Air India edge Indian Navy in a dramatic Final to lift the RCF Premier Cup 2014

Air india are the champion of 6th RCF Premier Cup

Air India were crowned Champions of the 6th RCF Premier Cup as they came out on top in a marathon final against Indian Navy which ended 6-5 in favor of Air India on penalties after the teams were locked at goal apiece after the regulation sixty minutes at the RCF Sports Complex in Chembur.

The final was set to be a spectacle with the two best teams on paper making it through to the final. Off the field, India’s Special child, Sita Sahu, a two time Olympic bronze medalist graced the event with her presence before kick off as she took a photograph with the team amidst a standing ovation from a huge crowd assembled at the RCF Sports Complex. A proud moment for every sports lover to see such a great achiever so well applauded.

On field action started with the game being played at a very quick pace. Both the teams were up for the task, fresh from their semi-final wins and the assembled crowd were in for a treat.

In the 6th minute, the inform Air India midfielder Vijith Shetty broke free to drive at the Indian Navy defence, but his shot hit the side netting. Four minutes later, Indian Navy front man G. Priyokumar Sharma was played in on the flank as his cross was well blocked by the Air India defence.

Air India goalkeeper Vian Joseph is called into action he makes brilliant save at full stretch to tip over a G. Priyokumar Sharma’s shot. Three minutes later, it was Air India who tested the Indian Navy rearguard, as Sagar Chile drove at the heart of the Indian Navy defence. But the Indian navy defence had their answers.

Priyokumar Sharma of Indian Navy nearly profits as Vian Joseph comes off his line but fails to collect a long ball. He is bailed out by his defenders, who cleared the mess.

Indian Navy made the first substitution of the game, as they brought on Riyad B. in place of No. 9 Britto. In the first minute of two added time minutes, Sagar Chile earned a corner from which he got a great opportunity to score but he chose to pass instead of shooting and the chance was gone.

It was goalless at half time, but the half provided plenty of entertainment, thanks to the high tempo both teams were playing.

The second half started in similar fashion as Priyokumar Sharma’s effort in the 36th minute was saved by Vian Joseph. A minute later, Air India almost took the lead, through Vijith Shetty whose effort struck the upright after he met a cross from the right flank.

Air India took the lead in the 41st minute as Sagar Chile fired home in an open goal from close range after the ball had ricocheted in his path after Indian Navys’ goalkeeper saved Vijith Shetty’s goal bound shot. Air India had got the advantage in a tight game and were less than twenty minutes away from glory.

But the advantage was wiped away almost instantly when Indian Navy were awarded a penalty a minute later, which Sunil Kumar dispatched to bring us back to square one. The goals lifted the spirits of the crowd which was buzzing.

Air India’s Baldeep Singh saw his header saved well by the Indian Navy goalkeeper eight minutes from time, while two minutes later it was the Air India shot stopper who saw action when he tipped away a shot from G. Priyokumar Sharma. The spin on the ball made Vian Joseph’s work tougher than it would have been.

With penalties looming, Air India made a double change bringing on T. Johnychand Singh and Onkar Singh. The referee signaled for two minutes of stoppage time. In the first of those minutes, Vian Joseph made a brilliant save to deny Indian Navy from snatching it late on.

The referee blew for full time and the game was to be decided from ten yards.

Air India went first with Vijith Shetty putting them in front with a fine penalty in the bottom left corner. But Indian Navy leveled things up at 1-1 with Sunil Kumar slotting his kick in the bottom right corner.

Next up was late substitute Onkar Singh who stepped up and missed his spot kick. His misery was compounded when Riyaad B. dispatched his spot kick to pull Indian Navy in the lead.

T. Johnychand Singh levels the scores despite the keeper going in the right direction. Raman Rai get Indian Navy back in front as his kick is almost saved by Vian Joseph as he gets his toes to it.

Air India’s Askar C.V. blasted his penalty over after Indian Navy made a goalkeeping change. Air India made a change of their own in goal, as Vian Joseph made way for Siddharth Nayak who came in a situation where he had to deliver to keep his team alive and he did exactly that as he dived low to his left to save from the Indian navy skipper Akash Kamble.

Neil Gaikwad who was the last of the five kick takers stepped up for Air India and scored after he send the keeper the wrong way. The last man for the Indian Navy was Sumesh PS and Air India needed to stop this one from going in. Siddharth Nayak produced another save to his left as Air India dramatically came back into the game sending it to sudden death.

The hero for Air India himself stepped up and converted despite the goalkeeper getting his hand to it. The momentum had swung Air India’s way and the pressure was now on Indian Navy to convert to survive.

Striker G. Priyokumar Sharma did the needful as he scored in the top right corner. Vian Joseph put Air India ahead again only for the substitute keeper to hold his nerve and bring Indian Navy back into it.

Santosh Koli converted his penalty to give Air India a 6-5 lead in the shootout after he scored in the bottom left corner. Indian Navy failed to convert as No. 8 Anoop shot his kick over to spark celebrations in the Air India camp.

Air India overcame their disappointment of losing out in the Nadkarni Cup to lift the 6th RCF Premier Cup. Air India’s Vijith Shetty was adjudged at the ‘Player of the Tornament’ as he drove home a sparkling Hero Honda Shine motorbike.

Pradeep Kumar of Central Railways was the Best Goalkeeper, while Sumesh from the Indian Navy was awarded the Best Defender award. JP Sharma of Indian Navy was awarded the Best Forward and the outstation outfit P.T.M Kolhapur bagged the ‘Fairplay Award’.

Four days of great footballing action ended with Air India overcoming their final hoodoo to win the RCF Premier Cup after one of the most competitive finals in recent times.

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