DSK SHIVAJIANS played their debut match in the I-League away from home against Sporting Clube de Goa and the lukewarm encounter ended in a goalless stalemate.
Played in the Fatorda Stadium that was predictably near-empty, the new club walked out with a squad where few things were new. Sporting Clube de Goa, too, fielded a side similar to last season's in name and calibre and were depending on the skills of Odafa Okolie up front to get them the goals.
Shivajians medio Indrajit Chougale provided some early offensive moves by aimin at the SCG goal with a left footer that went wide. Then Odafa managed to evade his his double markers and had a blast at the Shivajians goal but veteran Subrata Paul was there to make a timely save.
An unmarked Mohammed Rafi got the ball from a distance and headed it in but it went a bit too high. Then Mahmoud Amna darted ahead and took a shot at the goal but Paul put a stop to it once again.
DSK came back with a Don Bosco shot on goal from a short corner but it Arindam Bhattacharya made an easy save.
In the second half, DSK started looking like the more solid side. A few minutes into the period Indrajit ventured forward again and got hold of a through ball but his shot wasn't good enough to get past Arindam. Meanwhile, Odafa, who had taken to play deep thanks to lack of service from the midfield, got the ball and ran ahead but found no one coming up to support him. He took the shot from a distance and it obviously did not go in.
But when he fed the Indian international Rowlin Borges on a counter the latter ran all the way up but the shot wasn't good at all.
After the hour mark both coaches made a flurry of changes because the game seemed to be destined for a goalless draw but none of the substitutes could force some life into this near-dead contest. The best chance of the game befell Mascarenhas towards the end when he suddenly found himself in possession just a few feet away from the Shivajians goal. He got too excited and kicked too hard and the ball went wide.
One minute before the end of the match Odafa got a header on target that Subrata managed to deflect. The ball went to Loveday who headed it in again but the keeper managed to get back up and saved that one too. The move definitely could have clinched 3 points for the home team and Subrata definitely deserves a large portion of the credit for keeping Odafa and the rest of the SCG attack at bay.
What this game revealed was that Sporting Clube de Goa were going to be more or less the same as last season and fight to avoid relegation. DSK Shivajians were definitely a team more composed and promising but they don't evoke high hopes either. It was a forgettable debut for the new club, although in terms of the campaign a draw away from home in the first game is not the worst thing in the world.