In an interesting turn of events, defending champions Kolhapur and tournament favorites Mumbai both got knocked out of the WIFA Inter District Championship in the semi-finals as host Pune and last year’s runner-up team Nagpur set up the title clash
In the first semifinal of the day, three-time champions Kolhapur faced off against host Pune. The early proceeding saw Kolhapur taking the charge but were profligate in their attacks.
Pune soon came into the game as they went close to scoring when Satish Hawaldar’s free kick came off the bar. Around the half-hour mark, Pune broke the deadlock from a quickly taken free kick in the middle which Satish H latched onto before sending a cross that striker Sudeesh M tapped home to make it 1-0.
In search of the equalizer, Kolhapur put men forward but failed to break a resolute Pune defense. They came close from Indrajeet’s corner which Pawan headed wide while Prabhu’s freekick was well saved by the Pune Goalie. Soaking in the pressure, Pune looked played on the counter and took their chance in the 85th minute when after a counter-attacking move saw the initial shot deflected off pawan and fell on the path of Sumit Bhandari who made no mistake in finding the net.
Kolhapur went close again as Rushikesh’s header came off the bar while a late strike from Karna brought out a brilliant save from Pune Custodian. The game ended with host Pune qualifying for the final and three-time champions Kolhapur getting knocked out of the competition.
Kolhapur 0 – 2 Pune (Sudeesh M 31′, Sumit Bhandari 85′)
In the other semifinal, Mumbai were knocked out of the Competition as Nagpur held their nerves in Penalty Shootout to make it to the finals of the competition.
Mumbai started out brightly with some good attacking runs, however, Nagpur held their defensive shapes solid to keep the attacks on bay in the opening exchanges. Arif sheikh came close to breaking the deadlock only to be denied by the woodwork as his header came off the bar.
Nagpur keeper Owais Khan was on top form as he pulled off some incredible saves in the game, first from Ashley Koli’s shot then denied Shravan Shetty to keep the scoreline 0-0 at the break.
It was in the second half the game finally saw a goal. Midway through the half, Sunny Thakur delivered a dangerous cross inside the box that Nagpur defense failed to clear away properly allowing Johnson Mathew to make a run into the box and strike it past the keeper to put Mumbai in front.
With the time running out, Nagpur started pushing for the equalizer and were eventually rewarded when minutes before full time whistle Mehul Sindram’s jump met a cross into the box as the ball sneaked into the Mumbai goal to level the cross.
The game entered a penalty shootout where Nagpur held their nerves better to beat Mumbai and reach the finals for the consecutive season. They now face host Pune for the title.
Nagpur (Mehul Sindram 86′) 1 – 1 Mumbai (Johnson Mathews 73′)