Mohammedan rallies from behind to exact revenge over Goa in the Durand Cup 2022 opener

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was in attendance at the opening match of the Durand Cup 2022

Mohammedan exacted revenge over Goa in the opening Group A fixture of the Durand Cup 2022 by beating them 3-1 in a repeat of the previous year’s final at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday. Muhammad Nemil gave the Gaurs the lead in the first half before Pritam Singh equalized for the Black Panthers after the change of sides. Faslu Rahman and Marcus Joseph completed the home side’s comeback to seal the tie late in the game. 

Goa fielded themselves in a 4-4-2 formation with Salman Faris, Lesly Rebello, Rayan Menezes, and Deeshank Kunkalikar forming the back four while Hrithik Tiwari guarded the goal. Lalremruata HP, Shanon Viegas, Delton Colaco, and Muhammed Nemil rotated the ball in the midfield while Jovial Dias and Phrangki Buam took responsibilities upfront. 

Mohammedan Sporting took the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Sankar Roy guarding the goal. Ousmane N’Diaye and Sairuat Kima were slotted in the heart of the defense while Abhishek Ambekar and Vanlalzuidika were entrusted with guarding the wings. 

Abhishek Halder and Tajikistan’s Nuriddin Davronov played as the double pivot, feeding balls to Sheikh Faiaz, Pritam Singh, and captain Marcus Joseph. Former East Bengal striker Rahul Paswan was the lone man upfront but he often dropped deep to help the team. 

The first chance of the game fell to Goa’s Nemil in the 8th minute when his rip-roaring shot from outside the box went off target. The ISL side almost found themselves behind in the 30th minute when goalkeeper Tiwari misplaced the pass towards opposition captain Marcus Joseph. However, Pritam Singh skied his effort from close range in the follow-through as the scoreline remained unchanged. 

Mohammedan got another opportunity to put their noses upfront a minute later when Marcus Joseph capitalized on a misplaced pass to cut through the left flank. However, the Trinidadian striker failed to keep his shot on target. 

Just when Mohammedan was inching closer to breaking the deadlock, Goa drew first blood thanks to a stunning strike from Muhammed Nemil in the 34th minute. The 20-year-old pounced on a loose ball and after finding acres of space in front of two defenders lobbed the ball into the top corner as the opposition keeper positioned himself on the wrong side. 

Mohammedan kept on knocking on Goa’s doors and almost came close in the 40th minute when Sheikh Faiaz’s shot from distance trickled past the post. The away side went into the tunnel with their head held high as they had a 1-0 lead in their bag.

The half-time talk from Russian coach Andrey Chernyshov did wonders for Mohammedan as Pritam Singh equalized four minutes after the restart of play. Goa goalkeeper Hrithik Tiwari saved the initial effort from the left flank but parried it straight into the path of Pritam, who thumped his volley into the back of the net. 

Mohammedan almost doubled their lead in the 59th minute when Faiaz connected Ambekar’s cross from the right flank. However, Goa custodian Hrithik Tiwari was up to his task to collect the ball. 

It was one-way traffic after the 60-minute mark as substitute Yumnam Gopi got a chance to earn his name on the scoresheet. However, he failed to keep his shot on target despite having ample time on his hand. 

Mohammedan finally overturned the deficit in the 84th minute when substitute Abhash Thapa and Faslurahman combined well to take advantage of the tired Goa legs. The former cut in a sumptuous-looking cross from the left flank while Faslu glanced his header into the far post. 

Owing to continuous stoppages, a total of six minutes were added on and Mohammedan sneaked in one more goal at the dying embers of the game. Faslu found himself in a one-on-one situation with the keeper but unselfishly passed the ball to his captain Marcus Joseph, who made no mistake in nestling the ball into the net. 

Goa has little time to regroup themselves as Deggie Cardozo and his team faces Indian Air Force at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan Stadium on Friday. Mohammedan, on the other hand, has plenty of time to prepare for their next encounter as they lock horns with Jamshedpur on Sunday.