Newcastle and Falcon clinch SIFF honors

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Newcastle FC and Falcon FC Thuwal clinched B and C Division honors, respectively, in the penultimate week of the 18th SIFF-Eastea Champions League Football Tournament at the Ministry of Education Stadium here.

Both the lower division finals failed to rise up to the standard and both were decided by two contrasting but blundering situations. If the C Division final was decided by two touch-me-not decisions for penalties and handing the title to Falcon at 2-1 against a fighting Youth India FC, the much-expected B Division final was won by a tactical Newcastle as ACC B defense, its shaky goalkeeper and undependable defenders, gifted two goals for lack of understanding and co-ordination, thereby losing the match at 2-1.

Earlier, to add spice to the ongoing three-month-long soccer fiesta, exhibition matches were held for veterans. President XI showed no mercy to Secretary XI by blanking them 3-0 in the first match and Treasurer XI made short work of an out of sorts Media XI 2-0. The winners will meet this Friday at 5.30 p.m. as a prelude to the glamorous finals.

After Zuhair spoiled a one-on-one situation against Newcastle goalkeeper Faisal, the rivals slowly took over. Playing under a watchful and uncompromising coach on tactics and hardwork, Saleem, Newcastle plugged the holes with fine position game. If at all any player made a mistake the shouting coach will cry out “man-to-man marking” at every dead-ball situation for throw for any team.

It made things difficult for ACC and it struggled to combine and assert. The frustration led to a misunderstanding between defender and goalkeeper on a loose-ball situation and experienced Shihab nicely beat an onrushing goalkeeper with a nice flick.

Newcastle controlled the game as midfielders, Naufal, Noor and Afsal combined well with Shihab and veteran Shanwaz.

Midway through the second half ACC blundered again. A one-two with goalkeeper and defender right in front of the goal was exploited by an opportunistic Shihab who comforbaly blasted home for a 2-0 cushion.

Now ACC looked like suddenly woken up from its slumber and began attacking. It earned a penalty as Newcastle defender handled the ball and Bahawuddeen converted confidently. At this stage ACC began hitting back, roared by a vociferous crowd. It took Newcastle by surprise and ACC almost leveled when a bullet shot from right by Nishad hit the crossbar and went out. It was the shot of the day.

Shihab of Newcastle was selected as the Player of the Final.

The C Division final between Youth India and Falcon began nicely as both the teams looked matching each other.

However, Youth India took the initiative as midfielders Sherief and Nissar combined well with Mohammed, Rashid and Hatim. Off a move from the middle in the fifth minute Ahmed Mohammed collected the ball at right and relayed it to a waiting striker Rashid in the box to apply the finishing touches.

Youth India was in cruise control but disaster struck them with a penalty when its goalkeeper collided with a forward.

Haaif made no mistake from the dreaded spot to go for the break with honors even (1-1).

In the second half too Youth India conceded another penalty as its forward and Falcon’s defender collided. Haaif again converted cleanly to lead 2-1.

Youth India made a last-ditch effort and attacked well. And it almost equalized when Hatim’s powerful shot grazed the crossbar and went out, killing the dreams of Youth India as well.

Haaif was adjudged as the Player of the Final.

Friday’s matches (Finals from 5.30 pm.): SIFF President XI vs. SIFF Treasurer XI (Veterans), Sporting United A vs. Soccer Freaks Juniors (Div. D) and Sharafiya Trading Zabeen FC vs. ACC B (Div. A).