Daman & Diu managed to hold Goa to a goalless draw in the opening match of the Santosh Trophy West Zone Qualifiers 2019 played at Indira Gandhi stadium, Solapur on Thursday.
Goa, who were eliminated in the group stage of the last Santosh Trophy finals, started the match on an attacking note and came close to scoring in the 7th minute as Meldon D’Silva made a long pass to forward Stendly Fernandes in the box but opponents keeper Nihal Hussain came off the line to deny the striker in a one-on-one situation.
At the other end, Daman tried to build pressure on the rivals with few swift attacks as Azfar Noorani tried to find his teammate Anson Anto with a curling cross from the left but Goan defender Meldon made a timely clearance.
A few minutes later, Daman once again came with a quick counter attack when defender Nascimanto Santiago curled the ball to Ankur Rai in the goalmouth but the Daman midfielder headed wide.
The rest of the match witnessed the Goan side completely dominating proceedings as they had numerous opportunities to break the deadlock but poor finishing and brilliant guarding of the post from Daman custodian Nihal forced the Goans to drop points.
Goan skipper Jessel Carneiro made a perfect long cross to Kapil Hoble in the box but the winger saw his shot blocked by the Daman keeper, whereas, the loose ball was shot wide by Lalawmpuia from inside the box. Jessel made another cross from the left but this time Stendly failed to connect his header from close. The former champions had the best chance in the added time of the first half when Carneiro again curled the ball to Lalawmpuia in the box but the forward failed to control the ball with just the rival keeper at the stake.
Daman came with attacking play in the second half and made few raids at the start of the session but could not break Goa’s strong defense led by Joseph Clement along with Meldon, Sarineo Fernandes and Brian Faria.
With just 15 minutes left on the match clock, Goa’s coach Samir Naik made all three substitutions bringing in Peter Carvalho, Joaquim Abranches and Chaitan Komarpant to sharpen the attack but could not manage to break the deadlock in regular time.
Jessel had two chances in the last quarter of the match when he was first he was set up in the box by Kapil but the Daman custodian was at his best – brilliantly blocking the Goan skipper’s powerful strike.
Five minutes later, substitute Joaquim made a superb through pass to Carneiro but, like the previous occasion, Daman keeper Nihal made a breath-taking save to keep his side safe against mighty Goa.