IMJA FC: COTIVITI FUTSAL TOURNAMENT 2019

September 07, 2020

IMJA FC: COTIVITI FUTSAL TOURNAMENT 2019

Being one of the favorite teams to win the Cotiviti Futsal Tournament 2018, our team – Pandas won a game, lost 3 games in a row, and drew a final league game which made us stand in the fourth position. All those training and hard work were not enough to win the title of the tournament. At that moment, my dreams seemed to vanish right in front of my eyes.

Fast forward to some months after the 2018 tournament – I had been working out, played football four times a week, and trained hard for the 2019 tournament after losing it last year; it was then that led my determination to set my soul on fire, I was very focused.

When the next tournament kicked off, I was chosen as one of the playing managers (Player and Manager) by the organizers. I was happy to select my teammates, however, I could not get the players I chose because all the players were distributed equally within eight teams with two groups – Group A and Group B. Nevertheless, I could form a team with young and energetic members, and we were known as IMJA FC.  We trained hard; however, we were not much confident as our team did not have much experience.

Furthermore, after the fixtures were released, we had an opening match with my last tournament manager – Pasa dai’s (Pravinda Ranjit) team and they were one of the toughest competitors for the game. Along with the release of the fixtures, everyone received their jerseys, the tournament ground was finalized, and all the prizes and banners for the tournament were also ready; overall preparation went as per planned.

6th July 2019 – The day everything began. I had dehydrated myself before reaching the tournament venue and prepared myself for the game. As soon as the first match of the Cotiviti Futsal Tournament 2019 began, our teammate Subash scored a goal right after the first 2 minutes. After some time, the referee blew the whistle for half time and we were leading by 1 – 0. At the beginning of the second half, our opponent scored a goal and we both had a one-all draw. Likewise, we had a couple of more chances but could not convert it into the frame.

Finally, at the 25th minute, Subash scored again and gave us a lead. However, right after 2 minutes of being on the lead, we were back at 2 – 2. With 3 minutes remaining in the game, we tried our best to get a lead and started to attack forward, but all our efforts were blocked. Nevertheless, at the final minute I got a one-on-one chance with the keeper, I shot the ball into the corner, however, unfortunately, it hit the pole which was then always stuck at the back of my mind throughout the week.

Karnali Blues

2 – 2

Imja FC

3

Total shots

9

3

Corners

10

8

Fouls

1

5

Saves

4

 

            13th July 2019 – The next team was better at defense. Getting a draw in our previous match with just 1 point disappointed us, which prepared us for this match, and this time we chose attack formation. The match began, and we conceded a goal in just 2 minutes. We started to attack our opponents, however, again got conceded with another goal in the 8th minute. We were already 2 goals behind and were pressuring the opponents with our attack formation. Finally, our teammate Saurav broke a deadlock right before the half time and we were 2 – 1.

            During the half time, we planned and changed our strategy and had 3 strikers to get on the level. All our shots were easily defending by our opponent’s keeper. The opponents were stronger than we imagined, after around 20 minutes, we were at 4 – 1. We pressured them and did our best to score, but their keeper was too good. At stoppage time, Kshitiz, our teammate scored a goal and the match ended at 4 – 2 which was a huge loss for us to qualify for the knockout stage with a game in hand.

Imja FC

2 – 4

Narayani Gators

16

Total shots

12

2

Corners

0

3

Fouls

1

10

Saves

14

 

I was very sad after the loss. All my hope and dreams seemed blurry just like in last year’s finals; I could not score a point like in last year’s tournament. However, I did not let myself feel down, I still motivated myself for the next game.

During weekdays, we made sure to get enough training for the next final game of the league. To qualify for the knockout stage, we had to win by a margin of 2 goals. We had prepared certain tactics and decided to implement all our enhancements in our gameplay to reach the semis.

20th July 2019 – We were feeling the pressure and were anxious. All we could think of was getting a win by at least a margin of 2 goals, whereas, for our opponent, a draw was enough for them to enter the semis. I was furious at the same time. After warming up, the opponent won the toss and chose the field, whereas we started the game by taking the kick-off. We started with a little passing and dribbling; as soon as the referee blew the whistle, Subash passed me the ball, and I passed it to Saurav who again passed it back. I then dribbled the ball past two defenders and shot the ball and it was a goal. I was shocked and amazed at the same time trying to realize I scored a point within the first 20 seconds of the first half. All my teammates were delighted as it was a much-needed goal and that too in the early period of the match. This really helped in boosting the confidence level of my team. We had faith after that one score.

After 3 minutes of 1 – 0, a beautiful pass from Kshitiz was converted into another goal by Subash and we were leading by 2 – 0, which boosted the level of hunger in us for more points and energized us. Moreover, right after 3 minutes of our second goal, Kshitiz hit a screamer and turned it into a goal and we were ahead with 3 – 0 at half time.

After the short break, we had planned on some strategies to play defensive as we were leading with 3 points. The opponent started attacking us and we were all playing defensive. All the players were upfront, and they received a freekick right outside the D-area which hit the wall, and suddenly, we scored again on a counterattack. After a minute of leading with 4 – 0, I made a long-range shoot and again scored a goal, leading my team with 5 – 0. The crowd was cheering and surprised as well, as we had less chance to qualify for the semis. We were confident played the football beautifully among ourselves.

Furthermore, at the stoppage time, I assisted Subash which resulted in 7 – 0, 2 goals within few minutes, turning it into the first hattrick of the tournament. Finally, the final whistle blew as we qualified for the semis.

Imja FC

7 – 0

Rhino FC

18

Total shots

8

12

Corners

1

7

Fouls

1

3

Saves

11

 

We were very much relieved to have gotten a place into the semis and were delighted until we realized our opponents to be The Tsho Tandav, who happened to be a very strong team and was everyone’s favorite. However, we remained calm and watched their match after our match was over. We tried to study their weaknesses to form our game plan accordingly.

            On weekdays, we trained on enhancing our defending skills and implemented our strategy and man-marking certain opponent players. Our focus was stopping their playmaker to play his cards, and we had even trained ourselves to mark the playmaker to make the opponents lose the possession of the ball.

            27th July 2019 – ‘Just a game to reach the finals, just a win behind to make it to the finals’, were the thoughts going on in my mind. We were all confident by the last 7 – 0 victory and our spot in the semis and were very focused on winning more possession on the ball. We reached the ground, warmed up, and were ready for the game. Meanwhile, the opponent showed a different lineup than what we were expecting which worried us a bit, however, did not lose our confidence.

            We won the toss and chose to kick-off first and the referee blew the whistle of the first semis of the Cotiviti Futsal Tournament 2019. We were playing defensive, whereas they had all the control over the ball. They created many chances to score but our goalkeeper blocked each of their tries. The game was intense; both teams were attacking the other and created many chances to score, however failed to convert it into a goal. After a few minutes, the opponents shot the goal directly from a throw-in but was ruled out by the referee as it was not allowed as per the rules. We were relieved immediately and were determined to not miss any opportunities.

            After 10 minutes, Saurav intercepted the ball and quickly showcased his passing skills to Subash who converted the pass into a goal, and we led by 1 – 0. We all felt joyous, but the game was still on. After a few minutes, the referee blew the whistle as the first half was over differentiating the two sides by Subash’s goal.

            In the second half, we changed our mindset and played defensively. Our opponents were all straightforwardly attacking and testing our keeper, but our keeper Suman was confident and in good form; he did not let any ball pass past him. Few minutes since the start of the second half, I hit a screamer and turned it into a goal, and we had a breathing space after a 2 – 0 lead in the semis. After 3 minutes in the game, Kshitiz again scored another goal in a counterattack, after which we were confident to book our place in the Cotiviti Futsal Tournament 2019 finals. We were just a few minutes away from the final whistle, and again the opponents’ attacking play paid them, as I scored the goal in the 28th minute with a beautiful assist by Subash during the counterattack. In addition, Kshitiz again scored another goal at the stoppage time with the assist of Subash, and we won the match by 5 – 0, and made it to the finals!

            We were completely amazed by the result; we were proud of ourselves with our improved results. Despite being an underdog in the tournament, we managed to reach the finals by scoring as many goals as possible and displaying a beautiful football.

Imja FC

5 – 0

The Tsho Tandav

14

Total shots

17

5

Corners

6

7

Fouls

1

13

Saves

5

 

            We were so delighted that we started dancing and celebrating as we made it to the finals. For me personally, getting a spot in the finals was already a victory; it was like a dream come true. Likewise, the second finalist turned out to be Tilicho United which had not lost any game in the tournament, and so they turned out to be a tough opponent for us.

            3rd August 2019 – The final day, the day I dreamt about the most, the day for which I had trained hard all this time, finally arrived. Just another 40 minutes and another victory that would lead us to become renowned as the winners and won the trophy of the Cotiviti Futsal Tournament 2019. We were well trained and confident; we also enjoyed each of our training and game-planning sessions during the weekdays. I ate healthy and drank enough water to stay hydrated for the finals, a day before. Our match was in the end, so we had to wait till then to refresh and warm ourselves up. Everything we had prepared for needed to be showcased in this final match.

            The referee blew the whistle for the Cotiviti Futsal Tournament 2019 Finals. We kicked off the ball and it was under our control for the first 5 minutes. We had enough chances but could not convert it into a goal. The game was underway and a slipped pass from our teammate Rupesh led to concede a goal in the 8th minute. We started becoming aggressive after this, trying a long-range shot but all of them were blocked by the opponent defenders. At the 11th minute of the game, Saurav stole the ball from the opponent on the right and passed it to me in the mid-range and I hit the ball with full strength which the goalkeeper tried to block but failed to, and we were back at 1 – 1. All of us were relieved to get on equal points at that moment. However, both the teams were trying hard to take a lead now, but all the attempts were out of the target.

            At the 20th minute, Suman (GK) passed the ball to Rupesh which was then passed to me, I passed it to Saurav which he again passed it back, and I shot the ball and again, it was another score as the opponent keeper could not eye the ball and for the first time, we took the lead by 2 – 1 right before the referee blew the whistle declaring half time. During the short break, we planned strategies to attack in the game rather than playing defensively.

            We had the lead and had control over the ball when the second half kicked off. Right after the first 3 minutes of the second half, the opponents were able to score another goal due to some confusion regarding our teammates, and we were back at 2 – 2. Both the teams pressured each other, both tried their best to attack and score, however, failed to. After a few minutes, they scored another goal in the 27th minute and took the lead by 3 – 2. At this point, we were hopeless and demotivated by seeing them turn the game completely in just a few minutes. But still, we tried to score by attacking but could not level the game around until the last 5 minutes of the match.

            After a pass from Saurav, at the 35th minute, I dribbled the ball to the left side and shot with my left foot and it went in at the left side of the goal post and we were back with 3 – 3. And after a minute of being on the same level as the opponent, we got a free-kick right at the center of the ground. I pushed all my defenders forward so that I could give a fine cross and we finally took the lead; I played the free-kick and the ball went to the top right corner which was my dream goal for my entire life, and we were at 4 – 3!

For a moment, I thought I was dreaming. I scored 4 goals in the finals, including a dream goal and we were just a few minutes away from winning the tournament. All of our hard work, training, teamwork, were all seen in the game. Moreover, we were only a minute away from the victory when Subash made another score, and we won the finals in the most dramatic way with 5 – 3, which will always be in our memories.

Imja FC

5 – 3

Tilicho United

17

Total shots

16

8

Corners

2

9

Fouls

7

17

Saves

7

 

            As soon as the referee blew the final whistle, I was amazed and speechless; it felt like my joy and excitement were out of this world, my dream finally came true! All of my efforts paid off. The journey we had throughout the tournament, the comebacks, the win, all of the teammates, defenses, attacks, everything will forever be in my mind. It is a part of my life which I will cherish forever.

Jai IMJA FC!

‘I smile every time I think about the journey from being an underdog team in the group stage to wining the Cotiviti Futsal Tournament 2019. Losing the second game of the tournament and being at the bottom of the table, everyone was convinced only a miracle would take us to the next round as we were to play a must-win game at the group stage to qualify for the next round. Miracles do happen I guess, we had faith and worked hard to achieve it; we not just got qualified for the next round, but we went on to win the tournament playing one of the most dramatic finals. The whole tournament was a rollercoaster ride and one of the best memories I have here at Cotiviti.’ – Sudeep Sharma (RB)

‘Winning the tournament was an extraordinary feeling. The odds were very less for us to even reach the finals being the underdogs. However, we made it to the finals and won the whole tournament! I felt invincible at the moment and I was glad to be heavily involved in our journey to the top. All the team members worked very hard to lift the trophy. I will forever treasure this memory.’ – Saurav Rimal (RM)

‘As soon as the final whistle blew, I said to myself, ‘Yes, we did it!’ I looked around me and everyone was running here and there shouting and celebrating. The feeling was so amazing as if I was flying in the sky, and we finally achieved our goal. Jai Imja FC!’ – Subash Manandhar (CF)

 

IMJA FC – Team

Sumit Shrestha (Captain), Subash Manandhar, Saurav Rimal, Kshitiz Bista, Niraj Manandhar, Rabin Khatiwada, Prashant Shrestha, Rupesh Maharjan, Sudeep Sharma, Ram Limbu, Toya Raj Joshi, Suman Shrestha (GK), Shreedhar Acharya