TFA win on pitch, Minerva on plaint

September 29, 2018, Chandigarh

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Despite losing 1-0 to Tata Football Academy (TFA) in the quarterfinals, Minerva Punjab FC moved into the semifinals of the Administrator’s Challenge U-17 All-India Football Championship after the organisers found the Jamshedpur outfit guilty of playing overage players and disqualified them.

Beaten by a last-minute goal from Nikhil, Minerva filed a complaint against Tata Football Academy for fielding two overage players. Their complaint was upheld by the organising committee after five hours of brainstorming and as a result the side was promoted to the semifinals.
As per sources, one of the TFA players, who had earlier represented Neroca FC, had tampered with his date of birth record.

“The player has tampered with his date of birth. After receiving the complaint, the facts were cross checked by Chandigarh Football Association and the UT Sports Department with the All India Football Federation and the player was found to be guilty. Subsequently, Tata Football Academy was disqualified. A two years ban has also been imposed on the side,” said District Sports Officer Ravinder Singh.

Minerva FC will now face Ideal Youth’s Association Football Club in the semifinal. The Manipur outfit drubbed Delhi’s Sudeva Football Academy 6-0 in the quarterfinals.

TFA coach Akshay Das, meanwhile, questioned Minerva’s tactics and said they had a habit of doing such things after losing a crucial match. “We won the match on pitch and we are happy with the result. Both teams were even in all aspects. They were better at politics and we were better at play. Last year, Minerva had won the title using the same method, while before that when questions were asked of them there were no answers,” said Das.

“Why the match was not played under protest or for that matter facts were submitted during the league stage? I think the organisers should consider these facts. This is not sportsmanship,” he added.

Organisers on back foot

The questions are also being raised at the oragnisers ability to weed out the cheats and provide a level playing field for all the participants.

Before the start of the tournament, the Sports Director had said they would do everything to check such incidents, and players had been even subjected to age verification tests. Seventeen footballers were also barred following the tests.

“We cannot do anything. Every team has some flaw or the other. Either we shut the championship or change the rules for conducting age verification tests,” said a member of the organising committee.

According to sources, there are good number of footballers playing in various teams who had submitted date of birth certificates issued in 2013. “There is no record before that,” said a source.

“We just considered the report by the panel of doctors. Those in doubt were sent for the age verification examination. We have adopted all methods to find overage players,” claimed Dr Davender, who conducted the initial verification on the players.

CFA in semis

Meanwhile, in the remaining quarterfinals matches of the day, Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) drubbed Kuljeet Football Academy, Amritsar, 6-0. Shabby Khan, Napolean, Pawan, Amandeep, Gobindass and Lovepreet scored a goal each for CFA.

Double standards?

In the previous edition also, Minerva after losing to Cordia Football Club, Fathegarh Sahib, in the semifinals has lodged a similar complaint and after due verification their claim was upheld by the organisers and they were given entry into the final, while Cordia Football Club had been barred. Interestingly, the organisers acted slow upon the complaint filed by Youngsters Club against Minerva FC for allegedly fielding overage players during the 2016 edition of the tournament and the aggrieved club is still awaiting reply from the UT Sports Department.

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