At the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Monday, East Bengal FC and the Indian Navy played to a scoreless tie to open their 131st Durand Cup campaigns. The Sailormen's hard-working midfielder Harikrishna AU won the game's man of the match award in a match in which the Red & Gold bridge dominated, especially in the second half.
East Bengal FC coach Stephen Constantine, a former coach of the Indian National side, chose to play an all-Indian eleven during the tense first half. When Naorem Mahesh Singh had an injury and had to be replaced by Tuhin Das, his initial plans probably went awry.
The lone noteworthy opportunity in the first half likely came from an inside-the-box break by East Bengal FC's V.P. Suhair, who then moved it wide to Tuhin, whose cross back to Amarjit Kiyam in space, but the midfielder was unable to get the direction right.
In the second half, East Bengal FC made an aggressive entrance. Coach Constantine made this intention plain by replacing Aniket Jadhav at halftime with Brazilian Alex Lima.
The opening chance of the half was generated by the team's captain on that particular day, Sumit Passi, whose magnificent piledriver from at least 30 yards out beat Navy goalkeeper Vishnu and thundered off the right upright before rebounding.