By Sports Reporter/Doha
The stage is set for a thrilling end to the City Exchange Ria IME QIA Champions League, with the final of the sixth edition slated to be played out between Team MBM and City Exchange TJSV Tea Time FC on May 11 at the Al Arabi Stadium.
Team MBM progressed to the final after their opponents United Kerala FC forfeited the semifinal clash, while City Exchange TJSV Tea Time FC defeated YAAS Qatar by a single goal in the second semi-final.
The two teams will now lock horns in the showpiece event this Friday to determine who will lift the prestigious trophy.
The first finalist was decided without kicking a ball after United Kerala fielded an ineligible player for their semifinal clash with Team MBM. United Kerala refused to comply with tournament regulations and walked off the pitch, after which the referee awarded MBM the win and a spot in the final.
Later in the evening, City Exchange TJSV Tea Time FC and YAAS Qatar fought it out for the remaining spot and what ensued was a fantastic match for the Doha Stadium crowd to savour. City Exchange TJSV dominated the proceedings early on and could have gone in front but were denied by the woodwork.
Tournament’s leading scorer Mousoof Naizan led the line for City Exchange TJSV and it was his effort that finally led to the breakthrough. In the 42nd minute, Mousoof’s strike crashed off the crossbar, only for Bijesh Balan to finish off the rebound and put City Exchange TJSV in the lead right before halftime.
YAAS Qatar emerged with more desire following the halftime break and carved up a number of chances to score, with star striker Faizal Rahman memorably coming up with an overhead kick, but they were denied by resolute defending from City Exchange TJSV.
The experience of the City Exchange team was evident, and led by captain Bijo Paul, the team stood their ground and held on to pull off a narrow win and set up a final face-off with familiar rivals Team MBM.
The final is expected to be just as exciting, with both finalists having appeared in the semifinals of the 2017 edition of the QIA Champions League. On that occasion, Team MBM prevailed 3-1, meaning that City Exchange will have revenge on their minds come Friday evening.
Tournament organisers expect a capacity crowd at the Al Arabi Stadium for Friday’s final, which will be preceded by a musical show featuring prominent artistes from India and Nepal, including Naresh Iyer, Sharanya Srinivas, Sidharth Nagarajan, Yumna Ajin and Navneeth Sunder.
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