Calcutta: Late strikes from substitute Seiminlen Doungel and Edeh Chidi helped East Bengal earn an important 2-0 victory over Geylang International FC in Saturday’s IFA Shield Group I game, here, at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Replacing Shylo Malsawmtluanga 26 minutes into the second session, Doungel dodged past three rival defenders before coming up with a grounder that went in, thanks to Geylang custodian Wei Zhi Joey’s sloppy work.
Besides Joey, the Geylang defence also was partly responsible for the goal as one of their players seemed to be busy watching and admiring Doungel, while the latter charged in from the right flank.
Precisely, Doungel’s introduction turned out to be the aspect that provided the red-and-golds with a much-needed impetus at a time the chances had dried up, along with a bit too many wrong passes inside the 18-yard circle.
Strange it may appear, but Geylang’s Argentine midfielder Franco Axel Chivilo, who was hardly noticed in the game, left with the Man of the Match award even though Doungel played such a vital role.
After Doungel’s 80th-minute strike that gave East Bengal the lead they were desperately looking for, Chidi registered his name on the scoresheet seconds before the final whistle, making it a perfect finish.
Subodh Kumar squeezed in a through for the Nigerian, who evaded his marker and beat the advancing goalkeeper comfortably to finally slot the ball in. No wonder Chidi was a relieved man after a series of squanders.
The IFA Shield might not be of much importance to coach Armando Colaco. But the players are well aware of the fact that yet another disappointing campaign after an unsuccessful Federation Cup could seriously affect the team morale.
The urgency in the players was very much there right from the word ‘go’. But no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn’t find the target. In fact, both Chidi and James Moga could have scored a brace each in the first half itself. But, East Bengal should have gone ahead as early as in the third minute.
East Bengal: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Robert Lalthlamuana, Raju Gaikwad, Arnab Mondal, Avishek Das, Lalrindika Ralte (Alvito D’Cunha 9), Ryuji Sueoka (Cavin Lobo, 63), Subodh Kumar, Shylo Malsawmtluanga (Seiminlen Doungel, 71), Edeh Chidi, James Moga
Geylang International FC: Wei Zhi Joey, Jalal, Hamqaamal Shah (Mohammed Hafiz, 56), Kento Fukuda, Sathiaraj, Mustaqim Bin Mansur (Aliff Shafaein, 46), Franco Axel Chivilo, Wing Hong Fabian, Mohammed Ridhuan, Leonel Felice (Yuki Ichikawa, 76), Shah Hirul Yusof.
Referee: Rahul D’Sa
MoM: Franco Axel Chivilo