Durand Cup: Mohammedan Sporting beat Air Force to enter the quarter-finals

Kolkata, August 27, 2022

Scoring a goal in each half, local favourites Mohammedan Sporting (MDSP) overpowered Indian Air Force 2-0 to become the first team to move into the quarter-finals of the 131st Durand Cup football tournament at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan here today.

French defender Ousmane Cardinal Ndiaye got the first goal in the 33rd minute while substitute Rahul Paswan got the second in the 87th minute as last year's runners-up MDSP recorded their third successive win with one last league game against Bengaluru FC (BFC) remaining, but that result will not move them out of the top two in Group A.

MDSP's Russian coach Andrey Chernyshov strengthened his defence, starting with Abhash Thapa in place of midfielder Christy Davis while the Air Force gaffer Priya Darshan made two changes with Davinder Singh coming in in midfield, in place of forward Vivek Kumar and experienced keeper Shibinraj making way for Subhajit Basu.

The local club made their first attempt as early as the sixth minute when a long ranger by Tajik midfielder Nuriddin Davronov flew way over the target. In the 14th, Pritam Singh was played on by Trinidadian talisman Marcus Joseph, in what was the first of a flurry of chances he would create for his mates in the game. Pritam’s shot was weak and Subhajit had no problems collecting it, but it was still the first shot on target for the Black & Whites.

Just over 20 minutes into the game, Saurav Sadhukan had probably the only shot on goal for the Airmen, but his effort from a distance, though fumbled initially by keeper Sankar Roy, had no one following up for the rebound.

Six minutes later after a wonderful move down the left flank involving Abhishek Ambekar, Faiaz and Abhash Thapa had the last-named crossing for an onrushing Marcus, but for once his connection deserted him and he shot wide from close.

Their persistence finally paid off in the 33rd minute when Abhash shot one with his left foot, instead of Fayaz who was taking it from his right from that end. It missed all in the middle and after a fortunate deflection, found its way to Faslu, lurking inside the box on the left. The two-time scorer in the tournament, let fly a shot back towards the melee and Ndiaye jumped highest to direct a header into the top left corner of Subhajit’s goal.

Faslu could have doubled the advantage in the 42nd minute when after some good work by Davronov, he found himself one on one with the keeper, but Subhajit was up to it this time.

Chernyshov made two changes at half-time, bringing in forwards Abhishek Halder and Rahul Paswan for left wing-back Abhishek Ambekar and midfielder Faslu. His intentions seemed pretty clear. He wanted more goals to make a probable bid to earn top billing in the group so as to avoid a top team in the knockouts.

Pritam had the first chance in the half, when a Faiaz square run down the middle found him in space but his right-footer flew above Subhajit’s goal. In the 57th, Rahul Paswan had a first golden chance to double the lead when he intercepted a catastrophic back-pass, rounded the keeper and shot into the side-netting of an open goal. Fellow sub-Abhishek Halder was also available in the clear and might have been the better option, given the tight angle Rahul had created for himself. In the 60th, Chernyshov introduced Syrian defender Shaher Shaheen in place of the hard-working Sairuatkima.

A minute later, Marcus found a Faiaz run with a wonderful through taking out the entire Air Force defence, but Subhajit came out on time to rescue the situation. Marcus was at it again in the 65th, this time driving into the box and laying it off beautifully for Paswan, but the latter ballooned his connection way over Subhajit’s goal.

MDSP continued attacking, looking for that second goal, and in the 81st, Marcus found substitute Kean Lewis out on the left wing, who neatly dodged his marker to drive in and crossed for Pritam, but his volley across the goal just missed the target.

They finally found a second goal in the 87th minute, when Marcus, after taking a corner, got the ball back from Ndiaye. He chipped in and Paswan executed a wonderful spot jump to nail a header into the back of the goal.

Abhash Thapa was adjudged the Man of the Match.


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