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I-League Qualifier 2020: Champions-elect Mohammedan SC held by FC Bengaluru United

I-League Qualifier 2020: Champions-elect Mohammedan SC held by FC Bengaluru United

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 19 Oct 2020 11:48 AM GMT

Having already secured their passage to the 2020-21 I-League season, Mohammedan SC, on Monday, finished their I-League qualifiers campaign unbeaten after a goalless draw with FC Bengaluru United. The Black Panthers had already confirmed their entry into the I-League with a victory over Bhawanipore FC on Friday and were looking to continue their winning form against a relatively less experienced Bengaluru United side which had won just one of its three matches in the qualifiers. However, coach Richard Hood’s men stood firm as they denied the table-toppers major goal scoring opportunities in the match at Salt Lake stadium.

The match started on a bright note when in the 3rd minute, Mohammedan left-back Hira Mondal went on a mazy run down the left channel before shooting with his right, which was saved by goalkeeper Kunzang Bhutia. Bengaluru responded soon after, when William Opoku’s crisp pass for left back Asraf Ali Mondal prompted the U-22 prospect to float in a delicious ball only for it to go just over striker Azharuddin Mallick in the box.


After that it was Vanlalbiaa Chhangte’s turn to worry the FCBU defence as he dribbled past Asraf and put in a cross, which unfortunately sailed over Willis Plaza’s head. Both the sides had their chances in the first half, and Bengaluru came close again on the 24th minute mark, when their first corner saw centre-back Robert Primus reach the ball ahead of Mohammedan goalkeeper and captain Priyant Singh, but his header was blocked just inside the goal line before Priyant collected it on the second attempt.

Then, as Ronaldo Oliveira laid off a perfect ball over the top for Mohammad Asrar, the scorer from their last match went past Priyant who charged out unnecessarily and fouled him just outside the box. It was a moment of panic for the Mohammedan custodian but his fears were allayed when the referee showed him just the yellow card. Opoku shot way over the top from the resultant free-kick. The latter stages of the half saw Plaza come close when he played a neat one-two with Satyam Sharma, before firing a powerful shot from the right which went straight to Bhutia who grabbed it on the second attempt.

Mohammedan assistant coach Saheed Ramon introduced Subash Singh from the start of the second half and this move almost paid off for the Black Panthers when he charged down the left, did a couple of step-overs and just when he was about to dribble past his marker, an unlucky deflection snatched away his opportunity to test Bhutia who ended up getting wrong-footed by the deflection and conceded a corner.


It wasn’t until the 63rd minute when FCBU had their first proper opening in the second half after Opoku’s square pass found substitute Shreyas Ketkar in space, who fired in a strong shot on target which was saved well by Priyant.

Much of the second half was Mohammedan trying to slow the pace of the game down to the point of becoming lazy on certain occasions. Scorer from the match against Bhawanipore, Gani Ahmed was brought on to provide some thrust from midfield but his tireless movement down the right and subsequent crosses found no takers inside the box with none of his teammates even trying to get into dangerous finishing positions. Instead, it was Shreyas who brought the Bhawanipore midfield to life and it was his pass for Vignesh Gunashekar that saw the latter bulldoze past Mohammedan’s centre-back duo of Balwinder Singh and Stanley Eze and go through on goal, only for Priyant to make another good save.

As the match trickled towards the final whistle, both the sides tested the goalkeepers with a couple of long-rangers with Opoku coming the closest for Bengaluru United. The draw seemed like a fair result considering how evenly-matched the two teams were in terms of their output, or lack of it, during critical moments in the match.

With the other match of the day played out between ARA FC and Bhawanipore FC at the same time at Kalyani stadium, this wraps up the first sporting tournament of the season post the nation-wide lockdown and the focus now well and truly shifts to the start of the Indian Super League and the I-League in November and December respectively.

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