B D Narayankar
PUNE: Fatima XI provided the expectant crowd at Chandrashekhar Agashe ground plenty to cheer about as they eased past National Defence Academy (NDA) Youth Club by a brace in the inaugural match of the Vahatuk football tournament here on Friday. Playing in wet and sticky conditions, the white devils (Fatima) began their game at a leisurely pace. They were content to indulge in a sleek passing game in their own backyard. After Viren D’Souza and Sanu Jacob failed to find the target with their early efforts, Vijayan Arland brought the motley fans to their feet in the 15th minute with a cracking header that NDA goalkeeper did well to palm it way.A minute later, NDA had their first good look at the rival goal when their strikers penetrated into the Fatima box before custodian Rozario Tupsoundarya brought off a fantastic save. Almost immediately, Sanu Jacob set up an attacking move for Fatima from the right and chipped a perfect ball for Richard Zuzart to head the ball into the net, but he faltered missing the target by a couple of inches.Just a minute before the lemon break, Fatima created a promising move down the left flank. After dodging past two NDA defenders, Viren D’Souza caved into the box and unleashed a scorching shot to the left of the diving NDA keeper. Unfortunately for Fatima, the ball grazed the side bar for a free kick. Four minutes into the second half, Fatima found themselves 1-0 ahead when Vijayan Arland fired a booming shot from just outside the NDA box that struck the crossbar and the ball ricocheted to Richard Zuzart, who was lurking near the goalmouth. He made no mistake in sending the ball into the net.Fatima consolidated their position when Viren D’Souza scored the second goal in 38th minute to literally take the match away from NDA. The goal came at the end of a nice period of passing play before Viren striker cut in from the right and finished off the move with a crisp, sliding shot from 20 metres.“Today’s game was a good test for us and a good test for NDA. We were looking to assess the early progress of our players. We enjoyed our victory, though,” Richard Zuzart told the Herald after the match. “In the first half, we could not score. We, however, came to grips in the second by scoring two goals. I think we played a fairly good game,” he said with a glint of joy on his face.“We tried looking if the enthusiasm was still there, and we think it was there. There is no regression in the side and we are making good progress,” he added.RESULTS: Fatima XI 2 (Richard Zuzart, Viren D’Souza) bt NDA Youth Club 0.