Monday, Dec 15, 2003
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Sporting, which sought to relive its glorious past qualifying among the 12 elite clubs of the country's premier club tournament last season, has been one of the worst starters losing all its three earlier matches. That it finally earned a point in the fourth round underlined its problems in striking. This became more apparent against Vasco as Sporting failed to find the target even once despite dominating for much of the match.
Vasco had every reason to be snug from the outcome as it continued to remain undefeated, gained a valuable point and extended its tally to six points from a win and three draws. Vasco had beaten title favourites Salgaocar SC for its first win in the earlier round and this draw away will help it keep its position in the top half of the table.
Sporting, which has drafted in former star forward and veteran tactician P.K. Banerjee as technical director over coach Shankar Moitra, started on an aggressive note availing the home advantage. A youthful midfield helped the host spread its attacks through the flanks and keep the two forwards - Chidi Eden and Dipendu Biswas - busy on the Vasco goalmouth.
Eden, the Nigerian whom the club has on loan from a local First Division outfit City AC, hardly succeeded as a striker failing to finish even of one of the numerous provisions reaching him. Biswas performance was even worse derailing the team's attacking strategy. The former international was a pale shadow of his earlier self.
Vasco adopted its usual ploy of being defensive on foreign soil and depended on counter-attacks to keep the action in balance. While most of Sporting's attacks were successfully thwarted by the Vasco defence marshalled by the two Diases - Seby and John - the host still had at least three clear scoring opportunities.
But none of them were converted as Eden, on the 13th and 81st minutes, missed the mark from close while Biswas in the 17th minute chipped the ball over an unmanned goal.
There were two more opportunities, the first of which came in the seventh minute as Sporting defender Satish Bharti kept his header off a corner on target but the Vasco custodian Rogerio Ramos saved it with a diving effort. The next one was saved by the framework which came in the way of midfielder Khalid Siddiqi's shot in the 62nd minute.
Vasco will stay back to meet Mohun Bagan in the fifth round while Mohammedan Sporting takes on Churchill Brothers at the same venue in the next round. Our Sports Reporter
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