Back in March, Minerva Punjab FC were crowned Champions of Hero I-League bringing the glory days of Punjab Football back after 22 long years whereas The Airmen of Indian Air Force were crowned Champions of Delhi Soccer Association’s Senior Division League after defeating state favourites Hindustan FC in the finals.
Capitalizing on the FIFA World Cup fever in the country, Delhi Football Foundation and IJLC in association with Football Delhi is organised an exhibition match between National Hero I-League Champions Minerva Punjab FC and Delhi League Champions Indian Air Force yesterday at the Ambedkar Stadium, Delhi.
Inspite of the heavy rains that lashed the capital, Over 5000 spectators made their way to the Stadium to witness the one of its kind, Champion of Champions clash along with Top Officers from Indian Air Force made it as chief guest to the exciting clash.
The Cultural programme kicked off with the traditional Bhangra dance followed by the kickOff at 8pm. The much awaited clash began with Indian Air Force winning the toss and deciding to start. Minerva Punjab FC dressed in traditional Dark & Light blue began to thwart the opponents defence from the word go as they managed to break the Airmen’s set piece and ball posession in the play. Local Chandigarh lad Akash Sangwan who was instrumental in the Warriors I-League triumph brought the spectators off their seats in the very 3rd minute when he delivered a pin point cross to fellow teammate Alex in the box, However the Airmen’s custodian Prabhjot averted the danger in time. Within the very next minute Minerva’s latest Japanese import Yu Kuboki saw himself a bit late to tap in Dilliram’s cross from the left just as Prabhjot kicked of the danger again.
The Airmen too were not calm as they made the best of every possible chance they earned, triggering counter attacks from the flanks and breaking the Warriors defence with thru balls from the centre of the park, However Minervan defenders led by Deepak Devrani stood firm and kept the home team at bay. Just as time passed by Japanese Yu Kunoki broke the deadlock in the 18th minute of the game with a sublime finish to mark his first ever goal on Indian soil and announce his arrival in style. The first half however ended with Minerva Punjab FC taking the lead over the Airmen.
The second Half started with Air Force players triggering continues attacks on Minerva Punjab FC’s half but Warriors custodian Vikram displayed a saw dropping performance making some vital saves including a one-on-one with Air Force Skipper Prabjoyt Singh that left the Airmen’s dugout stunned ! However Indian Air Force equalised in the dying minutes of the game (89th minute) to make it 1-1.
The Champion of Champions eventually had to be decided thru a tie breaker that saw Indian Air Force miss 1 of the 5 spot-kick’s and visiting Minerva Punjab FC slotting home all 5 kicks from the dot to emerge victorious and took home a pay cheque of Rs. 20,000 !
We thank the Delhi Football Federation led by Mr. Shaji Prabhakaran (President at Football Delhi – Delhi FA), Mr. Syed Khurram Raza (Gen. Sec. Ahbab Football Club) and those at IJLC for the wonderful opportunity & their initivatives in spreading the beautiful game in Delhi.