Defending Champion Gokulam Keralas opening game of the 130th Durand Cup football championship ended in a 2-2 draw against Army Red Football Team here on Sunday.

The Malabarians started on a positive note, courtesy a spectacular goal from long-range by Ghanaian Rahim Osumanu in 9th minute. But they failed to capitalize in the later stages and had to settle for a draw..

It was a windy day at Kalyani and both teams had started well. Gokulam secured the lead in the 9th minute as Osumanu scored a stunner.

However, a major turning point came as Gokulam Kerala FC’s goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar collided with Army Red’s Mukesh Kumar. It was ugly and Ajmal PA had to take R’kshit’s place. The momentum of the game changed after that as Jain P quickly scored the equalizer for the regimental side.

Minutes before half time, Bikash Thapa scored the second goal for Army Red and they had the all-important lead going into the second half.

Gokulam played an attacking game in the second half and even had a brilliant opportunity to score when their captain Sharif ‘ Mohammad’s shot missed the target by a small margin and went over the crossbar onto the nets. He made up for it though later, courtesy a penalty.

The Malabarians had several close chances in the final quarter but failed to convert any and would be the more disappointing side for sure. Their next game is against Hyderabad FC who are in red hot form.

Army Red Football Team still leads Group D with four points.

–IANS

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