Gokulam FC scored a last-minute equaliser against Sporting Clube de Goa to complete the semi-final line-up in the 1st AWES Cup, organised by Association for the Wellbeing of Elder Sportspersons and Dempo Sports Club Juniors, at Duler Football Stadium, Mapusa, on Tuesday.
The Kerala side were trailing 1-2 with just minutes on the clock and looked like a safe bet to go through to the semi-finals with six points from two matches. Substitute Shihad N then turned home a ball in the dying minute and Gokulam celebrated their ‘triumph’ as the match ended 2-2.
Sporting Clube needed a win to qualify for the semi-finals from the group, while Gokulam needed only a point, thanks to their better goal average resulting from a 5-0 drubbing of Vasco Sports Club. Sporting Clube had managed a 5-1 win in their opening match against Vasco.
Gokulam FC will now meet Salgaocar FC in the second semi-final on Friday.
Gokulam took the lead in the seventh minute itself through Nigerian striker Adelaja Somide. The Nigerian striker had scored a hat-trick in the opener and was on target again as he capitalised on a defensive lapse to drill home the opener in the seventh minute.
Sporting Clube regrouped and took control of the match and it was only a matter of time before they equalised. The equaliser came in the 19th minute when Cajetan Fernandes floated a long ball to Victorino Fernandes. The Sporting captain controlled the ball and laid the ball for George D’Souza who finished it off with a powerful in-stepper that gave no chance to the rival goalkeeper.
The teams were tied 1-1 at half-time.
In the second session, Sporting Clube took an unexpected lead, capitalising on a blunder from the Gokulam defence as goalkeeper Ajmal PA clashed with defender Ugochukwu Godswill, allowing substitute Marcus Mascarenhas a chance to slot the ball home.
It looked like the goal would be enough for Sporting Clube to qualify for the semifinals but Gokulam persisted and finally scored the equalising goal in the 90th minute. From a ball that was lobbed inside the danger zone, Sporting failed to clear quickly and Bijesh TB’s attempt was deflected off Shihad into the goal from close range.