Air India [ Images ] and Mohammedan Sporting held their respective opponents to draws to remain in contention for semi-final berths in the 114th IFA Shield football tournament in Kolkata [ Images ] on Wednesday.
In a Group B match, played at Mohun Bagan ground, I-League champions Churchill Brothers found the going tough against Mohammedan Sporting as the local side, boosted by home support, held the Goans 1-1.
Having won their first match against Shillong Lajong FC, Mohammedan Sporting now lead their group with four points. Churchill Brothers have to beat Lajong in their last group match by a good margin to secure a last four berth.
The scenario was similar in Group D, as Air India held star-studded A S Douanes of Senegal to a goalless draw at Howrah Municipal stadium.
Having registered a 2-1 win over Pune FC in their opener, Air India lead with four points from two matches. The Senegalese outfit now has to beat Pune FC by a better goal margin to qualify for the semi-finals.
The Goans fielded almost the same side that won the I-League last season, but displayed a lackluster show.
Their ace striker Odafe Okolie, who was the I-League's top scorer, looked a shadow of himself and failed to make much headway through the tight Mohammedan Sporting defence, led by Peter Odafe.
After a cautious start, Churchill took the lead through Reisangmei Vashum, whose powerful half-volley from inside the box off a right flank centre bulged the net in the 27th minute.
Two minutes later the home side drew parity when a combined move saw Peter Odafe release an accurate centre into the Churchill box. Mohammedan striker Dipendu Biswas, who was lurking inside unmarked, scored with a fine header to equalise.
At Howrah, A S Dounaes played with five national players -- Ousmane Sarr, Karamba B Y Diallo, Babacar Ndour, Issa Ndiaye and substitute Pape Ansoumane Biaye -- but found the going tough in their first appearance in India.
The club from Senegal, a country ranked 84th in FIFA [ Images ] rankings, may appear favourites to win the title, but they have a tough task after the airmen held them goalless.
The Senegalese outfit has one point and now have to beat Pune FC by at least two goals to make the semis.
The five-time Senegal Premier League and six-time Senegal FA Cup champions, AS Douanes failed to convert in goalmouth action, even as their tall players impressed with clinical passes and headers in mid-field.
The match might have failed to yield a result, but it was full of incidents, referee Minangshu Bhattacharya showing as many as eight yellow cards -- six of them to Air India.