Calcutta: When Penn Orji finally found the mark in the fourth minute of extra time, the 20,000-odd crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium went berserk with joy on Tuesday evening. For, that brought them closer to the IFA Shield final.
And that one long-awaited goal was enough to take them to the final after 24 long years. It was way back in 1990 that they had last played the Shield final. The memories from that match are not really very pleasant. The team had actually walked off, after a dispute with the referee, when East Bengal were ahead by a goal. While the title was awarded to East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting were not declared as the runners-up.
Their last taste of a IFA Shield win was in 1971, when they defeated Tollygunge Agragami 2-0.
On Tuesday, at the Salt Lake stadium, the second semi-final of the 118 th IFA Shield never really rose to any great heights. Mohammedan Sporting will meet the Bangladeshi outfit Dhamnondi Club in the final on Friday. The team from across the border played stellar football to oust city giants East Bengal 3-0. And going by the performance on display on Tuesday, Mohammedan Sporting will have their task cut out.
Penn’s late strike ended the defending champions United SC’s attempt at making it to the final three times in a row.
With the match going into extra-time, Penn came to Mohammedan Sporting’s aid. Nabi’s pass from the right found Penn, who made no mistake. But Sangram Mukherjee was partially to be blamed as he made a rather half-hearted effort to thwart the Mohammedan Sporting midfielder.
Throughout the match it seemed that Mukherjee was not completely match fit.
On Tuesday, United SC lacked that punch that had helped them get past two foreign teams in their group-league stage. They missed Lalkamal Bhowmick in the midfield specially. Lalkamal got injured in the last group-league match against Geylang International, and his absence proved to be costly for the purple brigade.
Even the return of Ranty Martins did not help matters for United, as they could only create a couple of chances at goal.
Mohammedan Sporting, too, could not really create many opportunities. Joshimar failed to live up to expectations and had he not wasted golden chances, they could have made it to the final well within regulation time.
Mohammedan Sporting: Luis Barreto, Nirmal Chettri, Luciano Sobrosa, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, R Dhanrajan, Antony Soren (Samson Ramenghmawta, 71), Penn Orji, Ishfaq Ahmed, Manish Maithani, Syed Rahim Nabi, Joshimar (Dipendu Biswas, 112).
United SC: Sangram Mukherjee, Deepak Mondal, Bello Rasaq, Tapan Maity, Dhanachandra Singh, K. Asif, Snehasish Chakraborty (Rajendra Kumar, 25; Baldeep Singh, 64), Souvik Chakraborty, Mohammed Rafique (Surajit Bose, 105), Eric Brown, Ranty Martins.
Referee: Pranjal Banerjee
MoM: Penn Orji