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Resilient Army Red FT script historic victory against ISL champions Hyderabad FC

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In a shock result, Indian Super League (ISL) champions Hyderabad FC (HFC) suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Army Red Football Team (ARFT) in their final group stage game of the Durand Cup 2022. Suresh Meitei’s lone goal in the 33rd minute was the difference between the two sides at the Khuman Lampak Stadium on Saturday, September 3.

Coming into the fixture, the fate of both Group C teams was already sealed. The Nizams had already qualified for the knockout rounds as group toppers, while ARFT had no chance of making it through.

With the qualifications already secured, head coach Manolo Marquez fielded a relatively inexperienced side with a few first-team players. But the game evolved into an open encounter with both teams creating plenty of chances. HFC could’ve had an early lead when Manoj Mohammed drilled in a cross in the third minute, but Borja Herrera completely missed the header. Although Hyderabad FC continued to control the proceedings, the Armymen held their own in the middle of the park.

In the 33rd minute, Army Red FT were rewarded for their tenacity when Christopher Kamei’s freekick was turned home from close range by skipper Suresh Meitei. HFC’s Lalchungnunga Chhangte almost immediately had an opportunity to equalize. However, his effort went straight to the keeper. The underdogs took a surprise lead and managed to defend it well into half-time.

Hyderabad FC fail to breach Army Red FT’s defense

Coming out after the break, Hyderabad FC continued to charge for the elusive equalizer. Desperate to maintain their winning run, Manolo Marquez replaced rookie Soyal Joshi with Reagan Singh. Soon after, the Spanish manager started introducing his big guns, Javier Siverio, Joao Victor, and finally Bartholomew Ogbeche.

Even the highest scorer of the tournament failed to breach Reds keeper Bhabindra Thakuri. M.G. Ramachandran’s side showed resilience to hold off Hyderabad FC’s attackers and script a historic victory in their final game of the Durand Cup 2022.

Meanwhile, ARFT will finish bottom of the group, even with five points. The second spot is yet to be decided.

Neroca FC and Chennaiyin FC will fight out for the final knockout spot from Group C on Monday, September 5. Hyderabad FC, on the other hand, will be hoping to quickly recover from the loss ahead of the knockouts.

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