By Debayan Mukherjee,
AIFF Media Team
MARGAO: East Bengal and Mumbai FC made little difference to the points table as they played out a turgid 0-0 draw in a crucial Hero Federation Cup Group A faceoff here at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Friday (January 2, 2015).
Both sides moved to four points but stayed where they were in the pecking order leaving their chances hanging in the balance with a must-win situation in the last round of matches to keep their hopes of a semifinal ticket alive.
Of the chances both teams got to break the deadlock, Mumbai would rue not bagging full points owing to the better opportunities to score the elusive goal. East Bengal goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury was in fine form pulling off a double save from Mohammed Rafi and Josimar da Silva in the first half, and deflecting another Josimar attempt from close on to the bar.
Coach Armando Colaco made two changes to his team that rode a last -gasp Dudu Omagbemi winner to victory against Sporting the other day.
Left-back Harmanjyot Singh Khabra was grafted in after a layoff in place of Raju Gaikwad and Joachim Abranches was rewarded a start for his good showing the previous game, Lalrindika Ralte making way for the former India International.
Mumbai FC were unchanged.
The red and golds struggled to make an impact throughout the first period. The closest they came was when Mumbai FC’s Nigerian stopper-back Chika Wali almost put through his own net trying to clear a Dudu Omagbemi strike. The ball alarmingly went out for a corner from which Kunal Sawant claimed with ease.
At the other end, Subhashish had much more to do and the Atletico de Kolkata keeper did well to save twice from his Indian Super League colleague Mohammed Rafi and Josimar da Silva on the rebound after Rahul Bheke set Rafi up inside the area.
Looking to turn the tide in their favour, Colaco unleashed the experienced Shylo Malsawmtulunga in place of an ineffective Cavin Lobo at half time, and post the hour mark took off Joachim Abranches to draft in ISL Final hero Md. Rafique.
But nothing seemed to be bearing fruit as half chances went begging for Shylo as he first nipped in a dipping cross that almost caught Kunal off the hook and then crossed to the back post when he had time to pull the trigger.
The chance of the half befell Mumbai FC. With thirteen minutes left on the clock, Climax Lawrence’s corner from the right was headed goalwards by Josimar which an alert Subhashish pushed on to the crossbar.
At the death, Mehtab Hossain tested Kunal from 25 yards but the keeper was up to the task, diving low to thwart the danger.
Posted on : Friday January 02, 2015