ANI Photo | Durand Cup: Resilient Odisha FC downs Rajasthan United, Mohammedan Sporting beats INFT

In an exciting clash in Group F of the Durand Cup 2023, Indian Super League (ISL) side Odisha FC showcased resilience and coordination to register a 2-1 win over Rajasthan United FC at the SAI Stadium in Kokrajhar. 
Adwin’s corner found Chandra for the opener, quickly countered by a powerful shot from Denzell for RUFC. A penalty for Odisha FC, confidently converted by Aphaoba, secured a vital lead. The team held firm against RUFC’s pressure, sealing a well-deserved victory on Friday. 
In the 5th minute of the game, Odisha FC made a great start as Rahul played a through ball for Kartik inside the penalty box. Kartik cut across to Pungte, who took a shot, but it was saved by the RUFC keeper.
In the 19th minute, a beautiful through ball was played to Denzell, who tested Neeraj with a quick left-footed strike, but the captain Rakesh and Neeraj were well positioned to deny them the opening goal.
Early in the second half, the Juggernauts scored their first goal of the Durand Cup as Adwin’s beautiful corner was converted by Chandra, giving Odisha FC the lead. (1-0) However, within three minutes, in the 52nd minute of the game, the Desert Warriors equalized as Denzell found the back of the net with an absolute bullet of a shot. Niraj stood no chance. (1-1)
In the 54th minute, there was a great chance for Odisha FC as the ball from the right flank was tipped off by the RUFC keeper to deny Rahul a tap-in. Pungte got the rebound, but his shot was off-target.
In the 64th minute, the Kalinga Warriors were awarded a penalty as the RUFC defender brought down Rahul Mukhi inside the box. The team left no stone unturned, and Aphaoba sent the keeper the wrong way, giving the Kalinga Warriors the lead again. (2-1)
Coach Amit Rana’s boys held their ground, resilient in the face of RUFC’s onslaught, and showcased impressive teamwork throughout the match. Their coordination was evident in effectively clearing a dangerous free-kick from RUFC, maintaining their lead and ultimately clinching a well-deserved victory.
Earlier, Mohammedan Sporting registered their first win of the tournament, with a 2-1 result over the Indian Navy Football Team (INFT) here at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan (KBK) in Kolkata.
David and Remsanga got the goals in the second half for the winners, while P.M. Britto scored a consolation from the spot for the INFT. Mohammedan had gone down in their opening Group B game to Mumbai City FC whereas the Navy men were playing their first game in the group.
The first good chance came to the player of the match David Lalhlansanga inside the first 10 minutes of the game. The scorer in Mohammedan’s first game of the tournament, he needed a tap over the keeper but missed the target by a whisker. Another brilliant ball from Uzbek Mirjalol Kasimov a few minutes later, saw Bikash Singh through with the Navy defence at his mercy, but a heavy second touch denied him a crack at goal.
Kasimov was by far the most influential player on the turf of the first half. In the 23rd minute, he again found Remsanga in the clear on the right flank. The midfielder drove in and crossed but David mistimed his connection and the ball landed on the roof of the Navy net.
A little later, the Navy men had their best chance of the half, when Inayath saw Mohammedan keeper Jongte off his line and tried to lob him from just outside, but he too missed the target.
The best attempt that the Black and White brigade made in the half came from Argentinian forward Alexis Gomez off a free-kick, when he rattled the crossbar with a beautiful curler which had beaten Vishnu in the Navy goal all ends-up.
David finally found his mark just five minutes into the second-half, after Bikash Singh made a penetrating diagonal run in and released the striker inside the box. David turned his marker Sagayaraj and placed the ball away from Vishnu and neatly into the goal.
The Mizo then turned provider to his state and club mate Lalremsanga Fanai 20 minutes later. Alexis found David with a searching ball just outside the Navy box, who then turned, took a touch and released Remsanga inside the box. Navjot was the defender to be fended off this time and Remsanga toe-poked it past Vishnu, as the ball hit the right upright and went in to double the advantage for the home team.
Mohammedan will play their next game against Jamshedpur FC on the August 20 while the Navy play the same opposition a few days earlier on the 17th. Mumbai City FC currently leads the group with two wins out of two. 
On Saturday, FC Goa play home side NorthEast United FC in match 17 at Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. The Group D match begins at 2.30 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Match 18 is the big one with the Kolkata derby between Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Emami East Bengal at Kolkata’s Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), which kicks off at 4.45 pm IST.

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