By RAFIQ A WANI
SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir’s star footballer Mehrajuddin Wadoo emerged as the standout performer as Mohammedan Sporting defeated Bangladesh club Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi 4-3 on penalties to win the IFA Shield for the first time since 1971.
While it was Wadoo’s brilliance that helped Kolkata giants to make a terrific comeback from a goal down it was their substitute goalkeeper Naseem Akhtar who proved to be the unlikely hero in the penalty shootout, exhibiting two saves after stipulated time saw teams tied at 1-1.
It was Dhanmondi that draw the first blood in the first half through Sony Norde, but Wadoo’s brilliance meant his team drew level with a goal just minutes away to halftime break.
In the second half that saw players involved in verbal brawls in high voltage scenario, neither side managed to get a goal which meant teams were locked at 1-1, when final whistle blew, prompting a penalty shootout which Mohammedan Sporting won comfortably.
Wadoo, who has been a star performer in Indian domestic soccer circuit and playing for India, was awarded ‘Best Indian Footballer’ for his consistent show, and the ace striker dedicated this award to his son Ahmad Mohammad.
“I am extremely thrilled to win the award and help my club to lift the title after a long gap. I am happy that my performance has indicated that there is lot of soccer talent in our state,” Wadoo told Kashmir Reader over the phone from Kolkata, who has become a vital cog of Mohammedan Sporting Club along with his J&K teammate Ishfaq Ahmad. The duo has emerged as the most followed soccer players in the state over the last six years or so.
Wadoo feels that his performance will help youngsters in the state take up the sport.
“Youngsters should make sure they perform well whatever chance and opportunity they are given as talent and hard work never gets unnoticed,” he said.