Bengaluru, August 19: An early strike by Muhammed Nemil made all the difference as defending champions FC Goa registered their first win of Durand Cup 2022 after overcoming the Indian Air Force (IAF) Football Team 1-0 at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan (KBK) in Kolkata on Friday (August 19).
Nemil's goal - his second in as many games in Durand Cup 2022 - saw his tally in Durand Cup history rise to six from eight games overall.
Deggie Cardozo, the Gaurs' head coach rang in three changes to his team's starting XI against Mohammedan SC as Mallikjan Kalegar, Ayush Chhetri and Mevan Dias replaced Rayan Roger Menezes, Shanon Viegas and Jovial Dias respectively.
Goa looked to be on tempo to start the game and capitalised on their spell dominance. Nemil made the most when the ball got to him at the edge of the box, dispatching their first chance of the match in the 8th minute with much oomph.
The lead resulted in the Gaurs gradually establishing control over the tempo of the game. In the 17th minute, IAF's Vivek Kumar almost scored against the run of play, when he attempted a long-ranger from over 40 yards out that narrowly missed the target.
Goa kept on creating chances in the first half but the young Gaurs lacked composure in the final third to stretch their lead further.
The game became a scrappy, end to end affair in the second forty-five with a torrential downpour and sombre ground conditions not helping the cause.
Goa got their best chance of the half in the 64th minute, when Delton received a ball from Nemil and attempted a shot from the right side. This time, however, Shibinraj in the IAF goal was quick to react as he parried the ball away for a corner-kick.
Still a goal down, IAF eked their way back into the contesst and they threw the kitchen sink in the late stages of the game. They did indeed create a couple of fine chances to draw level, but the Gaurs' shot-stopper Hrithik Tiwari was equal to the task whenever called into action.
The Assam-native made brilliant saves, once each in the 75th minute and in stoppage time to deny their opponents the equaliser.
The win helped Goa open their account in Durand Cup 2022 with three points from two games. Next up for them is a clash against Jamshedpur FC, on August 26 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan while IAF takes on Bengauru FC on August 23.
Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters were held 1-1 by Sudeva Delhi FC in the second match of the day held at the Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium in Guwahati.
Muhammad Ajsal put the Indian Super League (ISL) side ahead in the 42nd minute, but a stunning strike from Mangku Kuki for the Delhi-based side just three minutes later, ensured that both teams split points in their respective opening game of Asia's oldest tournament.
Blasters next take on ISL rivals Odisha FC at the same venue on August 23 while Sudeva takes on Army Green two days later in between clash of I League teams.
(With FC Goa Media/Agencies inputs)