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City Exchange QIA Champions League 2023: Safari Friday Fifa Manjeri triumphs in thrilling final

Doha: After a captivating final that ended in a 1-1 draw, Safari Friday Fifa Manjeri FC emerged victorious, defeating reigning champions City Exchange FC 4-3 on penalties to clinch the prestigious City Exchange QIA Champions League 2023 title at Doha Stadium.

This was the ninth edition of the QIA Champions League, a unique Indian community tournament in Qatar, that brings together both professional and amateur players for a month-long celebration of football.

With both teams boasting impressive lineups, the atmosphere was electric as fans filled the stands in anticipation of a thrilling showdown. The match lived up to its billing, delivering an exhilarating contest from the first whistle. Safari Friday Fifa Manjeri (SFFM) took an early lead in the 7th minute when Senthamil Senbagam capitalised on a mistake from the City Exchange goalkeeper, tapping the ball into the net from close range.

Determined to equalize, City Exchange intensified their attacks, setting the stage for a pulsating encounter. Finally, in the 75th minute, Jithin found the back of the net with a finish reminiscent of SFFM’s opener, leveling the score.

With no further goals in extra time, the fate of the match was decided through a penalty shootout. Shanid’s miss initially provided City Exchange with an advantage, raising hopes of a successful title defence. However, both Mousoof and Asrar missed their penalties, shifting the momentum in favor of SFFM. Fasalurahman then stepped up and calmly converted the decisive kick, securing the title for his team.

Sharaf P Hameed, CEO of tournament title sponsors City Exchange and former Qatar volleyball team captain Saeed Juma Al Hitmi presented the trophy to the champions, while QIA Adivsory Committee chairman Mibu Jose, tournament head Safeerurahman, and Indian Sports Centre general secretary Nihad Ali awarded the winners’ medals. The runners-up trophy was presented by Indian Sports Centre president EP Abdulrahman, and QIA officials Abdul Azeez V, KC Abdulrahman, Jayaraj, and Abdul Rahim gave away the medals.

Abraham Joseph (Indian Cultural Centre), Muhammed Kunji (Indian Community Benevolent Forum), Muhammad Ashraf (QIA Advisory Committee), Khaleel AP (QIA Vice President), and Narayanan (QIA Advisory Committee) presented mementos and participation trophies.

QIA organising committee heads Azeem, Abdul Rahim, Ashif, Rafeeque, Abdulrahman, Hamsa and Aslam gave away trophies to the individual award winners.

Orbit FC won the Fair Play Team award. Farukh Choudhary of Safari Friday Fifa Manjeri took home the tournament’s Best Player award, while his teammate Rehenesh was named the Best Goalkeeper. Mousoof of City Exchange FC won the Top Scorer award with a tally of seven goals. Prabin Tigga of SFFM was chosen as the Man of the Match in the final.

(Press Release: QIA)

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