Atlanta FC secures back-to-back MFA Elite Premier League titles with win over KSA

The final league game of the MFA Elite fixture between Ambernath UTD Atlanta FC and Karnatak Sporting Association (KSA) was a title decider, and it was Atlanta who came out on top.

The defending champions Ambernath United – Atlanta FC had not lost a single game this season and had a perfect win record last season as well. They had 40 points from the 14 games played. On the other hand, KSA had just 38 points from 14 games KSA needed an outright win, while Atlanta needed just a draw to lift their 2nd title in a row.

KSA started out well in patches and created some open chances in the first half but failed to score. The profligacy in front of the goal came to haunt them back as in the second half, Atlanta FC, who were defending their lines well started getting into the grove, fashioning out some good chances as well.

However, it was in the 75th minute, that changed the complexion of the game. Referee Crystal John, who was recently in the limelight for a controversial decision in the Hero Indian Super League playoff game between Bengaluru and Kerala Blasters which resulted in a walkout of the latter, was at the center of another similar decision.

A floating cross from an Atlanta FC player was sent into the box. The KSA defender tried to head the ball away but didn’t connect well and the loose ball touched his fellow teammate’s hand as John pointed to the spot. KSA defenders argued that there was no hand contact, but the referee’s decision stood final.

Arif Shaikh of Atlanta FC stepped up and converted the spot-kick to put his side in the lead. With the goal, Arif also went past Sanchit Singh to lead the goal-scoring charts.

Ambernath Utd – Atlanta players celebrate after the opening goal against KSA in the final league fixture

With the game slipping and their title challenge dwindling, KSA pushed men forward in search of an equalizer. This allowed Atlanta to play on the counter, and in the 86th minute, they doubled the lead. Sunny Thakur played a brilliant through ball for substitute Abhijit Tawhare, who slotted the ball into the KSA keeper’s net from the center of the box to make it 2-0.

The game ended with Atlanta keeping their unbeaten run intact for the past two years, thereby lifting their 2nd title in back-to-back years. It was a remarkable achievement for Atlanta, who have been the team to beat in the MFA Elite fixture. The KSA team fought valiantly, but it was not enough to stop the reigning champions.

FT: Ambernath Utd Atlanta FC (Arif Shaikh 75′(P), Abhijit Tawhare 86′) 2 – 0 Karnatak Sporting Association

Also Read: FC Bengaluru United Triumph as Champions of the Revitalized Stafford Cup

Also Read: AIFF Disciplinary Committee rejects Kerala Blasters’ Protest

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