AIFF Media Team
New Delhi, Monday, May 6: As many as 11 teams have made a direct entry into the Final Round of the Hero Sub-Junior League 2018-19 season, with five sides going into the playoff rounds of the tournament.
A total of eight zones were divided into 14 groups. The Maharashtra Zone was divided into three groups, the Kolkata and Bengaluru zones into two, while the Chennai, Delhi, Gujarat and Goa zones got one group each. Meanwhile, the remaining teams were divided across three groups in the Rest of India Zone.
Reliance Foundation Young Champs (24 points) were dominant in Maharashtra Group A, which was played between a total of five teams. They won all eight of their games, finishing a good nine points ahead of the second-placed FC Pune City. RFYC get a direct entry into the Final Round.
Harsh Vadhela was the star of the show for the Mumbai-based side, netting a total of 18 goals in the preliminary stage.
While FC Pune City missed out on qualification to the next round, their neighbours Mumbai City FC (21 points) topped the Maharashtra Zone Group C, to book their spot in the Final Round, along with RFYC.
As per the regulations of the tournament, two of the best-ranked group winners across all the three groups in the Maharashtra Zone would get direct entry into the Final Round. Meanwhile, the third best-ranked group winner will earn a spot in the Playoffs. By dint of these regulations, Youth Soccer Academy from Mumbai, who topped Maharashtra Group B with 17 points, will have to fight it out in the Playoffs.
Moving on to the eastern part of the country, it was somewhat of a disappointment for the two Kolkata giants, who missed out on qualification for the Final Round.
Mohun Bagan will be ruing their missed chances as Southern Samity pipped them by a mere point to finish top of the Kolkata Zone Group A, while KUCT Football Academy dominated Group B of the zone to score double the number of points than their nearest rivals Quess East Bengal.
Down South, Bangalore Youth Football League and Bengaluru FC asserted their dominance over the rest, as they finished top of their Bengaluru Zone Group A and Group B, respectively. Both the sides exhibited a gulf in class when compared to the rest of the teams in their respective groups, winning all their matches.
Chandan Biju of Bengaluru FC stole the show in the South Zone, scoring 10 goals from their eight matches.
In the Chennai Zone, Manglenthang Kipgen of FC Madras has been on terrific form, banging in 31 goals from their eight matches. His efforts helped FC Madras win all their matches to clinch the top spot in the group. Chennaiyin FC also made it through to the Final Round as the second-placed team in the group.
Sudeva have already been crowned kings in the North after they pipped Bhaichung Bhutia Football School by three points.
Over to Goa, Salgaocar booked their spot in the Final Round, having amassed 19 points from eight games. FC Goa qualified in second place after a tally of 15 points in their full set of matches – three ahead of Dempo.
Out west in Gujarat, Baroda Football Academy maintained their unbeaten run, to finish top of the pile and clinch a Playoff spot in the process.
In the Rest of India zone, Parappur FC and FF Academy topped Group B and C respectively, to book their spots in the Playoffs. In Group A, J&K State Football Academy secured the top spot after a dramatic final matchday to qualify on goal difference.
Teams in Final Round:
Mumbai City FC
KUCT Football Academy
Bangalore Youth Football League
Teams in Playoffs:
Youth Soccer Academy
Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools
J&K State Football Academy
Baroda Football Academy