Al Aqsa College, Kinniya stunned the much-fancied St. Peter’s College, Colombo 4-3 at St. Peter’s College Grounds in the opening week fixture of the U18 Division I Schools’ Football Championship.
Zahira College dominated play as they triumphed 4-1 against ……
Peterites led by national poolist Shabeer Razooniya came in as the favorites with home ground advantage and with a much formidable outfit with several senior players in their ranks while Al Aqsa College, 2017 U18 Division II champions, was making their debut appearance in the top division.
In the 3rd minute of the game a free kick was awarded to Al Aqsa 35 meters out. Al Aqsa captain Mohamed Rohan took the free kick and lobbed the ball towards the Peterite goal. Peterite custodian Mohamed Ahnaaf misjudged the ball and let the ball over his head to the empty goal much to the dismay of the home team and supporters.
After this shock the Peterites slowly got their game together and started making in-roads to the opposition goal. The first chance for the Petes came in the 8th minute when Razooniya sent in a delightful cross in from the left flank, which only needed a simple touch, was scuffed by the forwards.
Momentum was with the home team where they started to be more potent in attack and was controlling the midfield exchanges. More opportunities were created by the Peterites but was missing the killer pass.
Mohamed Akeel missed a golden opportunity in the 27th minute where he hit the side netting from a through ball from A. Praveen.
Al Aqsa made them pay immediately as a defensive error once again paved the way for a breakaway goal. Peterite full back D. Rony scuffed an easy pass to this team mate ended up gifting the ball to Mohamed Nimry who dribble a good 20 meters, and the goalkeeper glued to the goal line gave him ample time and space to pick his spot and slot home.
With the Peterites looking at each other for moral and divine support to restore parity, Al Aqsa boys were buoyed by their early two-goal cushion.
In the 35th minute Al Aqsa defense was up in the opponent’s half for a corner, the ball broke loose from the right flank where M. Dirckze cleared with a juggling act caught the Al Aqsa players on the wrong foot. L.I. Athukorala worked the ball and sent Mohamed Ihsan through to slot home the first goal for the hosts.
A glimmer of hope turned even better for the Peterites when Mohamed Farsath handled the ball inside the penalty box which gave the Petes a penalty. Ihsan obliged with the second for him and the Peterites.
All seem settled for the home team just before lemons when Akeel finished another through ball to make the score 3-2 in favor of the home team.
Half Time – St. Peter’s College 3 – 2 Al Aqsa College
The beginning of the second half showed some excellent passing by the hosts and a bullet of a shot from Praveen which cannoned off the post keeping Al Aqsa in the game. Both teams were in a seesaw battle for the possession with the Petes having more of the ball and Al Aqsa going for through balls.
At the hour mark both sets of players were seen getting cramped and tired with several injuries making it a stop start affair. Surprisingly Peterite playmaker Razooniya was also seen dropping deeper to the defensive position due to fatigue.
St. Peter’s College managed to hold off Zahira College……
With St. Peter’s star man in the wrong half, gave Al Aqsa much needed ball and they forced the error out of the Peterite skipper who was penalized for handling the ball in the penalty area. In the 70th minute Mohamed Rohan scored from the spot to level the game at 3 each.
For the surprise of many Razooniya was then substituted with 15-year old G. Rivaldo who was thrown in to the midfiled.
As the game went in to the last 10 minutes Peterites put in more bodies searching for a winner with barrage of attacks only for the disappointing final ball. Al Aqsa custodian stood strong in the goal preventing crosses reaching their targets. The visiting defenders were solid at the back with some hard tackles at their opponents.
Hard work at the back paid off for the Kinniya boys in the 85th minute with another defensive mishap by the Peterites gave the ball to Mohamed Fahath. He obliged with the winning goal sending the away supporters into a frenzy. Peterites still had one more chance left, however like the previous chances they were unable get the final shot on target.
Full Time – St. Peter’s College 3 – 4 Al Aqsa College
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Mohamed Rohan (Al Aqsa College)
St. Peter’s – Mohamed Ihsan 35’ & 37’, Mohamed Akeel 43’
Al Aqsa College – Mohamed Rohan 03’ & 70’, Mohamed Nimry 29’, Mohamed Fahath 85’
Al Aqsa College – Mohamed Rohan 75’s