Sudeva FC and Minerva Punjab will square off in a tantalizing first semifinal of the ongoing U-13 Youth League on Sunday (May 6, 2018) at Barasat Stadium, with both sides seeking to qualify for the final in the inaugural edition of the competition.
Neither team has tasted defeat in this tournament and both have played aggressively during the majority of their matches, so it will be interesting to see how they each approach this showdown. Many believe that whoever wins this one might go on to win the entire thing.
Sudeva is highly favoured following its outstanding group stage performance that racked up all nine points with 15 goals – the highest in the final round – after beating SAI East Zone 2-1, Chennaiyin FC 4-0 and Roots Football School 9-1. Sudeva´s key player Subho Paul leading the charts with six goals in the high scoring final round.
"The semifinal will be very difficult because we will face one of the best teams of this tournament. Minerva Punjab proved themselves during the first round. However, my players are very motivated to qualify for the final. They are all focused on the game." said Sudeva coach Franklin Ojeaga, who incidentally started his coaching career at Minerva Punjab before joining Sudeva in 2016.
On being asked if he feels Sudeva will start the game as favourites, Ojeage states, "Many people rank Sudeva as favourites, but regardless of that perception we have to work hard to ensure it doesn´t get into the mind of the players. This is the knockout stage and it means you have to give your all."
The Delhi-based side have boasted six different goal-scorers at the tournament, more than any other team in the tournament, but they will need to be more ruthless and efficient if they are to beat Minerva Punjab.
That´s easier said than done against an organized and sturdy Minerva Punjab side that has gone from strength to strength throughout the course of the tournament.
Minerva booked their place in the semifinals as Group A champions beating teams such as Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools 3-1, Reliance Foundation Young Champs 5-0 and Aizawl FC 6-0.
Playing the semifinal at Barasat Stadium will also help Minerva Punjab as this will be their seventh match at the venue including the play-off round. Whereas Sudeva plays their first and didn´t get enough time to adapt to the astroturf as there was a Hero 2nd Division League match at Barasat one day prior to the clash.
Regardless, this promises to be a close one which would probably go down the wire. The match will kick-off at 4:00 pm on Sunday.
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