Matunga lads, champs of previous two editions, confident of defending U-16 title as Mumbai Schools Sports Association’s football season begins today
Don Bosco coach Leslie Machado (left) speaks to the team before their U-16 District Sports Office (DSO) match against Army Public School at the Naigaon Police ground in Dadar yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Don Bosco High School (Matunga) are the strong favourites and will look to reaffirm their superiority in inter-school football as the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) boys U-16 Division-I tournament gets underway at the St Francis D’Assisi High School ground, Borivli, today.
The Matunga boys, who emerged champions in 2019-2020 and 2022-2023, are looking good to complete a hat-trick of triumphs. MSSA did not conduct the tournament in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yohaan Panjuani, 15, one of the key members of the victorious Don Bosco team which retained the Div-I title and also the MSSA Ahmed Sailor knockout tournament last year, is keen to play another significant role in helping the school accomplish a treble. “For the last two months, we have been doing our pre-season training under [coach] Leslie [Machado] sir. We have retained most of our players from last year as only four players have passed out of school. We are pumped up, but not overconfident and will take it one match at a time,” Yohaan told mid-day.
Challenging the Bosco boys will be last year’s runner-up St Stanislaus (Bandra) and losing semi-finalists St Mary’s ICSE (Mazgaon) besides Christ Church (Byculla), Campion School (Cooperage Road) and Bombay Scottish (Mahim) being the other prominent teams in the fray.
Stanislaus skipper Sahil Khan sounded confident despite losing half his side, who have passed out of school.
Stanislaus ready for battle
“Six of us—Simon Cardoz, Elijah Fernandes, Dann Extross, Elron Gurson, Ezikel Gomes and myself—will have to guide the younger players who have entered the team. They are all very talented though and there is good chemistry between us since,” said Sahil, 15, who plays as central defender.
Sixteen teams divided into four groups will compete for top honours with the top two from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.
In the opening match, Don Bosco will face Campion at 2.30 pm after which Scottish face St Mary’s. In the third match of the day, St Joseph’s Secondary School (Malad) take on St Dominic Savio (Andheri).