Neroca FC – 0 Chennaiyin FC – 2 (Anirudh Thapa 15’ Vafa 71’)
Imphal, Monday, September 05, 2022:
Chennaiyin FC (CFC) took their place in the
quarter-finals of the 131stIndianOil Durand Cup, with a fluent 2-0 victory over local favourites
Neroca FC (NFC), at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here in Imphal. The Group C game was
the 40th and final of the Group stages, with the quarter-finals scheduled in Kolkata between
September 9-12, 2022. Anirudh Thapa scored one and assisted in the other, to do the star turn
for CFC in what was a game CFC could not lose and Neroca had to win, to survive in Asia’s
oldest football tournament.
All 47 games of the 131st Durand Cup are being telecast LIVE on Sports18 1 SD & HD and
Sports18 Khel as well as livestreamed on the Over the Top (OTT) platform VOOT!
Chennaiyin looked the better side throughout and definitely had the more quality fire-power
at this stage of the tournament, to come through quite comfortably in the end, it what was a
pressure game in front of a boisterous home crowd.
It helped Tomas Brdaric’s side that the goal came early. A long ball meant for Croat striker
Petar Sliskovic, missed his head but struck his marker’s and fell on the path of Anirudh
Thapa’s run. The diminutive midfielder took one touch to burst into the box and let go of a
right footer which beat the Neroca keeper Soram Poirei for power.
Neroca could have equalized at the half-hour mark when John Chidi snatched the ball from
Iranian defender Vafa, just outside the CFC box and drove in, but his curler round the keeper
missed its target.
CFC kept attacking and creating chances however and the Chidi effort turned out to be the
only effort of note for the homeside in the end.
The CFC midfield in particular Thapa, began taking total control of the game in the second
half. Regular forays by Rahim Ali and Sliskovic, brilliantly martialed by Thapa as well as
Sajal Bag on the wings made it a matter of time that CFC would score.
Vafa Hakhamaneshi finally provided that insurance when he leaped up to a beautifully
delivered Thapa free-kick, to bang home a header. Soirei did not move.
The experienced CFC side played out the rest of the game without much fuss and with Neroca
already deflated. The best they could do was a Johnychand Singh header from a Thomyo cross
in the final seconds of added time, that was off target.
Anirudh Thapa, now has five goal contributions in the nine goals that CFC has scored so far
in the tournament.