Durand Cup: Northeast United FC end campaign with a win
Guwahati, September 2, 2022
NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) overpowered Sudeva Delhi 2-0 in their last league match of the 131st Indian Oil Durand Cup football tournament at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Friday.
With this win, NEUFC finished fourth in the Group, ending their campaign with three points, while Sudeva finished at the bottom of the table with two points.
Captain Dipu Mirdha scored the opener for the hosts while Gani Ahmed Nigam, converted from the spot in stoppage time of the second half to round-off a well-earned victory.
Sudeva began the first half brightly and showed attacking intent. They maintained possession of the ball and created chances. Sridarth Nongmeikapam broke through inside the box in the second minute itself, but his effort was feeble and Khoirom Jackson Singh in the NEUFC goal, brought about a comfortable save.
Jackson had to be alert again as Ghanian Issac Kwame Essel and Sukhandeep Singh tested him with attempted shots from various angles and distances from that same right-hand side, all in the first quarter of an hour.
NEUFC got one of their own in that time as well, when Dipu Mirdha, the brightest spot by a distance in the NEUFC attack, took a long ranger which bounced dangerously close to Sachin Jha in the Sudeva goal, but he just about managed to salvage the situation.
The Highlanders had another chance to score when Sandeep Thapa was found inside the box in some space. His powerful shot from close from the left-hand side of the Sudeva box forced Sachin into yet another tip-over.
In the second half, North East United coach Subam Rabha brought in Jithin M. S, Emil Benny, Gani Ahmed Nigam along with captain Dipu Mirdha and that made the impact as his team played much better. They maintained pressure and coordinated well, creating more and more chances for the home side.
The first goal then followed in the 64th minute by who else but Mirdha. Jithin had made a beautiful run from the left flank, dodging two defenders in the process of penetrating into the box. He then delivered a cut back pass inside the box and the onrushing Dipu finished with ease.
Minutes later Mirdha had a chance to double NEUFC’s lead from a pass by Gani, but the forward blasted the ball over the bar in front of an open post.
NorthEast continued to maintain possession and did not give Sudeva any chance to create any meaningful attacks. They sealed the match in the sixth minute of stoppage time from a penalty awarded, when Sudeva keeper Sachin brought down Mirdha inside the box, when he was attempting to make the most of a through engineered by Emil Benny. The same was converted by Gani Ahmed, which was also the last kick of the match.