Mahindra Utd finesse wins AFC Cup games for Goa

Mumbai-based Indian champion club Mahindra United has opted to play all its AFC Cup matches at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, in the Indian state of Goa. “The crowd, atmosphere and facilities have attracted us to Goa, time and again. When we had to look at an alternate venue (besides Mumbai), we could not look beyond Goa,” the club's manager Henry Menezes told the Goa Herald. But, with the Asian Football Confederation extremely reluctant to allot matches to venues that do not have direct flights, Menezes had a lot of convincing to do during the tournament's preparation meeting at the AFC headquarters, in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year.

“We made a presentation explaining why Goa deserved international matches. We could tide over the fact that there were no direct flights explaining that international airports at Mumbai and Bangalore were just 45 minutes away,” explained Menezes. When that didn’t seem to cut much ice with the AFC officials, Menezes had ready statistics to back his claim that Goa was truly an international venue. “Goa has hosted over 40 international matches. That’s really a big number,” says Menezes.

The coup came during a break in the club conclave, Menezes sold the Goa idea to representatives from Singapore, Hong Kong and Maldives – all from Mahindra’s Group F — "leaving AFC officials with no option but to nod in agreement".