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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Durand Cup: Mohun Bagan Super Giant to face Emami East Bengal in final on Sunday

On Thursday, Mohun Bagan did not disappoint their legion of fans, and the tournament organisers, as they staved off FC Goa’s spirited challenge to win the second semi-final 2-1

Angshuman Roy Salt Lake Published 01.09.23, 08:20 AM
Jason Cummings of Mohun Bagan Super Giant is about to convert the penalty against FC Goa during the semi-final of the Durand Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday.

Jason Cummings of Mohun Bagan Super Giant is about to convert the penalty against FC Goa during the semi-final of the Durand Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday. Santosh Ghosh

After 19 years, the Durand Cup final will be a derby between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

On Thursday at the Salt Lake Stadium, Mohun Bagan Super Giant did not disappoint their legion of fans, and the tournament organisers, as they staved off FC Goa’s spirited challenge to win the second semi-final 2-1.

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They will face arch-rivals Emami East Bengal in the final at the same venue on Sunday. Another full house — like it was on August 12 during the group stage clash that East Bengal won — is guaranteed.

With the India-Pakistan Asia Cup Group A cricket match scheduled on Saturday, sports lovers will have their weekend full.

The last time the two Calcutta sides clashed in the final of the Durand Cup was in November 2004 when East Bengal came up trumps 2-1 at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. Captain Chandan Das’s brace for the red and gold brigade had got them the
trophy.

On Thursday, Mohun Bagan were pegged back by FC Goa in the 23rd minute. Hugo Boumous made an error as he lost the ball cheaply. Noah Sadaoui capitalised on the mistake and pounced on the ball. He looked up and took a shot from distance. The connection was brilliant and the ball rattled the back of the net past a diving Vishal Kaith. A smiling Sadaoui rushed towards the byline and FC Goa players celebrated in front of the stunned Bagan fans.

FC Goa were all over their rivals after the goal. Jay Gupta, on the left, and Sadaoui were brilliant as they ran Bagan ragged. In the 38th minute, FC Goa thought they had a penalty when Bagan captain Subhasish Bose handled the ball inside the six-yard box. But referee Ashwin did not heed their appeal and Bagan were on the break. Ashique Kuruniyan raced towards the FC Goa box and was tripped by Jay Gupta.

The referee initially gave a free-kick but changed his decision after the assistant referee said the foul was inside the box.

A penalty was awarded, the decision vociferously contested by the FC Goa players who said they should have been given that at the other end. But the referee stood his ground and Jason Cummings made no mistake in making it 1-1.

For the second match running, Bagan were lucky to get a favourable decision from the match officials. In the quarter final against Mumbai City, Anwar Ali had clearly fouled Greg Stewart but the referee had turned a blind eye.

Bagan got their second a minute after the hour mark. India defender Sandesh Jhingan missed the ball in an attempt to intercept. Armando Sadiku got the ball, took a couple of touches and went for a shot from outside the box. It was a cracker of a shot as it hit the bullseye, giving FC Goa goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh no chance.

The crowd celebrated wildly but the 32-year-old Albanian forward hardly showed any emotion. Probably coach Juan Ferrando’s decision to keep him on the bench till 57 minutes had not gone down well with the forward.

Bagan were much better in the second half and created quite a few chances. On one occasion, substitute Manvir Singh ran into the FA Goa box but instead of a cut back to a waiting Sadiku and Dimitri Petratos, he tried to score and as expected could not do much.

Sadiku also failed to hit the target from inside the box, while Sahal Abdul Samad could have done better when he had a chance to increase the margin.

FC Goa, under coach Manolo Marquez, look to be a team who would pose quite a few problems for their rivals this season. They troubled Bagan continuously and in injury time, the Bagan defence had to give its all to ensure that the scoreline remained unchanged.

Come Sunday, Bagan would seek revenge. But East Bengal, having beaten Bagan after four and a half years, will also want to record a ‘double’. A mouth-watering clash is on the cards.

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