Leon Menezes

Leon Menezes

The Mumbai District Football Associations' season-opening tournament was held on 14th & 15th August 2018 and 16 teams from the Super and Elite Divisions participated. And as usual it was packed with nail-biting encounters with the teams putting up excellent performances.

The Mumbai Strikers were on a roll as they breezed away into the semi-finals to face UBI who ultimately halted a wonderful run. The Strikers beat the likes of CFCI U19 which is listed in the Super Division of the MDFA and Century Rayon from the Elite Division. The results were derived from a penalty shootout with MS custodian Abhishek Singh pulling off three penalty saves against Century Rayon in the quarter finals.

The semi-final was setup against Union Bank of India, who finished third in last seasons Elite Division league. The score was 0-0 in regulation time and it needed a shootout to decide who will step into the finals of the Independence Cup 2018. MS missed out on the final spot yet again as they failed to convert one of the five shots, while UBI netted all of them.

While the jinx is yet to be broken, MS were the only semi finalist team from the last edition that qualified for the semi-finals again in this edition. MS made its debut Independence Cup appearance in the last edition and have consecutively reached the semi finals on both occasions. This being the opening tournament of the season, MS will now focus on the Elite Division league which is scheduled to start in October this year. They will look at putting on an improved performance compared to last year’s 9th place finish.

Having won their last two games, MS secured a spot in next year’s Elite Division season. With 11 points on the board and sky high confidence, the Strikers looked to end the season on a high against PIFA Colaba on April 8th at the Cooperage Stadium.

Major changes were seen as MS striker Ravish D did not feature in the playing eleven and Arsalan H also did not start. Defender Manthan M was also rested for this one. The game began at a slow pace with both teams taking their time to settle as it was a very warm afternoon. MS kept possession of the ball for the most of the first half. However, it was not very productive as PIFA tried to press them right up and tried to create chances. Just before the break, one such chance was converted by a thunderous effort by the PIFA midfielder. MS shot stopper Sumeet S was caught off his line and was only a spectator to the brilliant goal. PIFA led 1-0 at half time.

The second half was much different and MS piled up the pressure with some creative football. However, lack of finishing still played spoilt sport in the game. MS Head coach Sandeep S helped MS pick some pace after introducing Ravish D, Arsalan H and Frenix R into the attack. Few minutes later, MS midfielder Frenix R earned a valuable penalty as his shot was blocked by a defender using his arm. Arsalan H rose to the occasion by converting the penalty to make it 1-1 in the dying moments of the game. While everyone at the stands were thinking the match would end in a draw, PIFA had other plans. In the 93rd minute, PIFA earned a corner and the MS defense was caught napping as one of the PIFA players tapped in the ball to glory. With not a minute remaining, the final whistle was blown and PIFA emerged winners of a match which could have put them in the relegation zone.

MS ends season at the 9th position after recording 11 points in 11 games. A spot in next year’s Elite Division is secure and MS will look to improve this seasons performance the next time.

With three matches to play and 5 points on the board, two weeks ago Mumbai Strikers (MS) were sitting at the bottom of the table and were hot favorites to be relegated as they still had to play experienced Elite Division teams like Maharashtra State Police (MSP), Central Bank of India (CBI) & PIFA Colaba (PIFA). It looked like an impossible feat to accomplish but with victory in the previous match versus MSP, the spirit in the team was at its highest as everyone knew that a win out of the two remaining matches will secure MS its Elite division status for another year.

Mumbai Strikers not only defeated Central Bank of India but also maintained a clean sheet for the second consecutive game. This victory pulls them away from the relegation zone and also guarantees the Strikers a spot in next years Elite Division season.

The Bankers started off well and with some intensity as they are known for tremendous combination play. MS created a few chances at the start but the finishing was not as expected. However, the 44th minute proved to be crucial as MS forward Akshay D clinically slotted one past the CBI keeper. MS midfielder Saurabh Solanki’s brilliant overhead pass beat all lines of defense to find Akshay at the right spot. The break time score read 1-0 in favour of the Strikers.

MS showed resolute defending in the second half as they intercepted many chances of the Bankers equalising. Just when CBI ran out of ideas, MS midfielder Abhishek Bhagat scored another in stoppage time to make it 2-0 after an initial Akash Pawar attempt came off the upright setting up a tap-in for the MS midfielder.

The game was sealed and so was a spot in next years season. It is rare that a newly promoted side remains to see the light of another Elite Division season and MS have achieved it heroically and in superb fashion. With another game in hand against the experienced PIFA, MS will want to record a hattrick of victories to end the season on a high.

MS breathed a sigh of relief as they beat an in-form Maharashtra State Police outfit by a solitary goal scored by midfielder Abhijit Shetty. MS registered their second victory this season and this pulls them out of the relegation zone to the ninth spot.

It was an evenly poised game as both the teams rallied well to get ahead in the game by creating several chances. However, poor conversion of those chances did not really help the scoreline as it was 0-0 at the break.

In the second half, the intensity increased as MS had to grab three points of the encounter. Things changed in the attacking department after the introduction of MS midfielder Melron M. MS picked up pace in the 83rd minute to take the lead through a fantastic first time tap in by midfielder Abhijit S. After the goal, MS kept possession throughout till the final whistle and emerged winners at full time.

MS will now look to capitalise on this victory and maintain the same momentum for the next two games.

Thursday, 01 March 2018 23:45

Mumbai Strikers rue mistakes in loss to UBI

Mumbai Strikers suffered their fifth defeat in their Elite division campaign this year against Union Bank of India (UBI) who are ranked fourth after this win. It was a vital game for the Strikers after having drawn the previous encounter with Kenkre FC.

UBI dictated terms by keeping the ball for most of the first half and created a lot of space in the midfield. A resilient Mumbai Strikers unit thwarted several UBI attacks with some no-nonsense defending. MS had a couple of chances in front of goal that went the wrong way while UBI messed up a few of their own which kept the score at 0-0 till first half.

The second half was pretty much the same with UBI trying to pile on the pressure on the MS defense. MS gave in to the pressure as a miscued pass by MS forward Akshay D set it up well for the UBI striker to slot one past MS goalkeeper Sumeet S. The momentum then changed as MS frantically tried to equalize and came close to scoring on two occasions. In the dying minutes of the game, an error by MS centre back Rakesh P allowed the bankers to score another which sealed the game in their favour.

MS now lie in the relegation zone with 5 points from 8 matches. With three matches to go in the league, MS will look to revamp and work towards scoring some goals as it has cost them highly up to now.

After a brilliant Nadkarni Cup run, MS kept up the momentum in their seventh game of the Elite Division season against Kenkre FC. MS faced a side that has been winless in this season and seemed determined to pick up three points from this one.

It was an evenly poised match with intense transitions throughout the game. MS and Kenkre both came close to scoring on many occasions but did not find the breakthrough. Poor finishing marred the entire game up to the first half and the scoreboard read 0-0.

At the start of the second half, both teams tried to break the deadlock in similar fashion. However, MS forward Akshay D had different plans as he scored an exceptional header off a corner kick and broke his 8 match goal drought. With MS in the drivers seat, all looked good until the 75th minute where Kenkre FC came to level terms with their striker scoring the vital equalizer.

MS and Kenkre FC went home with a point each and leaving them where they were on the league table. MS will look forward to winning all their matches ahead in the league to keep alive their chances of surviving in the Elite Division.

Mumbai Strikers SC were listed in their first ever Nadkarni Cup tournament this year. The 111th Nadkarni Cup Tournament was held at the RCF Grounds Chembur from 6th Feb to 17th Feb 2018. A mixed bag of 16 Super and Elite Division teams participated in the tournament that was played on a knockout basis.

MS were first slotted to play Mumbai Customs on the 9th of February. Considering their 4-1 defeat against Customs in the Elite Division League, the latter stood favourites for this encounter. However, the results had something else to show as MS held Customs to a 0-0 draw in regulation time and knocked them out in the penalty shootout with a score of 4-2. After their first victory, MS were drawn up against Bank of India. The last time MS faced Bank of India, in a competitive game, was last season in the Super Division where MS came from back to win 2-1. Looking to replicate the same performance, MS put their best foot forward and produced a gutsy 0-0 draw in 90 minutes against the Bankers. Going into the shootout, MS emerged victorious yet again with a 4-2 win hence qualifying for the semis against Union Bank of India. MS were in unknown waters as it was their first ever game against UBI and they have to yet clash in the Elite Division League. MS were in hot form in this tournament and by 40th minute were 2-1 up and dominated proceedings until a prolific strike from UBI by end of half time equalised the score to 2-2. Come the seond half, UBI scored their third in the 54th minute to take the lead and it proved to be enough till the end of the game as UBI booked their spot in the finale against Air India.

Overall, a wonderful tournament rally came to an end for the Strikers and now they look forward to replicate the same form and performances in their forthcoming Elite Division league games.

MS were on the receiving end of a 7-0 thrashing by ONGC on February 3rd at the Mumbai Football Arena, Andheri. ONGC recorded the biggest win of the Elite Division season while MS looked at their fourth loss of the season.

MS struggled to gain any control or momentum in the game against a much superior and organised ONGC unit. Despite their victory against Western Railway in their previous match, MS seemed to have lost the plot in this one.

The next step in the season would be the upcoming Nadkarni Cup in which Mumbai Strikers face Mumbai Customs in their first bout on the 9th of February 2018.


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