Is Maharashtra now the strongest footballing force in the West?

Maharashtra vs Goa dominance

As the dust settles on Mumbai FC’s fantastic win over Salgaocar last week, we take a look at a few happenings in recent times which indicate a power shift in terms of footballing strength in the Western part of the country.

Goa have always held the aces when football in Western part of the country was concerned. Goa also have been Bengal’s biggest challengers when it comes to national glory over the years.

But football is finding its feet across various other states in the country and these states are throwing up some real challenges to the two big powerhouses Goa and West Bengal.

We talk about Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur and other states in the east which are growing in stature. Similarly Kerala is coming out as one of the bigger footballing states in the country.

But when we focus on the Western part of India, there has been a resurgence in recent times by Goa’s neighbor Maharashtra who are slowly growing big enough to claim Western India’s bragging rights in terms of footballing strength.

We take a look at a few happenings in the last year or so which hint at a possible shift in power.

1. The juniors lead the way

Maharashtra Sub junior champions

Maharashtra Sub junior champions

Maharashtra’s U-15 side managed by Augusto D’Silva trounced Goa’s juniors to top the charts of the West Zone qualifying round. Maharashtra who were 4-1 down at half time in the last of the group games against Goa made a second half comeback to draw the game at 5-5 which ensured Maharashtra top the West Zone charts. In the final for the West Zone title Maharashtra beat Goa to win the West Zone qualifying round.

2. Seniors follow suit

Maharashtra vs Goa dominance

Maharashtra vs Goa dominance

The Maharashtra senior side followed on the footsteps of the juniors as they beat Goa twice at the 35th National games. Firstly a 5-3 win over Goa propelled Maharashtra to the semi-finals. Secondly, Maharashtra came out on top in the 3rd place play off seeing off Goa in a 3-1 win to claim the bronze medal. But Goa did have their moment in the Santosh Trophy qualifying round when they narrowly beat Maharashtra 2-1. But Maharashtra did manage to qualify for the final round.

3. Inter-University dominance

Mumbai University team 2014

Mumbai University team 2014

In the inter-University championships, Maharashtra’s men and women both came out on top, winning the West zone titles.

4. Maharashtra: A force in the I-League

I-league teams from Maharashtra and Goa

I-league teams from Maharashtra and Goa

Maharashtra have matched Goa in terms of the number of teams participating in the I-League. With Bharat FC’s introduction and Churchill Brother’s dismissal, Maharashtra and Goa both have three teams each in this season’s I-League.

The statistics show a significant shift in power. Whether Maharashtra could now be called the strongest force in the West is a point of debate, but they certainly have managed to create a debate which wasn’t there before.
Maharashtra is growing as a footballing force and giving Goa a run for its money. A rivalry is developing in the western part of the country which may assume greater proportions in the future. The Sun is smiling on the west for a change and the change is only good for football in India.

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