NAGAON, ASSAM: Mohammedan Sporting Club played out a 1-1 draw with BSF Jalandhar in their last Group A game of the 70th Independence Day Cup at Nurul Amin Stadium in Nagaon, Assam.
With Black Panthers’ place in the semifinals already assured, coach Raghunath Nandi took the opportunity to rest some of his more battle-weary campaigners – regular starters Philip Adjah, Seydou Maddy, Mohammad Amirul and Snehasish Dutta did not even feature on the bench – and gave chances instead to the likes of Sujit Soren, Ayan Roy Chowdhury, Charles Atcha and Sumit Ghosh.
Despite the changes, Mohammedan SC were quick to settle into their rhythm to dictate the tempo of the game. They also controlled both territory and ball possession for the majority of the game, restricting BSF to counter attacks.
Determined to finish the group stage with two wins from as many games, Nandi’s charges pressed forward in numbers.
Their persistence paid dividends in the 15th minute when Sujit picked out Charles with a swerving cross for the Ivorian striker to head home from close range to put Mohammedan SC ahead.
The goal stunned BSF momentarily but they did not lose hope and began attacking with intensity.
Clearly lifting their game for the occasion, BSF dominated their more fancied opponents for long periods and carved out several chances to equalise before finally doing so in the 38th minute. A failed clearance from the Mohammedan SC back-line allowed the ball to roll into the box and it ended up in the net after a lucky deflection from Kamal Kishore who looked in an offside position.
Hitting their opponents on the break, BSF looked well in control at times giving Mohammedan SC goalkeeper Priyant Singh his best test of the tournament so far.
Nonetheless, the Punjab outfit failed to convert as the scoreline remained one-goal-a-piece going into the breather.
Mohammedan SC maintained a total control in the second-half but they took their foot of the pedal.
BSF, on the other hand, were lively from the outset as they asserted their dominance for the majority of the half by controlling ball possession.
Jitinder Rawat and Kamal Kishore offered BSF some hope with their darting runs in Mohammedan SC’s final third but all their attempts have been stifled by the well organised Mohammedan SC defense.
Mohammedan SC did well to stay in the game and had a few chances through Charles and Sujit but it was the lack of finishing that let them down.
Despite creating a number of opportunities to score both sides were unable to add to the first-half tally as the game ended 1-1.
The result meant Black Panthers finish on top of Group A with 4 points from 2 games while BSF also go through to the last four with 2 points.
“Yes, it was a good result for us. I’m really happy with the performance. I would have liked to win but now we have to focus on the semifinal,” coach Raghunath Nandi said.
Mohammedan SC will take on Minerva Punjab FC in the second semifinal on October 12, 2018 at 5:15 pm.