Calcutta: Last year’s runners-up Dempo SC reached the knockout stages of the Federation Cup for the second consecutive time courtesy superior goal difference as they played out a goalless draw against Mohammedan Sporting in a crunch Group D encounter here at the MDS Complex, on Monday.
While Mohammedan Sporting needed to win, a draw was enough for Dempo to assure a place in the last-four stage. Both the outfits finished on seven points from three matches.
Mohammedan Sporting were profligate in front of goal with their Brazilian striker Joshimar failing to convert a gilt-edged chance off Syed Rahim Nabi’s centre in the second half. It was Dempo who dominated the first half, but Mohammedan Sporting played with intent in the second. Luck though was not in their favour.
In the third minute, Joshimar got the better of Dempo’s Haroon Amiri, but failed to send in a cross into the box.
The forward was in the thick of things a few minutes later, exchanging passes with Nigerian Penn Orji, claiming a corner kick which eventually was tamely taken.In the 15th minute Jerry Zirsanga was replaced by Ashim Biswas after the former picked up a knock.
Dempo had more ball possession in the first half and could have converted had Jeje Lalpekhlua timed his run to perfection off Clifford Miranda’s teasing cross from inside the box.
Romeo Fernandes too spurned couple of half-chances off Beto’s corner in the 14th minute and a inch-perfect diagonal ball one minute later.
In the 26th minute, Pronay Halder unleashed a powerful left-footer that went inches wide from another Clifford flag kick which was cleared only as far as the former by Mohammedan Sporting.
Brazilian Beto was at his usual best once again heckling the Mohammedan back-four of R. Dhanrajan, Luciano Sabrosa, Mehrajjudin Wadoo, and Nirmal Chetri on numerous occasions. On one such occasion Beto was brought down just outside the area by Rakesh Masih.
Beto though skied his effort much to the disappointment of the packed crowd who were cheering his every move. Just before the break, Masih’s ambitious shot from 35 yards out was collected well by Laxmikant Kattimani in Dempo goal. Mohammedan Sporting upped the ante after the break.
Meanwhile, in Kochi, Koko Sakibu scored a brace as Eagles FC ended their campaign with a 2-0 victory over United SC in a Group A league match.