DEFENDING CHAMPION GOKULAM KERALA AND ARMY RED THROUGH TO DURAND QUARTERS
Nigerian Chikatara registers first hat-trick of the tournament for Gokulam
ASSAM RIFLES FOOTBALL TEAM – 2 (SOIBAM ROGER SINGH 36’, SAMUJAL RABHA 63’)
GOKULAM KERALA FC – 7 (CHISOM ELVIS CHIKATARA 1’, 52’, 71’; BENESTON PIECTON BARRETO 3’, 45+2’; RAHIM OSUMANU 34’, SOURAV 61’)
ARMY RED FOOTBALL TEAM – 2 (LITON SHIL 33’, 70’)
HYDERABAD FC – 1 (KOUSTAV DUTTA 35’)
One did it in style, while the other upset incredible odds but both got the job done, as defending Champions Gokulam Kerala FC and the Army Red Football Team made it out of Group D, reaching the quarter-finals of the 130th Durand Cup. In the event, the Army Red team became the second Services team after Army Green to make it through to the tournament’s knockout stages.
The simultaneous final group fixtures were extremely contrasting in nature. While the game between the Reds and ISL side Hyderabad FC at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) was tight and cagey in nature, it rained goals at the Kalyani Stadium where Assam Rifles and Gokulam Kerala squared off.
The Malabarians showed no mercy and raced to an emphatic 4-1 lead by halftime.
Nigerian striker Chisom Elvis Chikatara gave Gokulam the lead in the very first minute. Goan forward Beneston Piecton Barrettonotched a brace in the first-half while Rahim Osumanu also added to the tally.
In the second half, Chikatara added a double to his name to complete his hat-trick, the first of the 130th Durand Cup. Substitute Sourav also joined the action and nicked a goal for himself in the 61st minute.
Assam Rifles did score twice (Soibam Roger Singh 36’, SamujalRabha 63’) but it was nothing more than a consolation.
Liton shines in Army Red win
In the other game at the VYBK, Army Red continued their brilliant run and defeated Indian Super League (ISL) side Hyderabad FC 2-1 to become the second regimental side to qualify for the knockouts.
Liton Shil of Army Red scored a brace and was the star of the match. Koustav Dutta scored the only goal for Hyderabad FC.
The first half was very eventful, with both teams playing equally well. Liton Shil broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute, but Hyderabad’s Koustav Dutta did well to score the equalizer, just two minutes later. There were quite a few chances created but after that but it remained 1-1 at halftime.
Army Red played a very attacking game in the second half, and Liton Shil did well to score the winning goal for the Reds, taking his team through to the quarter-finals.
Elvis Chikatara of Gokulam and Liton Shil of Army Red were adjudged to be the Man of the Match from their respective games.
(With inputs from Pratyusha Mukherjee, a BBC Journalist based in Kolkata)