DELHI FC HELD Hyderabad FC to a draw in the opening game of Group E at Durand Cup today.
The match took place amidst pouring rain in Guwahati, with the pitch at the Indira Gandhi Stadium becoming heavily waterlogged and impeding the movement of the ball. Often, when players would try to pass the ball to each other, the ball would just halt at the spot it hit the ground.
Soon, it became obvious that the only way to play was over the air. And instead of a passing game, both teams were compelled to depend on long balls.
Here, Delhi FC got their breakthrough early while Hyderabad FC players still hadn't gotten to these conditions, which were practically alien to a team of their level. A long diagonal ball from the right came flying into the box, which Himanshu leaped up to connect. HFC keeper Gurmeet rushed out to intercept him, and he knocked into Himanshu instead. The ball, taking a clumsy touch off the DFC player, went into the net.
It took some time for HFC to gather themselves and adopt a strategy adequate for this ground, with players slipping and causing unintented fouls all the time. But towards the end of the first half, they were starting to gain control of the game.
Their long-awaited breakthrough came near the hour mark, when Ramhlunchhunga delivered a corner kick that fooled everyone including the DFC keeper and curled its way straight into the net. It was a perfect delivery; unlike every shot that had anything to do with the ground in this match. The world class goal got HFC on equal terms, and things stayed that way till the end.
Delhi FC would be elated with this result, and Hyderabad FC management would be happy that they have gone through this game without picking up a major injury. For both teams, Chennaiyin FC are the main hurdle in their quest for the quarter finals; and dropping points against each other does not help their cause.