Delhi team’s ‘goal’den chance

Haryana City FC from Delhi emerged as the national champions of this 5-a-side tournament, held in multiple phases at a pan-India level to bring out the best 5-a-side football team.
 Haryana City FC team
Haryana City FC teamPhoto | Express

CHENNAI : The successful conduct of the Khelo India Games and the Prime Volleyball League stand testament to the commendable sports infrastructure in Tamil Nadu. Now, the football facilities were put to test in the finals of the second edition of Road To Old Trafford, organised by Apollo Tyres and Manchester United, which was held in the city with a good fanfare.

Haryana City FC from Delhi emerged as the national champions of this 5-a-side tournament, held in multiple phases at a pan-India level to bring out the best 5-a-side football team. This saw more than 100 teams from different cities participating. The tense final against Gunners FC from Bengaluru went all the way to penalties at HotFut SPR City in Perambur, Chennai. After the match ended in a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time, the team from Delhi maintained their composure during the shootout and triumphed with a 3-2 scoreline.

In the process, Haryana City FC have earned themselves one of the most coveted prizes that any Indian football team can win. The team from Delhi will be getting an unparalleled and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Manchester, UK, for an all-expenses paid trip and play at the legendary Old Trafford stadium, aka The Theatre of Dreams and the home of Manchester United FC. The grand finale of the Road To Old Trafford to choose the ‘Global Winner’ will be held at the iconic stadium on May 31, 2024.

The tournament, in its second edition, was held in a bigger format with the initial round taking place in six cities — Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Kochi, and Chennai wherein the city leg winners faced each other in the national finale, which also took place here. “Honestly, it hasn’t sunk in yet. We were pretty confident of ourselves right from the qualifying round but to compete against some of the best 5-a-side football teams in India and winning the national final of the Road To Old Trafford tournament is exciting. We can’t wait to go to Manchester and play on the historic turf at Old Trafford. It will be a great experience, a huge honour and we thank Apollo Tyres for providing us with this opportunity,” said Pranav Sharma, captain of Haryana City FC.

Several players performed to their potential in the long tournament. There were many tough games too, which propelled the team to perform to its potential. “I can’t point out a single player as such, but our goalkeeper Aleef made the match-winning save with his face, which is commendable. The toughest match would be the final against Gunners FC, as we both had played the whole day in the gruesome heat and the competition was neck to neck,” he said.

The last edition was won by Kalina Rangers of Mumbai. Playing against them was a legendary team comprising former Manchester United star Dimitar Berbatov, treble winners, Wes Brow and Andy Cole, and Indian footballing heroes Renedy Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Robin Singh, and Tanvie Hans. “We have seen some great football and amazing talent across all the six cities where Road To Old Trafford took place this year and I would like to congratulate Haryana City FC who emerged as worthy winners. Their display has been superb throughout the tournament to grab the trophy and the cherished opportunity to play at Old Trafford, which I’m sure will be a great experience for them,” said Remus D’Cruz, head marketing-sports and community engagement, Apollo Tyres Ltd.

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