Sreenidi Deccan’s aspirations of being the sole Hero I-League side to reach the Hero Super Cup 2023 semi-finals were dashed on the pitch of Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri on Sunday night, April 16, 2023. As they were defeated by RoundGlass Punjab on a lone goal scored by Valpuia off a header.
RoundGlass Punjab, the other I-League team from Group A, could not advance due to the three points they collected. But they played the ideal spoiler by forcing the Hyderabad side to take an early flight home.
While the two Hero I-League teams battled it out in Manjeri. Eventually bowing out of the league, Bengaluru FC seized the semi-final berth from this group. Drawing 1-1 with Kerala Blasters to make the grade with five points.
RoundGlass won the just finished Hero I-League. Followed by Sreenidi Deccan, who, while being early in the points table. But collapsed in the final stages to cede the crown. On Sunday, the Punjab side dominated the first half and seized the lead four minutes before halftime.
Valpuia soared high in the air to outwit the defenders. And tip the ball in after the Punjab side got a free kick on the right. While all eyes were on Sreenidi and their chances of reaching the last four, the Hyderabad side lacked the will to go for the kill. Their first meaningful chance came in the 33rd minute. Colombian David Castaneda squared the ball for Nigerian Rilwan Hassan. But the latter’s first-timer was stopped admirably by Punjab keeper Kiran Kumar Limbu.
The struggle in the second half became more heated than it had been in the first 45 minutes. With both sides attempting to control the midfield. RoundGlass had an opportunity to extend their lead in the 62nd minute. But Sreenidi custodian Aryan Niraj Lamba had to work hard to keep Slovakian Luka Majcen at bay. He may have been defeated on the rebound. But he breathed a sigh of relief when Krishnanda Singh fired the ball over the bar.
With 20 minutes remaining, frantic Sreenidi coach Carlos Vaz Pinto made three substitutions, bringing in Asraf Ali Mondal, Louis Ogana, and Chhunga, which increased the pressure on the opposing defenders, but the equaliser remained unattainable. Chhunga shot a low volley with a goal written all over it in the 86th minute, but Kiran came to his team’s rescue once more with a wonderful stop. That was the last time Sreenidi could really jeopardise RoundGlass’s goal.
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