By I-League Media

KOLKATA: Salgaocar FC, the topper from group B of the final phase, took on the runners up from group A, Tata Football Academy, at the Howrah Stadium in the second semi final of the U-18 I-League 2015-2016. Eventually, the Tata boys came out on top, thanks to a fine brace from the skipper Shaikhom Ronald Singh. They set up a summit clash against holders AIFF Academy on 10th February, 2016.

Tata Football Academy kicked off the proceedings and seized early control as midfielder Billu Teli and Abhishek Nair dictated the game. TFA made early advancements down the left flank via left winger Vishal Das. Seineo Kuki and Ronald Singh combined well for the Tata outfit to cause some trouble with their pace but Salgaocar FC centre back Daniel Gomes thwarted them on five different occasions. At the half-an-hour hour mark, Liston blazed a long range free kick as the Goan side had lion’s share of the ball. At half-time, both the teams were on same balance although they could have found the opening goal in quite a few occasions.

It was a mistake from Sanson that allowed TFA captain Ronald Singh to poke his team ahead in the 47th minute. The goal did not affect Salgaocar much as they kept holding the ball well as Denil Rebello and Kaushik Negi fed the forwards Aldrich Coelho and Liston Fernandes. Liston Fernandez had a great chance to restore parity when he got a set piece right on the edge on the penalty. The resulting free kick went over the bar though to be fair to TFA custodian, Rafiq Ali Sardar had it well covered. Salgaocar FC left a few spaces at the back which was brilliantly utilised by Ronald Singh who went on a scintillating run down the right and fired home his second of the afternoon at the near post to double their lead. There was a heart stopping moment when VIjay Kumar from TFA and Aldrich from Salgaocar FC had a nasty clash of heads in the middle of the park. Vijay received two stitches on the back of his head and came out at the end of the game to greet his teammates.

After the end of the game, Lee Walshaw, the head coach of TFA sounds optimistic about building a team for the future, “We are not looking to win. We are looking to build a team for the future. The boys are playing for each other. We want all of them to grow up and be successful in future. As I said, it is a continuous process and if we manage to win a trophy or two it will be the icing on the cake.”

The two semifinals have thus been completed and just two more games to go for this edition of the U-18 I-League. Aizawl FC will face off against Salgaocar FC for the 3rd place play off on Tuesday at Howrah Stadium. It will be a mouth watering clash where AIFF Academy will go up against Tata Football Academy in the grand finale one day later.