By Mihik Agrawal
It was set to be a David versus Goliath contest. Jwalamukhi, the defending champions and perennial title favourites, up against Satpura, a team who had defied all odds to make it here, akin to Leicester City in the Premier League,
and didn’t even make the semis last year. Eventually the quality of Jwala’s Galacticos: Anil Rana, Adwait, Manoj, Bunny proved too strong for the Satpura resilience, as Jwala lifted the trophy yet again.
Massive support had gathered for both teams as the match began, with vociferous cheering and anti-cheering in full flow. The quality of both teams were evident, with slick passing moves right from the first minute. Satpura stunned the Jwala crowd into silence in the 8th minute with an opening goal. Hitesh Khatri played a fantastic cross over the defence to Sandeep, who controlled it well and then volleyed the ball into the goal. Jwala tried to respond immediately, Manoj’s fiery shot saved well by Shrey with a foot. Meanwhile, the Satpura crowd had become so jubiliant, that play was stopped by the referee to warn Jwala’s contingent after they tried to respond with lewd chants! Satpura defended well there on, not allowing Jwala an inch of space. Jwala’s aggression finally paid off in the 25th minute, when “Waynil” Rana fired a bullet header into the net from a good corner by Manoj.
3 minutes in the second half, Satpura nearly got back their lead. Harsh laid the ball for Hitesh, who went in with pace on the left flank to cut it back for Sandeep, who didn’t connect with the ball. The counter attack by Jwala left Manoj one-on-one with Shrey, who bravely got out to tackle and win back the ball. Manoj was proving a menace, with his nutmegs and tricks baffling the defenders, and delighting the Jwala support. It was he who scored the title winning goal in the 51st minute, with a magnificient free kick from the right corner of the box, which curled out of the reach of Shrey into the top left corner. Jwala played out the last few minutes calmly, passing and holding the ball before the referee blew for one last time, and the overjoyed Jwala fans grabbed the trophy themselves and poured onto the pitch.
The scenes after the match were of pure joy; Adwait and Manoj being thrown in the air by their fellow hostel mates, while the resounding screams of “Jai Jwala” could be heard all over the institute. The Satpura camp was deflated, but the players must be proud of themselves for making it so far and putting in a spirited performance. Jwala also bag 10 points to make them contenders for the GC trophy, while Satpura also 7. It was a memorable end to a spectacular tournament.