Konsam Phalguni Singh’s goal steered North East United FC to overcome a spirited Indian Army Football Team in the first quarterfinal of the Durand Cup 2023 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Wednesday.
Indian Army Heach Coach L. Anthony Ramesh made two changes to the starting lineup with Captain Bhabindra Malla Thakuri back after suspension in goal and Liton Shil in the place of Alwin E.
On the other hand, NEUFC head coach Juan Pedro Benali replaced five players, starting Soraisham Dinesh Singh, Gaurav Bora, Gani Ahmed Nigam, Redeem Tlang and Phalguni, with the final name proving to be the difference.
Indian Army initially stuck to its plan of defending in numbers and attacking in counter-attacks. Liton Shil tested NEUFC keeper Mirshad Michu with a long-ranger and minutes later, combined with Rahul Ramakrishnan but the latter’s effort whisked past the post.
NEUFC dominated the next exchanges and troubled the Army defence. Ibson Melo set up French midfielder Romain Philippoteaux inside the box and his curler came back off the crossbar.
Rochharzela had a golden opportunity to give NEUFC the lead but the forward lashed his effort over the crossbar.
Samir Murmu had a chance to give the IAFT the lead in first-half injury time as Christopher Kamei found the forward free but his side-footed effort went just wide.
Juan introduced Manvir Singh and Nestor Roger in the second half and both proved to be instrumental in the decisive goal.
Nestor’s cross into the box found Manvir, who headed it into the path of Phalguni for him to poke it past the goalkeeper and two rushing IAFT defenders.
Army pushed hard in the final minutes to find the equaliser as the coach brought on fresh legs to inject more pace, but the Highlanders soaked in all the pressure to secure a spot in the Durand Cup semifinal for the first time.
It will face either Emami East Bengal or Gokulam Kerala for a place in the final, with these two sides in action on Friday at the Salt Lake Stadium.
- Australia vs Afghanistan Live Score, ICC World Cup 2023: Labuschagne, Maxwell look to stabilise after early setback; AUS 57/4
- ICC World Cup 2023: In ‘Spirit of the Game’ debate, Shakib could have been everybody’s hero with some leniency
- ICC World Cup 2023: Afghanistan picks the brain of Sachin Tendulkar before key clash against Australia
- Manuel Neuer fitness update: ‘Too early for Germany return’ says FIFA World Cup winner
- UEFA Champions League 2023-24: Real Madrid’s Bellingham available for Braga clash