4th September, 2016 – Delhi, India – DSK Shivajians FC once again fell prey to a last-minute goal and went down 1-2 to Minerva FC in the 128th Durand Cup at the Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi on Sunday.

The loss was DSK Shivajians’ first in the competition, while Minerva FC registered their first win. Having played out a goalless first-half, DSK Shivajians were first to score when Spanish winger and skipper Juan Quero converted a penalty-kick in the 60th minute. Minerva FC equalised through Lago Bei (79th minute), before Manandeep Singh (90th minute) handed DSK Shivajians a shocker.

The result put a spoke in DSK Shivajians chances of making the semi-finals, which, instead hinges on the last match they play against Army Green on Monday. The match against the defence squad is a must-win situation for DSK Shivajians to progress into the knock-out stage, but above all, it also opened up a chance for Indian Navy as well.

The position in Group-A is; DSK Shivajians (7 points from 4 games) lead, followed by Indian Navy (6 points from 4). Breathing close is Army Green (5 points from 3). Sporting Clube de Goa (4 points from 4) and Minerva FC (4 points from 4) share the fourth spot, while Gangtok Himalayan (3 points from 3) is at the bottom.

Manager Dave Rogers made five changes to the squad. Sayak Barai, Mohd. Sajid Dhot, Maan Singh and Kim Song Yong were brought in along with Amey Ranawade, who earned his maiden start. Those rested included, Rakshit Dagar, Shane McFaul, Surchandra Singh, Sairuat Kima, Zohmingliana Ralte.

In a half dominated by physical game play, it was Minerva’s Manandeep Singh and DSK Shivajians’ Kim Song Yong who had close chances early on. While the woodwork denied Manandeep, Kim went just wide with his header.

As the game progressed, Minerva had their best chance of the first half in the 23rd minute when striker Marcus Lopez had an attempt from close. However, the Guam attacker found a brilliant point-blank save by Sayak Barai keep the score goalless.

In the final minute of the half, DSK Shivajians had an excellent opportunity to take the lead when Quero curled in a perfect free kick into the box to find Kim. However, the North Korean striker, who managed to connect a header, once again went inches wide as the first half ended goalless.

The second half was a fast paced affair with both sides creating numerous chances in the opening quarter. However, it was DSK Shivajians who controlled much of the proceedings with some good moves.

Having piled on constant pressure over the rival goal, DSK Shivajians finally broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. Juan Quero, on his second attempt, converted from the penalty spot after striker Kim Song Yong was brought down by Minerva’s defender Gagandeep Singh inside the box. In fact, Quero had scored from the first attempt too, but referee A. Rowan asked for a re- take.

With DSK Shivajians pushing up, Minerva levelled scores at the other end against the run of play in the 79th minute. Nigerian striker Lago Dogbo Bei was the fastest to react to a cross inside the box and scored with a powerful header past ‘keeper Sayak Barai.

DSK Shivajians then conceded late on for the second consecutive game in an ensuing melee that led to Sayak leaving his line and coming forth. The ball, still in danger, deflected onto unmarked striker Manandeep Singh, who slotted into an empty net to dash DSK Shivajians hopes of earning a point.

DSK Shivajians will now play their last Group A game against Army Green at the Harbaksh Stadium on Monday.

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About Ujjal Sarkhel

Correspondent of The Home of Indian Football