DSK Shivajians FC achieved the mission they set out with by registering a 2-1 win over Army Green and book a historic semi-final berth in the 128th Durand Cup at the Harbaksh Stadium, on Monday..
Two penalty kick conversions by Spanish winger and skipper Juan Quero (6th and 9th minutes) proved decisive, but not before clinical second half defending that led to DSK Shivajians emerging victorious. Army Green could only pull one back via Herojit Singh (36th minute).
The result helped first-timers DSK Shivajians finish their five-match Group A engagements with 10 points in their kitty and guaranteed them top spot in the group. The win was DSK Shivajians third in the tournament, which includes a draw and loss.
Manager Dave Rogers made seven changes to the playing eleven which included, goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar, Sairuat Kima, Rohit Kumar, Shane McFaul and the return of injured Zohmingliana Ralte and Gagandeep Singh, while Hitova Ayemi earned his maiden first start.
Needing only a win to progress to the last-four, DSK Shivajians got off to a perfect start as they took the lead in the 6th minute. After a defender had handled Hitova Ayemi’s ball in the box, skipper Juan Quero stepped up and slotted home the resultant penalty for his third goal of the competition.
Three minutes later, Quero doubled the lead with one more penalty kick conversion, his second of the game and third in the tournament, after referee penalised Army Green for another handball in the box. With the strike, he joined Rohit Kumar as the top goalscorer with four goals to his name.
After that, DSK Shivajians controlled the majority of the proceedings and created many chances. Sairuat Kima was in the thick of the action going close with a couple of headers which went just wide.
As DSK Shivajians were weaving attacks up front, Army Green capitalised on a small defensive error at the other end to pull one back in the 36th minute.
After Quero had lost the ball in the midfield, the opponents pumped it up immediately. Defender Zohmingliana Ralte held off Army Green’s Herojit Singh on the edge of the box hoping for ‘keeper Rakshit Dagar to make a collection. However, Herojit overpowered Ralte and managed to tip the ball past an advanced Rakshit and into the goal to bring Army Green back into the match.
DSK Shivajians led 2-1 going into the breather.
The second half saw both sides play aggressively and once again it was DSK Shivajians who had the first close chance in the opening ten minutes. This time, Hitova Ayemi almost put DSK Shivajians 3-1 up in the 53rd minute after rounding off the keeper on Arif Shaikh’s through ball, but his attempt had defender Boby Chand Singh clear off the line.
Ten minutes later, it was Army Green who went close. Medio Uttam Das penetrated the DSK Shivajians defence, but skipper Lallawmkina’s shot from close range went just over the woodwork as the scoreline remained 2-1.
The game slowed down in the final 30 minutes with both sides playing cautiously. DSK Shivajians, meanwhile, did well to hold on to their lead and seal a well-deserved 2-1 win.
DSK Shivajians will play the runners-up of Group B in the semi-final on Friday, 9th September 2016