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Salgaocar win Manchester United Premier Cup India finals

December 03, 2008 20:12 IST

Goa's Salgaocar Sports Club beat Raghav Football Club of Gurgaon 2-0 to win the India leg of the fourth (Under-15) Nike Manchester United Premier Cup and earned the right to represent the country in the world finals in Manchester, England.

The Goan side, who lost to the same opponents in their last group match, came up with a vintage performance on Wednesday to emerge winners at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa.

They also became the first team from India to directly qualify for the MUPC world finals without playing the regional finals.

The victorious Salgaocar teamMohun Bagan and East Bengal, who won the India finals in 2006 and 2007, respectively, made it to the world finals after playing the regional rounds.

Last year's winners, St Stephen's Football Academy qualified for the regional round in Malaysia but failed to make it to the world finals.

Salgaocar, winners of the West Zone qualifying tournament, dominated proceedings and could have won the summit clash by a bigger margin. They scored in the 38th and 39th minutes through Quelon Fernandes and Nixon D'Castana, respectively, in the 40-minutes-a-half final.

The Gurgaon boys barely had a clear look at the opposition goal but will return home with heads held high as they made it to the final in their first appearance in the tournament.

Salgaocar's midfielder Brendon Fernandes was adjudged Player of the Tournament.

An elated Salgaocar coach Socorro Vaz said his game plan to use short ground passes paid off and his boys deserved victory in the match.

"I told the boys to play ground passes because they (Raghav) are very strong in the air. My game plan was to hold the opponents in the first half and go all out in the last 10 minutes. But hats off to my boys, they played a superb game," he said.

Salgaocar had beaten defending champions St Stephen's Football Academy, Chandigarh 5-4 via sudden death in a pulsating semi-final earlier in the day after both sides were locked goalless in regulation time.

There was little to separate between Salgaocar and St Stephen's with both playing an open and attacking game though the Goan defence was a bit busier protecting their goal.

Brendon, Nixon Fernandes, Romes Fernandes, Meldon D'Silva and Quelon scored while Amiruddin Shaikh missed the mark for Salgaocar in the tie-breaker.

For St Stephen's, Golmei Marimdun, Suraj Singh, Umakanta and Abhisek Rawat found the target while Samarendra Luwang and Waris Rashid failed to score.

Raghav, the North Zone runners-up, made it to the summit clash after blanking Kalyani Municipal Academy 2-0 with goals from Ravi Kumar (25th minute) and Jaipal (41st).

Sikkim Football Academy were awarded the Fair Play Trophy.

Eight teams made it to the India finals after zonal rounds in the fourth edition of the tournament.

Kolkata clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were barred from the India finals this year for age fudging.

Mohun Bagan were disqualified after three or more of their players were found to be over-age in the East Zone qualifiers in Gangtok (Sikkim) while East Bengal served suspension for the same offence committed last year.

The Under-15 Manchester United Premier Cup, held under the aegis of All India Football Federation, is considered a prestigious age-group meet in the country which allows young Indian boys to showcase their talent at the highest national and international level.