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Bagan trip at final hurdle
- IFA SHIELD
- Myanmar club clinches title after penalty shootout

Calcutta: The trophy, Mohun Bagan's desperate need, was not to be. Instead, the IFA Shield, in its 110th year, presented Myanmar Finance and Revenue Club, with the country's first ever international trophy abroad.

Leading by a Roberto Mendes da Silva 'Beto' goal, till three minutes before time would have finally run out on the Myanmarese, Mohun Bagan conceded the equaliser. And then, in the penalty shootout, a casual shot by Noel Wilson went off target, giving the penalty decision 4-2 to Myanmar Finance and Revenue FC. The aggregate victory margin was 5-3.

Just as Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya had feared, the final at the Salt Lake Stadium went into extra-time and then into penalty shootouts, after the teams were locked 1-1 through 120 minutes.

However, Bagan looked to have sealed it in the second minute of the extra-time when an overlapping Dulal Biswas received a prompt on the right from Ashim Biswas. He centred to the goalmouth and a lurking Beto headed in his sixth IFA Shield goal.

Despite renewed vigour ' recovering from some second half lethargy ' Bagan failed to control the pace of extra-time once it moved into the second half. That's how, three minutes to time, off a Myanmar attack, Bagan custodian Prasanta Dora had to rush out of charge to try and effect a collection. He dived, but was tardy. The ball slipped out of his grip and into free zone, close to the goal. It was a dangerous situation. Kyaw Thu Ra of Myanmar was at hand to collect the slip. Prasanta realised his error and rushed back, even as Eduardo and Palash Karmakar positioned themselves in goal.

Kyaw had a small angle to slot home. He did. It was a surprise how the two experienced defenders and the goalkeeper failed to intercept. The match went into tie-breaker.

When Soe Lin Tun's shot was saved, there was rejoicing in the stands, rather full on one side with Bagan members. The damp feeling that the pre-match rains had let seep in, was lifting. But Eduardo's shot was saved by the Myanmar club's goalkeeper Aung Aung Oo. The came Wilson's blunder. When Soe Myat Min slotted home easily, it was curtains for coach Bhattacharya's dream.

Mohun Bagan set the pace of the match right from the start. The passing game-fame that the Myanmarese carried into the final was not evident. If anything, Mohun Bagan showed a better sleigh of foot.

In the 21st minute Basudeb Mondal got one back from Beto. Taking a challenger in his stride, Basudeb returned compliments to the Brazilian, who, having noticed Dulal overlapping, relayed swiftly. Dulal did connect on the run, but inaccurately, the ball taking the side-netting.

Three minutes later, off a sudden move, Aung Kyaw Moe of Myanmar was on top of the box. He relayed to Myo Hlaing Win on the left, the ball finally reaching Yan Paing. Paing failed to convert from close. This was one of the very few Myanmar moves in this half.

Action intensified thereafter. In the 28th minute, a 25-yard free-kick by Win reached the target. A jumping Prasanta tipped, but the ball struck the crosspiece and came back. Paing shot in promptly, not noticing that he was in an off-side position.

A counter attack followed, and Beto, up the right, chipped one, rising, to the goalmouth. Sunil Chhetri, policed always, jumped in the melee and connected, but his effort was unlucky to meet the crosspiece.

Mohun Bagan's attacks continued. In the 33rd minute, Mehraj-uddin Wadao loped into the attacking third and let go a brilliant defence splitting pass to the left. Chhetri received, and instead of a prompt boot, he hesitated, resulting in a poor shot.

It was to Bhattacharya's wards' credit, that they kept the pressure on. Beto's fine performance added to the fun. Five minutes to time, Beto on the move made a classic flick that put Chhetri in possession. Chhetri's 15-yarder was off target.

It was also true that Chhetri was being rushed by his marker. After the breather, Bhattacharya brought in Ashim (Rishi Kapoor out) and he positioned himself in the right half, but ahead, almost creating a three-man attack line.

Myanmar came back again in the 31st minute of the second half and Paing's shot saw Prasanta thwart, but the ball ballooned high. Eduardo was there, but alone. Prasanta was on the ground. Fortunately, the header Win took as the ball descended was off target.

The match moved onto extra-time.

TEAMS

Myanmar Finance & Revenue FC: Aung Aung Oo, Khin Maung Tun, Moe Kyaw Thu, Aung Kyaw Myint, Soe Myat Min, Aung Kyaw Moe (Kyaw Kyaw Soe, 102), Yan Paing, Lwin Oo (Tun Tun Win, 66), Zaw Htike (Kyaw Thu Ra, 52), Myo Hlaing Win.

Mohun Bagan: Prasanta Dora, Dulal Biswas, Mehraj-uddin Wadao, Ediardo Coelho, Rishi Kapoor (Ashim Biswas, 46), Manitombi Singh (Amit Das, 89), Basudeb Mondal (Palash Karmakar, 77), Noel Wilson, Dharamjit Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Roberto Mendes Silva 'Beto'.

Referee: Manuel Pereira (WIFA).

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