NAGAON, ASSAM: Mohammedan Sporting Club edged past Minerva Punjab FC 2-1 in the second semifinal to book their place into the final of the 70th Independence Day Cup in Nagaon, Assam.
Ghanaian goal-machine Phillip Adjah (44th and 61st) scores twice for Black Panthers while Atinder Mani (79th) pulled a goal back for Minerva at Nurul Amin Stadium on Friday.
Mohammedan SC dominated first-half ball possession, but did not do much to threaten the opposition goal, while Minerva, who were pressed back for the majority of the half, did well to absorb the pressure and looked dangerous on the few times they attacked.
The first-half was characterized by a lack of goal scoring opportunities from both sides. In the infant stages of the game, Mohammedan SC had shown promise with some impressive passes, but when they resorted to long balls, Minerva dealt with them with confidence.
However, the Black Panthers were rewarded for their persistent efforts as Adjah ran on to a pass from Prosenjit Chakraborty and rifled a right-foot shot past goalkeeper Bhaskar Roy in the 44th minute to give his side the lead going into the breather.
Mohammedan SC goalkeeper Priyant Singh was a spectator in the first-half, but he saw more action in the second, keeping out an angled drive from William Opoku before twice having to punch away an awkward aerial ball in the 54th minute as Minerva began to put more pressure on the Mohammedan SC defense looking for the equalizer.
Despite the momentum turning in Minerva’s favour, Mohammedan SC fought back to add a second when Adjah slotted home from close range after rounding Bhaskar in the 61st minute.
Meanwhile, Minerva did not lose hope as they kept attacking with intensity and pulled a goal back through Atinder in the 79th minute.
The match started to become a little tenser as the clock counted down with Minerva showing great determination in their pursuit of an equalizer, while Mohammedan SC remained solid at the back.
Minerva, to their credit, never gave up but it appeared as if getting on the score sheet just wasn’t to be for the side today with every shot went anywhere but on target as Mohammedan SC held on on for a well-deserved win.
“We always think of winning whatever game we are going into. I wished to play a better game especially in the second-half, but we were facing a very strong team in Minerva. They were very dangerous especially in the second-half. We are happy to win such a tough game. We have the final in just 24 hours but we have to adapt with that. I promise our supporters back home that we will fight till the last second,” said coach Raghunath Nandi.
“I don’t even have words to explain what we feel as a team. We went into this game with belief that we can do it. The players gave it their all on the pitch and now we have victory. ” Adjah said after the final whistle.
Mohammedan SC will now take on BSF Jalandhar, who beat Oil India 1-0 thanks to Ramakanta Hembram’s 88th minute goal in the first semifinal, in the final tomorrow at 6 pm.