Bhaichung and Samuel Kane were on the scoresheet for the Sikkim side…

Minerva Academy FC kick-started their debut Durand Cup campaign against fellow I-League 2nd Division competitors Gantgtok Himalayan SC with a 0-2 defeat.

GHSC had their first shot on goal in the opening few minutes of the game with foreigner Samuel Kane getting past Minervans Jarmanjit and Akashdeep only to be denied by keeper Arshdeep. Minerva than bounced back in their very next move, with striker Victor Amobi missing a one-on-one against the Gangtok goalkeeper Loknath Roy. Subsequent attempts by striker Girik Khosla also missed the target by inches.

The next couple of minutes were a busy time for Roy as he had to made a few important saves from MAFC’s Manandeep Singh and Khosla.

A dominant first half turned into a disappointment for the northern side when Minerva defender Jarmanjit was shown a straight red for his tackle on Gangtok playmaker Kane.

Minerva’s never say die attitude reflected thereafter as the fought hard with 10 men to break the deadlock, but all attempts were in vain leading to a score line of 0-0 at halftime.

The second half saw Minerva getting in India U-19 international Moinuddin to replace Khosla and another defender in Jarmanjit who was assigned to fill the gap between the back four. He eventually did will with Akashdeep to keep the Gangtok strikers at bay until the 65th minute, when the Sikkim side took the lead through Bhaichung from a corner. The final heartbreak came in the 80th minute when Gangtok again scored again through midfielder Kane from a corner-kick. Thus, making it a herculean task for the Minervans to get back into the game. Striker Amobi was replaced in the final 10 minutes to replenish the Minervan attack which was in vain.

On the whole Jarmanjit was rash to get himself sent off, but Gangtok made their man advantage count deserving to take all three points.

Minerva next take on Indian Navy in another important fixture on 1 September at Harbaksh Football Stadium, Delhi.

Report by Khel Now-Content Editor Mrunal Nakashe. A sports buff, he’s also a foreign policy enthusiast and keen North Korea watcher. Mrunal loves gaming, reading, traveling and is a self-confessed Football Manager addict. You can follow him on Twitter.