New Delhi: Lively in attack but fragile in defence, Haywards Sporting, Goa sparkled in their 5-2 defeat of State Bank of Travancore (SBT), Kerala, in their second division National Football League (NFL) final round opener.
Spearheaded by lively Nigerians Dudu Omagbemi and Amaechi Nwabunwane, Haywards led 4-1 at half time. Dudu scored three (not a hattrick) while Amaechi and left-half Joseph Pereira completed the scoreline. For SBT S. Ignatius scored once in each half.
SBT got off to a dream start. Following a defensive error, striker Ignatius slotted in from the top box. Stung, Haywards launched numerous attacks with the roving Dudu and Amaechi harassing the static SBT defence.
Sustained pressure enabled the Goa side to equalise in the 23rd minute. Playmaker Bibiano Fernandez’s curling cross was headed over by Amaechi over SBT’s advancing custodian. Two minutes later, right back Ajay Diwadkar’s probing pass put Dudu through and he bulged the net from close.
Just before the breather, Sporting scored twice. Nippy Joseph’s stunning first-time effort from the left edge of the box, following Dudu’s reverse pass was a delight to behold. A minute later Dudu made it 4-1.
SBT regrouped in the second half with some clever possession play. Following a combined move, winger N.P. Pradeep sent a measured cross to Ignatius, who scored in the 52nd minute with a right-footed flick. Dudu, in the 67th minute sped through from the half line, rounded the goalkeeper and scored.
Md. Sp. to adopt 4-3-3
Impressed by Hayward’s display, Mohammedan Sporting coach Mohammed Habeeb will opt for an attacking 4-3-3 formation against Air India.
He feels that it is essential that his team starts with a win. Air India are unknown quantity for the Calcutta giants, as the two have not met this season.
Habeeb has decided to drop veteran Nigerian stopper back Habib Adekunle. Ghanaian newcomer Ishau Yaro and skipper Hussein Mustafi will play as central defenders.