Border Security Force (BSF) and Salgaocar played two matches in one when they clashed in the Durand Cup in New Delhi on Wednesday. The first lasted 90 minutes and failed to produce a goal, and in the second, the ball found the back of the net 25, yes 25, times!
After an eventful, and sometimes humourous, Wednesday, BSF sealed their spot in the pre-quarterfinal league of the Durand Cup after prevailing 13-12 over Salgaocar.
After a soporific 90 minutes, in which neither team looked like scoring, the match went into penalties. Though not a single player managed to score throughout the 90, every player from both the teams converted his spot-kick. Then, with the score reading 12-12, Salgaocar's Francis Fernandes' second penalty came off the crossbar. Up next, BSF's Samrat Choudhury made no mistake with his kick and won the game for his team.
The Salgaocar coach tried three different 'keepers in the shoot-out — and none could stop a single shot. Kamaswar Singh, who started in goal, was substituted after eight spot-kicks by substitute 'keeper Krishna Kalsiya. With Kalsiya unable to save the three shots he got, Micky Fernandes donned the gloves for the next three.
As if the pressure of the tie-break was not enough, both teams had to suffer some anxious moments mid-way through the shootout as a couple of the groundstaff suddenly decided to carry out their daily chore of maintaining the ground, oblivious of what was happening in the middle. The referee and his assistants had quite a task in ejecting them from the ground.
Fernandes also had to wait due to wait before taking his penalty, which he missed as the ‘spot’ had been shorn off its top layer after 24 shots.
Regulation time in the match was in stark contrast to the shootout. There were mis-passes and weak attempts galore. BSF hit the woodwork twice — once through Gurjit Singh Atwal before Salgaocar defender Remus Gomes headed a Surjit Singh cross on to his own goalpost.
The Goan club also had their fair share of chances, most of them falling to their Nigerian recruits, Patrick Okonji and Felix Chimaokwue. However, neither showed the composure to finish.
“This can only happen in this country.” This is what Mohammedan Sporting coach Subash Bhowmick has to say about the prospect of his team having to play three matches in four days in the Durand Cup.
Sporting, who open their account against Air India, Mumbai, on Thursday, are missing two of their star players in Mike Okoro and Shyam Mondal. While Bhowmick does not know of Okoro's whereabouts, Mondal — who was the star of Bengal's Santosh Trophy team — is unlikely to play after picking up a ligament injury, according to Bhowmick.
After facing Air India on Thursday, the Kolkata outfit face Assam Rifles on Friday. And if they make it through to the quarterfinal league, it's Mahindra United on Sunday.