GOALLESS DRAW START OFF PROCEEDINGS AT COOPERAGE
MUMBAI: Drum-rolls and vociferous cheering from the packed stands welcomed Mumbai FC to the Cooperage after a long hiatus of five years on Sunday. But the carnival-like atmosphere in the stands could not inspire Khalid Jamil’s side enough as they played out a goalless draw against Sporting Clube de Goa in a Round 4 match of the Hero I-League here on Sunday.
The draw helped Mumbai register their first point of the season but they still remain at the bottom of the table. Both teams are still winless after four matches with Sporting occupying the penultimate spot.
Mumbai and Sporting came into this match with a dubious record of being among the lowest-scoring teams so far this season. And they showed why. While Mumbai wasted chanced galore, Sporting looked disjointed and could not muster a single shot on goal which would have troubled Mumbai custodian Kunal Sawant.
Mumbai were better of the two teams in the opening period. Their midfield, led by Japanese playmaker Taisuke Matsugae, controlled the proceedings from the beginning. Matsugae in particular was influential in the midfield, winning tackles, initiating moves and taking an ocassion shot. Twice in the second half he had Sporting in trouble, once taking a long-shot from just outside the box which forced a diving save from goalkeeper Ravi Kumar and the other time, his close range effort found the side-netting.
Matsugae was ably supported by Pradeep Mohanraj and Cletus Paul but collectively, they lacked quality in the final third. Mohanraj and Paul came close to scoring in the first half from free-kicks but their shots were tipped over the bar by Kumar.
Sporting were dealt with a major blow early in the first half after youngster Brandon Fernandes, in his first appearance for the team, picked up an injury. He was replaced in the 22nd minute by Victorino Fernandes but his absence was dearly felt by Sporting, who could hardly conjure a decent move throughout the match.
Mumbai, on the other hand, played with authority in front of more than 2,000 supporters. But Sporting’s two latest acquisitions – defenders Sandesh Jhingan and Miguel Garcia – were rock solid in defence, giving little space to Mumbai’s Brazilian striker Josimar da Silva and Mohammad Rafi.
Jhingan did well to mark Josimar while the experienced Garcia They dealt with the aerial balls without much trouble, frustrating the Mumbai strikers. Mumbai continued to pile on pressure in the second half but they were unable to make most of the chances that came their way.
Mumbai won three free-kicks and a corner in the dying minutes of the match but Sporting custodian Kumar was up to the task each time, sniffing danger and dealing with it promptly.
Khalid Jamil’s side will hope for a better offensive performance against a formidable Salgaocar in their next match at home on Friday whereas Sporting Clube would hope for an improved show away at Shillong.
Hero of the Match: Ravi Kumar (SCG)