The Chennaiyin FC Under 13 team extended their unbeaten run as they came from behind to draw 1-1 against Roots Football School (RFS) in the U-13 National Youth League final round opener at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) Practice Ground here today. Playing their first competitive match outside Tamil Nadu, the CFC U-13s equalized through Mohamed Liyaakath in the second half after Gambheer B. had given RFS the lead in the first.
A team comprising players only from Tamil Nadu, the CFC U-13s knew the challenge ahead of them was a big step-up from the Chennai zone. And RFS, with a team made up of players from all around the country, dominated the first half, keeping Chennaiyin keeper Amarishwar Reddy extremely busy. The CFC custodian made some important saves to keep RFS out, a double-save off his line particularly impressive.
Chennaiyin’s only real chance in the first period was a Liyaakath shot that went wide as Roots continued to pile on the pressure. And albeit fortuitously, the team from Bengaluru deservingly went ahead in first-half stoppage time. Gambheer’s cross from the right went in off a deflection from CFC skipper Rahul K., as the keeper lost flight of the ball.
Chennaiyin were more of the team that won the Chennai zone with a 100% record in the second-half as they played higher up pitch, not allowing Roots to come forward. All the football was being played in the RFS half as CFC strikers Liyaakath and K. Suriya went close on separate occasions.
The CFC equalizer did arrive on the hour mark when Liyaakath rose the highest to head from a Rahul corner, a thoroughly deserved goal for all their hard work in the second period. It was a special goal for the CFC boys, their first at the national stage, in their debut season. And it was met with huge applause from their parents, who had travelled all the way from Chennai to cheer them on.
The game opened up and became more end-to-end following the goal, as RFS looked to regain the lead. They looked a menace from set-pieces but last-ditch defending from CFC kept them out. At the other end, Liyaakath and Naresh Kumar had half-chances which they didn’t make the most of.
It was honours even at full-time for the Chennaiyin FC U-13s in their first competitive outing against an opposition from outside Tamil Nadu. Their next challenge awaits in the form of Delhi’s Sudeva FC whom they face at the same venue on Tuesday May 1 at 4 PM.
Score: Roots Football School 1 (Gambheer B. 35+2’) drew with Chennaiyin FC U-13s 1 (Mohamed Liyaakath 60‘)