Goa missed a plethora of chances to settle for a 1-1 draw against Chandigarh that leaves them needing at least a point in their final game of the 71st National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy 2017 to make it through the semi-finals.
Goa coach Mateus Costa made four changes to the starting eleven from their previous match. Cajetan Fernandes was relegated to the bench, with Peter Carvalho moving to the midfield from defence and Leny Pereira getting his first start at centre back partnering Melvin Lobo. Goa goalkeeper Agnelo Gomes out with a groin strain was replaced by Melroy Fernandes while Brian Mascarenhas and Aaren D’Silva also got on to the start list. Goa got off to the perfect start when Aaren D’Silva tapped in a Francis Fernandes cross from inside the box to give the hosts the lead in the 13th minute. Aaren then had another chance to double Goa’s lead but he shot straight to the keeper after being put through on goal by Liston Colaco. The Chandigarh defense led by former Sesa FA defender Gagandeep Singh had a tough time thwarting the Goa attackers.
The second half started with Goa again missing guilt edge chances, leaving the Goa supporters shaking their heads in disbelief. Liston Colaco, substitute Marcus Mascarenhas and Cajetan Fernandes were all guilty of profligacy in front of goal either shooting wide, freezing inside the box while shooting or delaying their shots allowing the Chandigarh defenders to close them. Liston Colaco missed the best of the lot. In the 54th after receiving the ball from Brian Mascarenhas on the left, he shot above the bar with only the goalkeeper to beat. Again, Liston was the culprit a few minutes later when a nice lay off header by Marcus Mascarenhas fell just in front of him however his shot off his left foot was saved by the keeper. Marcus Mascarenhas then had just the goalkeeper to beat after a pass from Liston put him in a one on one situation with the keeper, however he failed to turn round the keeper and shoot home. He also missed an open header from close range after a cross off a free kick from Nicolau Colaco. The missed chances came to haunt Goa when Chandigarh skipper Sehjpal Singh delivered a brilliant pass to Gagandeep Singh who slotted home past Goa keeper Melroy Fernandes. Melroy then nearly gifted Chandigarh the lead when he failed to clear the ball but Amandeep Singh couldn’t convert the chance.
Soon after the goal, Goa seemed to panic creating several chances, getting players in front but somehow the goal eluded them leaving coach Mateus Costa frustrated on the bench.
At the Tilak Maidan in Vasco, defending champions Services failed to qualify for the semi-finals after losing their second game against Meghalaya. Meghalaya took the lead in the 7th minute when Ernestar Malngiang’s long ball eluded the Services defenders and found Nongspung who unleashed a half volley that crashed into the nylons. Bisharlang Kharumnuid then made it 2-0 for the North Eastern side in the 76th minute to send the defending champions out of the tournament.
Meghalaya now need a win against Bengal in their final match and would hope Goa lose against Services to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Maharashtra v Punjab (GMC Stadium Bambolim, 16.00 IST)
Mizoram v Kerala (Tilak Maidan, 16.00 IST)