- Shihad’s strike helps Gokulam seal semis berth
Shihad’s strike helps Gokulam seal semis berth
Scores in the 90th minute to draw level against Sporting Clube; Clash with Salgaocar FC on Friday
MAPUSA: Shihad N scored in the last minute as Gokulam Football Club held Sporting Clube de Goa to a 2-2 draw in the last Group D match of the 1st AWES Cup, organised by Goa Football Association (GFA) and Dempo Sports Club Juniors, played at Duler Stadium, here on Tuesday.
With this draw, Gokulam has made it to the final four making them the second outstation team to reach the semifinals, after FC Pune City.
The Kerala side will take on Salgaocar FC in the semifinals on September 15.
Both the teams had defeated Vasco Sports Club in their last match with 5 goals but only worry for Sporting was that they had conceded one and were in the must-win situation due to goal difference.
Gokulam coach made two changes to his side as keeper Hemand Ghosh was replaced by Ajmal PA. While he also brought in Arjun Jayaraj following his impressive performance in the last match after coming off the bench. Sporting Coach Mateus Costa also made the same number of changes bringing in Alesh Sawant and keeper Melroy Fernandes in the starting XI.
Gokulam just took seven minutes to open their tally as Nigerian forward Adelaja Somide who was the hero in the last match with a hat-trick, took advantage of the defensive error by the Sporting defenders and smashed the ball into the back of the nets making it 1-0 for the Kerala based club.
Sporting refused to give up after conceding an early goal and came up with numerous attacks on the opponents and finally found the equaliser through George D’Souza. Victorino Fernandes cut past few defenders and found George just outside the box, whose sizzling shot directly entered the the goal.
Gokulam had one last chance before the half-time whistle when Adelaja found Irshad T.V in the better position with a perfect cross but the Kerala lad failed to direct his header in the goal as the ball went out for a goal-kick.
While Sporting also had an opportunity to take the lead when Victorino covered some ground from the half way line, before finding Mauvin Borges on the right flank who in turn tried to find Alesh in the box but Gokulam keeper Ajmal made a quick interception to keep his side safe.
On changing over, Sporting Coach Mateus brought in his luck charm Marcus Mascarenhas replacing exhausted Alesh to brace his side in the attack.
However, it was Gokulam who started the second session on an attacking note as within a couple of minutes their most experienced player Sushant Mathew saw a defensive lapse in the opponent’s side and sent a brilliant pass to Rashid Mohd in the box, but Sporting keeper Melroy made an excellent save to deny the striker.
At the other end, Marcus proved coach’s decision right as the forward gave his side a much-need lead a minute before the hour mark. In the event, the tricky midfielder Girish Naik sent a lofted ball in the box, making confusion in the box between Gokulam defender Ugochukwu Godswill and keeper Ajmal to clear the ball.
Taking advantage of the same Marcus made no mistake to slot the ball home sending home fans into celebrating, 2-1.
Down by a goal, Gokulam came up with more potent attacks and in one of these, they had almost found the equaliser but Sporting custodian Melroy came up with breath taking save to deny Nasar DA’s powerful free-kick.
A few minutes later, another chance went in a vain for Gokulam when Rashid Mohd easily cut past keeper Melroy and found Ananthu Murali in the box but his shot was brilliantly blocked by the defender, but he failed to clear it completely as the ball rolled to Shihad who missed the sitter with an empty goal.
However, in the 90th minute, Shihad made no mistake to put his side on a level with a superb goal from inside the box after getting hold of the lofted pass from Sushant, making it all square and confirmed the semifinal berth for the Kerala side.
After conceding a goal in the dying minutes, Sporting came out all attacking but could not find the winner in the added six minutes. In between these, Cajetan saw his free-kick fisted over the crossbar by keeper Ajmal