AIFF Media Team
GOA: Minerva Punjab FC rode on two second-half strikes from Makan Winkle Chothe and Thoiba Singh to register a thumping 2-0 victory over FC Pune City to lift their maiden Hero Elite League 2018-19 silverware.
While Makan Chothe (59′) exploited a defensive lapse of FC Pune City to break the defence whereas Thoiba Singh (67′) doubled the lead from a freekick to take the match away from the lads from Pune.
Having won the Hero Elite League 2018-19, Minerva Punjab FC are the current holders of all the National championships comprising of Hero I-League, Hero Sub-junior League (U13 age group), Hero Junior League (U15 age group) and Hero Elite League (U18 age group).
It was FC Pune City who had their shot on target in the 2nd minute when Laldawngkima’s header was brilliantly saved by Minerva goalkeeper Devansh from a stone-throwing distance before Minerva skipper Shahjahan seeing his long-ranger going out of bounce in the 8th minute.
FC Pune City attacker Lelsemba had an effective game keeping the defenders on their toes throughout. The youngster made an impressive run from the middle but his resulting shot was too weak to unsettle the Minerva goalkeeper Devansh Singh in the 43rd minute.
At the stroke of the half-hour mark, Zothanpuia’s freekick was parried away by Devansh once again. Off the rebound, Nikhil Prabhu tried to poke it but missed the target by a whisker.
After the changeover, both teams showed more urgency to break the deadlock but eventually, it was the Punjab-based side who could hit the back of the net a minute before the hour-mark.
On a long throw-in, Shahjahan lobbed it to an onrushing Chothe who outran the two defenders to smash it home and put his team in the driver’s seat in the 59th minute.
8 minutes later, Thoiba nailed the final one in FC Pune City’s coffin from a superbly-executed freekick to stun the Pune lads completely.
Although they tried their levelbest to break the Minerva resilience until the final whistle, their efforts were staved off constantly by Minerva to clinch the silverware.
Along with the coveted trophy, Minerva Punjab FC won prize money of INR 5 lac whereas runners-up FC Pune City were handed a cheque of INR 1.5 lac.