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Stalemate at Kalinga Super Cup as Punjab FC and Gokulam Kerala FC Play Out Intense Goalless Draw

Bhubaneswar: In a closely contested match, Punjab FC (PFC) and Gokulam Kerala FC battled to a goalless draw in the final Group C encounter of the Kalinga Super Cup 2024. Despite several attempts from both sides, neither team managed to break the deadlock, resulting in Punjab FC finishing third in the group with two points, while Gokulam Kerala secured the fourth spot with one point.

Strategic Changes in Line-up:
PFC Head Coach Staikos Vergetis and Gokulam Kerala Head Coach Domingo Oramas made significant changes to their starting line-ups for the decisive match. Vergetis introduced six new players, including Tekcham Abhishek Singh, Maheson Singh Tongbram, Melroy Assisi, Juan Mera, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, and Nitesh Darjee. Oramas, too, opted for seven changes in his line-up.

Tight Defensive Battle:
The initial exchanges saw both teams vying for control in the midfield, with Gokulam Kerala enjoying better possession early on. However, PFC gradually found their rhythm, but Gokulam’s steadfast defense denied them clear-cut chances. A left-footed shot from Maheson Singh went narrowly wide, representing one of the few close calls in the first half.

Second-Half Adjustments:
With a goalless first half, both teams made adjustments in the second. PFC introduced Ashis Pradhan and later brought in Luka Majcen, Madih Talal, and Manglenthang Kipgen to alter the pace. Gokulam Kerala faced a setback as their goalkeeper, Bishorjit Singh, was substituted due to injury, with Avilash Paul taking his place.

Evenly Matched Second Half:
The second half mirrored the first, with both sides struggling to find openings. The match unfolded primarily in the center of the pitch, with both teams opting for cautious play rather than taking risks. Despite having a numerical advantage after Basit Bhat’s red card for Gokulam Kerala, Punjab FC couldn’t capitalize, and both teams settled for a point each.

Player of the Match:
Melroy Assisi received the Kalinga Player of the Match award in a game dominated by defenders, resulting in the first 0-0 draw of the Kalinga Super Cup.

The closely contested match showcased the defensive prowess of both teams and set the stage for the upcoming knockout rounds in the Kalinga Super Cup 2024.

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