Domestic Leagues

South Asia Wrap: Mohammedan stay on course for I-League, exciting contest in Bhutan

Kolkata: Mohammedan Sporting Club maintained their perfect start with a 4-1 win over ARA FC in the 2020-21 I-League Qualifiers on Sunday.

In the Bhutan Premier League, the two-horse race for the title continued as Thimphu City and Ugyen Academy recorded important wins to share top spot.

Join as we take a look at the domestic action in South Asia.

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India: Mohammedan in irresistible form

Mohammedan Sporting boosted their hopes of sealing the single available spot to the 2020-21 I-League with a commanding 4-1 win over AFA FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday

A three-goal blitz in the first half, which saw Mohammedan Sporting controlling 75 percent of the possession, meant the Kolkata-based club added to their opening 1-0 win over Garhwal FC.

Having looked a little rusty in Thursday's defeat of Garhwal FC, Mohammedan Sporting head coach Yan Law made six changes to his starting line-up and his team got off to a brilliant start with Trinidadian striker Willis Plaza opening the scoring in the 13th minute as he finished Vanlalbiaa Chhangte's cross with a powerful, low shot past Iprotip Das in the ARA FC goal.

Chhangte played a pivotal role again in the second goal, as his cross from the left flank in the 21st minute found Hira Mondal who played the ball back across goal for 21-year-old Nepali striker Abhishek Rijal, making his Mohammedan debut, to finish from close range.

Rijal scored Mohammedan's third just before the half-time whistle as the Kolkata side, the only team in the five-team Qualifiers to have previously played in the I-League, all but sealed the points.

Ahmedabad-based ARA FC made a double change at the restart, with Sreekuttan VS and Royal Wasker replacing Alber Gonsalves and Manoj Kannan. The move helped ARA FC get off to a bright start with MDSP keeper Priyant Singh immediately called into action to punch clear a dangerous cross, directed at Nigerian striker Stanley Eze.

Sreekuttan justified his inclusion in the 54th minute, picking up the ball inside his own half and driving forward before sending across a dangerous through-ball which Mohammedan defender Saiful Rahman deflected into his own goal.

That was to be it though for ARA FC as Mohammedan regained the initiative and capped off a fine performance with SK Faiaz (pictured above) slotting home their fourth in the 89th minute.

Mohammedan will not be in action on Matchday Three while ARA FC face FC Bengaluru United on Wednesday needing a win to revive their hopes.

FC Bengaluru United, beaten 2-0 by Bhawanipore FC in their opening tie, responded with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Garhwal FC at the Kalyani Stadium in Sunday's other tie.

Both sides came into the match on the back of defeats in the opening round of the competition and it was Ghana international William Opoku’s goal in the eighth minute that proved to be the difference between the two teams in the end.

Bengaluru United went ahead through Opoku after a quality piece of play.

Midfielder Arun Kumar played in Ronaldo Oliveira with a delightful through-ball that cut the Garhwal FC defence wide open but the Goan’s one-on-one effort was saved by goalkeeper Sayak Barai. Opoku, however, was on hand to convert the rebound.

Garhwal will play Bhawanipore on Wednesday desperately needing a win to keep their faint hopes alive.

Bhutan: Thimphu City, Ugyen Academy in exciting race

Thimphu City and Ugyen Academy recorded important wins as the exciting two-horse race for the Bhutan Premier League title continued over the past week.

Both teams are on 19 points, with Thimphu ahead on goal difference with both teams having played seven matches each.

With Ugyen Academy having defeated 2019 champions Paro FC 2-1 on Thursday, the pressure was on Thimphu to match their result against Transport United on Saturday.

Thimphu were up for the challenge as goals by Mipham Chophel in the 20th and 76th minutes gave them the three points, with Sonam Wangyel's 85th minute effort proving to be mere consolation for Transport United.

Ugyen Academy had a more exciting end to their clash, as Thinley Dorji's 90th minute strike secured them the points after Paro's Chencho Gyeltshen 88th minute goal had cancelled out Phurpa Tenzin's 83rd minute lead.

Photos: All India Football Federation

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