The Amrut Cup is the flagship sports event in the National Kishore Mandal calendar and this year the event was given further prominence by holding it during the National Kishore Mandal Shibir and Adhiveshan at Warwick Conference Park. 29 teams from around the country participated in the two-day competition which was played with great passion and enthusiasm.
Day one consisted of the group stages and, as expected, the favourites Leicester A and Leicester B, along with South London A, eased into the knock-out stages. They were joined by Brent A, Harrow A, West London A and North London A in the quarter-finals. It was North London A who set the standards during the group stages as they qualified with four wins out of four scoring 20 goals in the process and more impressively not conceding a single goal.
The knock-out stages began on day two where exciting football was played and some shock results materialised. West London A were eliminated early although Leicester A, despite falling a goal behind in their first knock-out match, demonstrated their class by winning 3-1 against North London B, with North London’s A team strolling past Brent B 4-0. All the expected challengers reached the quarter-final stages.
In the first quarter-final, an evenly balanced match between Harrow A and North London A went to penalties. North London A prevailed and progressed to the semi-finals where they would meet Harrow C, who provided one of the biggest shocks in the history of the tournament by defeating South London A in the other quarter-final. They could not, however, continue their run into the semi-finals as they were met against an inspired Bhavik Depala of North London A in another penalty shootout, where he made two fantastic saves to take his team to the final.
The other semi-final was an all-Leicester affair with Leicester A facing Leicester B, which has been a titanic clash in recent times, and on this occasion Leicester A came out on top 2-1 despite Chetan Vadher’s golden boot-winning performances for Leicester B throughout the tournament.
The final was set between two great sides, Leicester A and North London A, who have dominated the competition in the past with Leicester A going into the final as favourites. It was a close match filled with great goalkeeping and quality football. North London A began well with captain Milan Raghwani giving them the lead with a well-controlled shot. Leicester A did not lose heart despite the early setback and kept probing and pushing in search of a goal. Their patience and class was duly rewarded after a superb move matched by an equally brilliant finish from Prashant Patel brought them level. The game ended 1-1 in normal time and once again extra-time was required.
With less than 20 seconds remaining in extra-time, Bhavik Depala of North London produced a superb save from Hari Patel to take the game to a penalty shootout. He continued his dominance firstly between the posts saving the crucial second penalty from Hari Patel and then stepping up to score the winning penalty to crown North London A as Amrut Cup Champions for 2012. Congratulations to North London A on winning their fifth Amrut Cup title and their first since 2004.
Harrow B defeated North London C on penalties to win the Nilkanth Cup – a competition designed to allow the third- and fourth-placed teams of the group stages to compete for a trophy.
The individual awards for players were given to Chetan Vadher of Leicester B who won the Golden Boot with an outstanding tally of 18 goals. The award for Best Goalkeeper was won by Bhavik Depala of North London A. Bhavin Patel of Harrow C won the Player of the Tournament award for his outstanding performances and goals that carried his team through to the semi-final.
This proved to be another enjoyable tournament for everyone who participated with great talent and unity being demonstrated by all.