The first major DU football tournament of 2014 started on 23rd January, the inaugural day of the 7th Akshay Chhibber Memorial Soccer Tournament. St. Stephen’s witnessed a thrilling start to the competition as the hosts defeated their long term rivals Hindu by 1-0. The second match of the day also encountered another similar 1-0 defeat with Sri Venkateswara College managing to scrape a win against the boys from Zakir Hussain.
Preceding kick-off, the chief guest for the event, Revd. Dr. Valson Thampu (Principal, St. Stephen’s College), spoke a few words on upholding the spirit of the game and gave his best wishes to the teams participating.
The inaugural match, St. Stephen’s v/s Hindu has always traditionally been a match of some importance. Supporters from both colleges seemed to be present in plenty, with the energy and the passionate chanting of the fans adding an extra flavour to the game. The only goal of the match, a stunning half-volley from about 25 yards out was scored within the first ten minutes of play by Piyush Khattar. The match also saw a Stephen’s goal disallowed as the assistant referee raised the flag for a foul on the Hindu goalkeeper. Apart from this, another controversial point in the match was a penalty appeal from the Hindu players which was also not given. However, despite what the score line may suggest, Stephen’s were clearly dominant, keeping possession for long spells with a natural rhythmic fluency in their style of passing. The Hindu team, despite having a sturdy defence overall, did not seem to be comfortable with the ball in the opposition half, giving away the ball rather cheaply at times.
This match was followed by another intense battle, with the clear favourites of the tournament, Sri Venkateswara College taking on Zakir Hussain. A fine display of attack and counter attack, Sri Venkateswara finally managed to scrape out a 1-0 victory after a fiercely competitive performance put in from both the sides. The goal finally came from a penalty in the second half with Sachin Kohli calmly converting from the spot to give his team a lead. Despite all the chances created by both sides, the football in the attacking-third of the park was not as impressive as the play in midfield and defence, with both attackers missing clear cut goal-scoring chances. On the whole, an entertaining for the neutrals.
With recognizable football teams such as SRCC, Kirori Mal, Ramjas and Hansraj still raring to go, this tournament only promises to get more competitive and exciting as eliminations start to kick in. A prelude to the Inter-College tournament, the Akshay Chhibber Memorial Soccer Tournament gives us a glimpse of what Delhi University football teams have to offer. Whether it is seen as a wakeup call by some teams, or an opportunity to make a statement by others, what is clear is the fact that the battle for DU footballing hegemony seems to be already up and running!
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