In a tense final that extended over to a Penalty shootout, Nagpur Goalkeeper and captain Owais Khan turned the hero with his crucial saves to help his side lift the WIFA Inter-District championship title
Having knocked out tournament favorites in the semi-finals, Nagpur and host Pune both had a pragmatic approach to the game resulting in a cagey opening exchange of the match.
Both defenses were on point with goalkeepers Owais Khan (Nagpur) and Shubham Pednekar (Pune) marshaling the defense well to keep their opponent’s attack quiet. The first half ended with neither side managing to break the deadlock as they entered the tunnel with the score still at 0 – 0.
In the second half, Nagpur started brightly as they came out fresh and aggressive in search of an early goal. They were quickly rewarded for the approach when Sufiyan Sheikh latched on to the ball inside the Pune box, and took a snapshot that hit the sidebar before sneaking into the goal to make it 1-0. With time running out, Pune pushed for the equalizer and started putting men forward in attack. As the game entered the final stages, the attacking pressure paid off for Pune, when Nagpur defender Mohammed Shabab headed a cross into his own box into his own goal.
The game turned end to end as both sides looked for the winner but neither managed to find any further goal. The match then headed into a penalty shootout where Nagpur goalkeeper Owais Khan turned out to be the hero.
In the shootout, Jeevan Rawat and Stanley Peter both converted their team’s first shot. In the second round, Harshad Gawande hit his shot wide for Pune while Sagar Chintala converted his shot for Nagpur to make it 1-2. Shubham Pednekar than found the net to bring it back to 2-2, at the other end Nirmal Munnda then converted his strike to put Nagpur back in lead. In the fourth attempt, Owais Khan saved Ayush Deepak’s strike to keep the score at 2-3 before Sufiyan Sheikh converted his strike to make it 4-2 and send his team to victory.
Nagpur brushed aside their last season’s final loss to Kolhapur to now come back with vigour and win the title this year.
FT: Nagpur (Sufiyan Sheikh 47′) 1 (4) – 1 (3) Pune (Mohammed Shabab 83′ (OG))
Best Goalkeeper – Owais Khan (Nagpur)
Best Defender – Sidhant Pranay (Pune)
Best Midfielder – Shrikant Molangiri (Pune)
Top Scorer – Sumit Bhandari (Pune – 9 goals)
Player of the Tournament – Sufiyan Sheikh (Nagpur)