KOKRAJHAR: Bodoland FC ended their first ever Durand Cup campaign with a historic 2-1 win over Od-isha FC, their first win in the iconic tournament. Playing their final Group F fixture of the 132nd IndianOil Durand Cup at SAI Stadium, the home side rode on second-half strikes by Maneshwar Mushahary and Cameroonian Zacharie Mbenda to come from behind and register a famour and popular win. Pungte Lapung had scored first to give Odisha the lead.
As Group F stands, both Bodoland and Odisha end with three points, whereas the Indian Army are sitting pretty at the top with six points and a game in hand against Rajasthan United FC who are also currently on three points.
Coach Amit Rana made no changes to his Odisha 11 at the SAI Stadium in Kokrajhar whereas Daimalu Basu-matary, the Bodoland coach made as many as eight changes to the side that played the Army in the previous match. They and his substitutions later on, did seem to work in the end result.
The Juggernauts had a great chance to score in the 20th minute when Aphaoba Singh was put through by Pung-te but despite getting a good crack in wet underfoot conditions, he could not hit the target. The home side’s best chance in an otherwise barren first-half came to striker Nicodim, but he too could not hit the target with only the keeper to beat.
The goal for the Kalinga Warriors came from the same Aphaoba-Pungte combination, but the former turned provider in this instance. The cross from Aphaoba from inside the box on the right flank was meant for Dheeraj Datta, who had come on as substitute and had overlapped. Dheeraj, with a marker on him missed, more due to underfoot conditions than anything but it fell invitingly for Pungte who was following the ball. The 20-year-old Arunanchal Pradesh forward nailed his right-footer past a few Bodoland legs and keeper Brahma into the bottom left corner.
Then in the 80th minute, Maneshwar Mushahary, who had just come on as substitute, brought the roof down at the SAI Stadium with the equalizer. The ball was floated into the Juggernaut’s box from just inside their half by Situ Basumatary. Odisha keeper Niraj Kumar came forward and rose to collect but Maneshwar’s head beat him to it and the game was tied.
The winner came in the final minute of regulation time when two more substitutes combined for Bodoland. Ghanaian Joe Aidoo put the ball through inside the box for Irakadu Khakhlari, who drove in and cut back for Cameroonian striker Zacharie Mbenda to finish.
The passion and fight shown by Bodoland FC throughout the tournament, made them deserving winners at the end of the day.
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