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Maiden crown for Mahindra
- Md. Sporting pay for missing sitters

Calcutta, Aug. 9: Mahindra United finally returned to the history books, with an opportunistic 1-0 win over a dominant Mohammedan Sporting in the final of the Tata Federation Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday evening.

It was also a penalty that the home team paid for messing up at least three clean opportunities in the first half in which they virtually ran over their rivals. A counterattack in the 78th minute caught the Mohammedan Sporting defence on the wrong foot, S. Venkatesh booting home the winner.

The champions return with a purse of Rs 10 lakh, Mohammedan Sporting winning Rs 6 lakh. Vasco, who won the Fairplay Trophy, got Rs 25,000.

This was the first time the Mumbai club won the trophy, from three final entries. The last two occasions they were in the title round were in 1991 and in 1993.

The pace of the Mohammedan Sporting attack this day was remarkable. It was an inspired display. Right wingback Amjad Ali Khan was overlapping in aid, Bungo Singh was scorching the midline, and Syed Rahim Nabi was carrying charges in pace, as Dipendu waited to slot home.

It was also to Mohammedan Sporting’s credit that they were able to disturb the excellent combination the Mahindra half-line had developed in this meet. This was achieved through some clever marking of Khalid Jamil, S. Venkatesh and James Singh, the key movers. With the half-line feed lacking bulk, the attack went lean. Also, the Mumbai team’s defence was weak, and lethargic.

On Mohammedan Sporting’s part, there were criminal misses. In the 11th minute Dipendu failed to make contact with a high lob from the rear, Sheikh Sanjib shot over from close with nobody to beat after he was put in charge in the box by Rahim Nabi from the right in the 23rd minute, and, five minutes later, Dipendu failed to convert a simple centre at the goalmouth.

That was more than a handful for coach Mohammed Habeeb. He realised the team would not be able to keep up its pace in the second half and, surely enough, Mahindra coach David Booth spurred his defence on to the half-line’s help and Mahindra performed rather better in the second half.

That is not to say Mohammedan Sporting did not get any good chances in the latter session of play, but the rival lines seemed more fortified and their exhaustion wasn’t helping anyway. James was being able to shoot, with Mohammedan Sporting ’keeper K.M. Refeek coming up with a good save on one occasion.

Then, in the 78th minute-counterattack, Odartey Lawson was up the left, toeing into the box. James took a shy at goal and it was poorly saved by Refeek who had charged out. The ball spilled out and Venkatesh slotted home from close.

TEAMS

Mahindra United: Sunder Rajan, Covan Lawrence, Sanjay Parte, Odartey Lawson, Arun Malhotra, Rauf Khan, Khalid Jamil (Mongba Aby Samson, 69), S. Venkatesh (Steven Dias, 90), Jules Dias Alberto, Raphael Patron Akakpo (Abhisek Yadab, 89), James Singh.

Mohammedan Sporting: K.M. Refeek, Amjad Ali Khan, Hussain Mustafi, Madhab Das, Aman Deep Singh, Bungo Singh, Satish Bharti, Shahnaz Iqbal, Syed Rahim Nabi, Sheikh Sanjib (Arjan Ali, 82), Dipendu Biswas.

Referee: S. Suresh (Tamil Nadu).

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