St Pius X (Mulund) earned promotion to Division II in style with a 3-1 win over Thakur Vidya Mandir (Kandivli) in the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) boys U-16 Division III final at the refurbished Cooperage yesterday.
After a goalless first half, striker Rahul Johny cut through Thakur Vidya Mandir defenders and tapped the ball into the post in the 35th minute. Seven minutes later, the Kandivli outfit's Pankaj Tiwary equalised via a solo effort.
The Kandivli school's happiness was short-lived as Mclean Fernandes scored off a deflection in the 44th minute after Thakur Vidya Mandir's goalkeeper Alok Singh fumbled. In the dying moments, Himanshu Nautiyal scored via a Rahul assist to take the score to 3-1.
The Mulund school which was a name to reckon with in football in years gone by is getting back to its glory days.
Western India Football Association (WIFA) CEO Henry Menezes who watched the match was all praises for his alma mater. "Yes, our school always had a good football team. St Pius had the edge and good ball possession compared to Thakur today. I gave a pep-talk to the team after the semi-final and the final.
"It gives me immense happiness that my school won," said Menezes who used to play in the left back position representing St Pius way back in 1978-80.
Recalling his old days, St Pius coach Carlton D'Souza said, "During our time there were only 32 school teams playing the boys U-16 football. Our best performance was in 1987 when I captained my school to the final but lost to Don Bosco. Today this team has got back the school its lost glory."
Rahul, who scored 11 goals from seven matches, is glad that he will pass out with his head held high. "We couldn't have given our school a better passing-out gift than winning the MSSA title. Initially, we fumbled under pressure. We were cheered by our school students and ex-students who came to cheer for us."
Other result: B-16-III (Third Place): Smt RSB Arya Vidya Mandir (Juhu) 2 (Aahan Mishra, Arindam Mukherjee) bt Hansraj Morarji (Andheri) 1 (Abhishek Valiyakath).