple of months back, both these sides also met in the Women’s final at Nashik itself which went down the wire.
It is quite astonishing to witness teams like Kolhapur, Nagpur, Nashik doing well at Inter-District level where once Mumbai and Pune dominated the championships. One can say that the development and competitiveness of K-League (Kolhapur’s top-flight league) have played an instrumental role behind Kolhapur’s spectacular run.
Right from the beginning of the championship, Kolhapur looked like a fierce side. Filled with courage, passion and tenacity, the historic district left no stone unturned as they kept on progressing. In the semi-final, Kolhapur had to come across Pune, a district with a rich history in the bag. Kolhapur displayed a courageous effort and took the match to the penalties where they won 3-2.
Just like any other elite team, Kolhapur District saved their best for the ultimate showdown against Nagpur District. Nagpur had eliminated favourites Mumbai in the semis on penalties and prior to the final, they were the favourites to go all the way. But fate was at Kolhapur’s side.
With the score poised 1-1 at the break, Kolhapur smashed four goals in the second-half which completely blew their counterparts away. A goal apiece from Suraj Shingate, Sanket Salokhe, Prathamesh Herekar, Nikhil Kulkarni and Siddesh was enough to complete a resounding triumph. Manager Gajanan and Coach Rajendra’s hard-work and tactical nous proved instrumental which might turn out to be the first big step in the long run for Kolhapur.