The Chennaiyin FC Under-15 team concluded their 2018-19 Hero Junior League Chennai zone campaign with a 7-0 win over the Chennai City FC U-15s at the FC Madras Arena in Thoraipakkam today. Striker Mohammed Liyaakath starred with a hat-trick while the versatile Rahul K. Manjula netted a brace. Forwards Harsha Vardhan R.S. and Kishore R.A. also contributed with their first goals of the campaign.
The Chennaiyin FC U-15s thus finish in second place in the Chennai zone with 17 points from their eight games, one below FC Madras who finished top with 18 points. As a result, FC Madras receive direct qualification to the final round while Chennaiyin FC will have to fight it out in a play-off round in order to progress to the final round. This was Chennaiyin FC’s fifth clean sheet in eight games, having lost only once in the Chennai zone this campaign. Chennaiyin also had an impressive ten different scorers enroute the play-off round.
The play-off round followed by the final round will be held in Kolkata in a week’s time. Chennaiyin FC’s opponents in the play-off round Group B will be the Rest of India Zone Group A winners (May 13), Thane – Football School of India (third best group winners across the three Mumbai zones) (May 15) and Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) Football Academy (Rest of India Zone Group B winners) (May 17).
If Chennaiyin FC top the play-off round Group B, they progress to Group A of the final round, where they will face Bengaluru’s Stadium Sports Foundation team (May 20), Minerva Punjab FC (May 22) and Imphal’s Birachandra Memorial Sporting Club (May 24).
Chennaiyin FC made two changes to the side that clinched play-off qualification with a 4-1 win over the Raman Vijayan Soccer School U-15s in their previous game. And both were in attack as Yugan S. and K. Suriya made way for Harsha Vardhan R.S. and Mohammed Liyaakath.
The Chennaiyin FC U-15s got off to a flier, making it 1-0 within the opening ten minutes. It was that man Liyaakath, who got on the end of a fortuitous rebound in the Chennai City FC box, to open the scoring for the visitors.
It was all one-way traffic thereon, with Chennaiyin FC making it 2-0 a few minutes later. Chennaiyin FC No. 9 Kishore R.A. received the ball from Caron Kennedy near the center circle, before making an incisive dribble into the Chennai City FC box and scoring a solo goal, his first of the campaign.
Caron Kennedy was the provider yet again, just past the half-hour mark, when he laid the ball off to Harsha Vardhan. The attacker dribbled past three opponents and finished with aplomb to triple Chennaiyin FC’s lead.
There was a further flourish just before half-time, as Liyaakath completed his hat-trick with a quickfire double. The Chennai-born striker found the back of the net after being assisted by skipper Deepak Thapamogar and Caron Kennedy respectively, the latter also racking up a hat-trick of assists. Liyaakath thus concluded his Chennai zone campaign with six goals, top-scoring for Chennaiyin FC.
After the break, it was more of the same from the Chennaiyin boys, who relentlessly came at Chennai City FC. Rahul K. Manjula made it 6-0 in the 54th minute from defender Taufiq Ahamed’s cut-back.
Liyaakath and his fellow attackers continued to create several opportunities thereafter but were wasteful in front of goal. Chennaiyin FC’s final goal in the Chennai zone this season eventually came through Rahul again, the versatile defender finishing off a team move to notch his third goal of an impressive campaign, having been promoted from the Chennaiyin FC U-13s.