Indian Super League franchise FC Pune City's U-19 team defeated Mohun Bagan 3-0 at the Mariners' club ground on Sunday afternoon to win the 121st edition of IFA Shield. Gani Ahmed Nigam scored twice while substitue Balkar Singh scored the third goal for the away team.
The prestigious tournament, which has lost its glamour over the years, had been restructured to be made a U-19 tournament three seasons ago and the lack of quality competitions for the youth teams has made it one of the most looked after cups in the domestic calendar.
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Pune City, led by their 27-year old Spanish coach Roger Lamesa Grau, impressed throghout the tournament . Gani was the star of the campaign, having scored the winners in the club's 1-0 wins versus Tata Football Academy (TFA) and Bagan.
In the summit clash, Pune got the lead through the striker, who slotted home from close range after being fed from the right by Omega Vanlalhruatulanga. He doubled the lead a few minutes later, converting a penalty-kick. Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Sanjay Bhattacharya conceded a poor goal as substitute Balkar's weak strike went into the net through his legs.
Pune City, who had bought the Pune FC youth set-up, is widely regarded as the strongest ISL youth team, though the Red Lizards will also a fair share of credit of their showing. This is the club's second trophy in last one month, having won the Goa Super Cup in May.
Mohun Bagan's barren run in this season continued though, as they once again fell behind in the last lap, having finished second best in I-League and Federation Cup earlier this season. "Missing easy chances have been trademark in the Shield and today it finally came to haunt us," Jo Paul Ancheri, the former India national team regular who is now the coach of the Green and Maroon brigade, told reporters after the match.