It was one of those days that will probably remain etched in Saagar Gandhi’s mind for the rest of his life. The youngster, representing Jamnabai Narsee, Juhu, had not scored a single goal in the two years that he played for his school in the Mumbai Schools Sports Association football competition.
But that changed in the most dramatic fashion yesterday when the 15-year-old midfielder scored the lone goal that saw his team trump the famed Don Bosco, Matunga at the Azad Maidan in the U-16 Division I yesterday.
What’s more, the victory also helped Jamnabai draw level with the Matunga side at the top of the table with 23 points. Both teams have a game in hand and needless to say the race to the prestigious title will now go down to the wire.
Nevertheless, Don Bosco will take heart from the fact that they are ahead on goal difference. “I could not have asked for anything better. Scoring my first MSSA goal, that also in a crucial game against Bosco, was really unexpected,” said Saagar who studies in Class X.
He thanked his tuition teacher and parents for backing him throughout. “Last year I couldn’t play a single game because of my tuitions, but this year I convinced my teacher to allow me to play as this is my final year in school,” he said.
Dr Jaywant Mane, head of the physical education department at Jamnabai Narsee lavished praise on his boys for their first victory over Bosco’s. “We were all geared up for the match as we had no option other than just winning. I am happy that the boys didn’t succumb to pressure. Hope we go on to win the title.”
Don Bosco coach Leslie Machado, meanwhile, was disappointed with the loss. “Losing a match at such a crucial stage is really disappointing. We could have easily won the title today. But you can’t win everyday,” he said.
In another match, St Francis D’Assisi, Borivli beat St Anne’s, Malad 1-0 and are placed third with 21 points. Don Bosco take on St Stanislaus, while the Juhu school play St Anne’s, Malad in the last league match tomorrow.
Boys U-16-I: Campion School, Colaba 1 (Aldrich Fernanades) beat St Stanislaus, Bandra 0; St Dominic Savio, Andheri 0 drew with Bombay Scottish, Mahim 0; St Lawrence, Borivli 2 (Yash Yadav, Harsh Solanki) beat St Mary’s, Mazagaon 0; St Lawrence, Kandivli 2 (Nehal Shetty, Ishan Rana) beat Christ Church, Byculla 0.
Boys U-16-II S-F: Don Bosco, Borivali 2 (Wayne Trindade, Christopher Fernanades) beat Hiranandani School, Powai 0
Boys U-16-IV-G: Yashodham HS, Goregaon 4 (Viraj Ghag, Aryan Pillai, Nikhil Bansiwal, Yogesh Gupta) beat St Xavier’s Boys Academy, Churchgate 1 (Kiefer Fernanades).