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Birmingham Kishore Mandal hosted this year’s Amrut Cup, the national 5-a-side kishore football tournament, at Goals Soccer Centre in Perry Barr, Birmingham, on Sunday 31 August 2008. This year’s competition was in contention by a few teams from the outset, the main challengers being Harrow A, Leicester A, and the defending champions, South A. The Nilkanth Cup was also contested, keeping all teams interested throughout the day.

After the initial group matches, the competition fully came to life in the quarter-finals, where two of the favourites, South A and Harrow A, met, with South A winning a closely fought tie 1-0. Meanwhile, Leicester B progressed to the semi-finals beating Luton in the other quarter-final. On the other side of the draw, Prashant Patel helped Leicester A repeat their feat of the 2005 final by beating West A 2-0. Last year’s finalists, East A, came through beating North A 1-0.

The first of the semi-finals between South A and Leicester B was soon underway. Leicester B got off to a great start going a goal ahead early on, but Kiran Patel soon equalised for South to put the tie back into balance. With the contest level in normal time, the game went into extra time and goals from Ambrish Patel and Biraj Parmar safely secured the contest for Leicester B at 3-1 to put their team into the final.

With Leicester A’s passion and pride at stake and East A wanting to repeat their previous year’s feat of reaching the final, both teams were eager to win the remaining semi-final. Nikesh Patel put Leicester A in front early on in the match, but a great strike from Bharat Patel put East right back into contention. With the game poised at 1-1, it was Hari Patel who broke the deadlock, and soon after, goals from Prashant and Dipesh Patel followed to win the tie 4-1 to Leicester A.

The final was a derby match as Leicester A faced their fellow area team Leicester B. It was a close final with both teams giving their all. Leicester A were more clinical with their chances with goals coming from Nikesh and Hari Patel. Dhruvesh Darji grabbed a goal back for Leicester B, but time ran out for his side, with the eventual score being 2-1 to Leicester A. Congratulations to Leicester A in winning the Amrut Cup for the fourth time in the competition’s 12-year history.

North C won the Nilkanth Cup beating Brent B in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Hari Patel of Leicester A claimed the Golden Boot with 13 goals, Bhavin Patel of South A took the Best Goalkeeper award and young Dhruvesh Darji from Leicester B won the coveted Player of the Tournament award for his outstanding performances which helped carry his team all the way to this year’s final.

This tournament was a great show of talent and brotherhood, played in the highest of spirits amongst our kishores coming together from around the country in 34 individual teams. Many thanks have to Birmingham Mandal for organising and hosting this year’s tournament. Despite the drizzly weather, everyone had a great time together.

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