The Sait Nagjee tournament continued to enthrall spectators assembled in the EMS stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala, with matches of thrills and spills. The latest group B tie between the League of Ireland's Shamrock Rovers and the German Bundesliga's TSV Munchen U23s was a seesaw encounter, which the Irish team ran out 3-2 winners after staging a mercurial comeback.
The German's bolted into the lead through two penalties each of which were converted by their skipper Michael Kokocinski, either side of a Gary McCabe equalizer, which was also a spot-kick. However, the Irishmen complimented their first half display by second half strikes from Danny North and Gavin Brennan, to hand the Blacks their first win in the tournament. With this result, the Rovers went level on points with the German outfit at the top of Group B, the latter of whom had already overcome the Argentinian U23 squad and FC Dnipro.
Known as Cumann Peile Ruagairí na Seamróige in their native Ireland, the Rovers made a sweeping number of changes to the sqaud that surrendered to their Ukraine opponents in their opening tie, retaining only Luke Byrne, Patrick Cregg, David O'Connon and Brennan. The Munich-based team, meanwhile, made just a solitary change, with defender Christian Koppel coming in place of Angelo Mayer.
Rovers found themsleves behind early in the game as Daid Webster fould Simon Seferings in the box, forcing the referee to award a penalty. It was converted by Kokocinski, a panenka penalty which foxed Shamrock's custodian Barry Murphy.
TSV Munchen then forced Santosh Kumar to award a spot-kick to the opposition for an off-the-ball incident, which MacCabe converted without much ado. Felix Baschmidt, the man who conceded the penalty, almost single-handedly pulled TSV into the lead, when he astutely skipped past the Irish defense, only to see his tame effort cause no panic for the custodian, with a comfortable save.
However, the Germans soon had their noses in front again when Nicholas Hembrecht was brought down in the box by David O'Connor. Kokocinski again made no mistake with the finish, as the teams headed into the interval with the away side in the lead, in the 29 degree celsius temperature.
The second half began with the same zest as the first, however further spice was added to the tie when North brought the Irish side on level pegging. Despite sterling appeals by the TSV defenders, the striker was adjudged to have been in an on-side position as he equalized, though replays showed the officials had commited a mistake.
Still fuming and seemingly losing their focus, the Germans fell a further goal behind in the 52nd minute. The move, reflective of a trainning gound trick, saw McCabe pass the ball short to North from a freekick, who passed it back to an alert McCabe, who in turn crossed in a delicious fizzer into the box. The lanky Brennan was on hand to convert with a powerful header, as the Irish stormed into the lead.
Despite TSV's best efforts, the deficit couldn't be overturned as the German team crashed to defeat.
The next tie is between FC Volyn Lutsk and Brazil's Atletico Paranaense at 7 PM IST.