• Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Odisha end group stages with all-win record in Durand Cup

Odisha FC – 1 (Pedro Martin 83)                                        

 Army Green FT – 0 

Odisha FC (OFC) became the only team to end the group stages of the 131st Durand Cup with an all-win record, after they overcame the Army Green Football Team (AGFT) 1-0, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. Pedro Martin scored for the winners in the 83rd minute of the game. OFC thus finish Group D with 12 points from four games and head to Kolkata for the knockouts. Kerala Blasters were the second team to make it through from the group with seven points and two wins. AGFT finished third with four points from as many games.

The OFC-AGFT game also brought the curtains down on the Guwahati leg of the tournament where all 10 Group D matches were held. It was the first time Assam had hosted the Durand Cup.

AGFT coach Robikanta Singh displayed immense respect for the Odisha line-up, going in with a 4-5-1 formation while OFC gaffer Josep Gombau was clear that he wanted to go for a win, fielding an attacking 4-3-3, with Nandha kumar, Jerry and Diego Mauricio upfront to begin with.

It did not quite go according to plan in the first half for OFC though. They got their first chance in the 14th minute of the game after Raynier took a shot from a Mauricio cut-back, but it was off-target. He took another crack in the 35th but was thwarted yet again.

In-fact in the goalless first half, AGFT had two bright chances themselves. First when Roel Lepcha took a crack from distance in the 27th and then just seconds before the half-time whistle, Gautam drove in for a snap-shot on goal. Dylan in the OFC goal brought off saves on both those occassions to ensure honours were even at the break.

Gombau was having none of it. He brought on Paul and Soosairaj at half-time and later got in Isak and finally Pedro Martin, to try and force the issue.

It finally paid dividends as Soosairaj found Martin’s run in the 83rd minute with a defense splitting pass and the Spaniard finished clinically past the keeper to break the deadlock.

Indian Super League (ISL) champions were on a roll after that. Isak got a similar great through ball from Paul two minutes later but his shot evaded both the keeper and the right upright of the AGFT goal. Then in the final minute of the game, a Soosairaj curler was heading towards goal but Gagandeep brought off a super save to deny him.

In the end, it was a win by a solitary goal for OFC.

Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee 

Source : Indian Army

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