HDFC Bank rise to the occasion to lift the 8th BFRA Fair Play Trophy

Housing Development Finance Corporation were crowned Champions of the 8th BFRA (The Bombay Football Referee Association) Fair Play Trophy held on the occasion of the Republic Day at St. Xavier’s Ground in Parel.

The knockout tournament was spread across two days, with 9 players per team and twenty minutes per half.
HDFC Bank who play in the 1st Division of the MDFA football league, which is its third tier surprised everyone as they beat another surprise package Century Rayon from the 2nd division 5-4 on penalties after both teams were tied at 0-0 after end of regulation play in the final.

Century Rayon who was a relatively younger outfit started the better of the two teams as they earned their first corner in just the 3rd minute of the game thanks to some neat work by Thelihan Vasum and Manohar Shakiya.

After failing to make the most of the corner, Century Rayon won a free kick just outside the penalty area a minute later, when Thelihas Vasum’s mazy run drew a foul from the HDFC defender. Bishow Thapa struck a fine free kick which was cleared off the line by a HDFC defender marking the far post.

HDFC weathered the early storm and started getting into the game around the 12th minute as their wide man cut inside and unleashed a shot at the Century Rayon goalkeeper, who made a fine low save.

Three minutes later, Thelihan Vasum again dazzled his way into the box, battling a HDFC defender only to see his weak effort collected by the HDFC goalkeeper. The striker had a brilliant first half and created plenty of problems for the HDFC backline.

Two minutes later, HDFC produced the best move of the half when Blaise Fernandes forced a fine save off the Century Rayon goalkeeper after Sheldon Benny controlled a Nigel D’Souza cross to lay off for Blaise Fernandes.

HDFC ended the first period on the front foot. It was a good half of football with both teams having their moments.
HDFC’s Nigel D’Souza nearly opened the scoring as he narrowly sent a free kick wide in the 25th minute. Three minutes later, Century Rayon wasted a great chance to take the lead when Thelihan Vasum failed to contro the ball after being through on goal. Just seconds later, Zongshopam Lungleng failed to apply a finishing touch after being in a one on one position for Century Rayon.

HDFC took control of the game in the final ten minutes but failed to drive home the ascendency as the referee signaled the end of the regulation time meaning, a penalty shootout was needed to settle the tie.

Ketan Kalgatkar was the first to step up for HDFC and he failed to convert as his effort rattled the left hand side post. Thelihan Vasum who was the star of the game, made no mistakes as he converted emphatically to put the 2nd Division outfit in the lead.

Nelson Cardozo restored parity for HDFC with a coolly taken spot kick, but Zongshopam Lungleng’s brilliant spot kick put Century Rayon back in front.

HDFC’s Tushar Anchan scored with a neat penalty in the bottom corner before Chihanring Khmarang sent his kick flying into the roof of the net to give Century Rayon a 3-2 lead.

Shelton Benny made it 3-3 with a neatly taken penalty. Bishow Thapa put Century Rayon on the brink after a cracking spot kick in the top corner. Prakhyat Shetty somehow managed to keep HDFC alive after his penalty went in despite the Century Rayon goalkeeper getting a hand to it.

MD Sanshah stepped up for Century Rayon but lost his balance at the crucial time as he sent his spot kick horribly wide to allow HDFC back into it. Avlian N. put HDFC in front for the first time in the final after converted the first spot kick in the sudden death.

Gulzar M.D though couldn’t convert as HDFC were crowned champions of the 8th BFRA Fair Play trophy. Both teams had displayed great football, throughout the tournament and surprised everyone by dismissing the challenge of the higher division teams while getting to the final.

Century Rayon was an amazing story as they entertained everyone present at St. Xavier’s ground with their enthralling football, but it was HDFC in the end who lifted the trophy.

The tournament brought the best out of knockout football as the two day event proved to be very successful and full of entertainment.

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