| Okolie Odafe |
Pune: Mumbai FC played an inspiring match to hold Calcutta giants Mohun Bagan to a 1-1 draw in a Round VII encounter of the I-League at the Balewadi Sports Complex Stadium, here, on Sunday.
In a match that was billed as contest between the wits of Karim Bencharifa and Khalid Jamil, the Mumbai coach had the last laugh when his boys played riveting football in the second half to first equalise and then restricting their much accomplished opponents from scoring any more goals.
It was Okolie Odafe who had put Mohun Bagan in the lead in the 21st minute. Abhishek Yadav found the equaliser in the 62nd minute to give Mumbai FC hopes and no doubt Khalid’s boys responded then on with gusto.
The draw nonetheless helped Mohan Bagan move up one place to No. 5 with 11 points, same as Pailan Arrows. Mumbai FC too moved up to No 8 with seven points, a result that the home team will savour for some time.
With fans from both teams making a beeline — Mumbai FC’s ploy to get in supporters to outnumber Bagan fans paid well as the team seemed to take cue from the stands once the equaliser was scored.
But the start wasn’t as good for Mumbai FC. Mohun Bagan had a plan and Odafe was central to Bencharifa’s set up. The trio of Biswajit Saha, Odafe and Snehashish Chakraborty showed good understanding between themselves. Sheikh Jewel Raja moved up and down controlling the ball with panache.
Mumbai FC had little to show at the start, but for striker Evans Quao’s 50-yard shot that boomed over the bar without causing any stir.
Then there was a defensive lapse from Bagan and Ghanaian striker Yusif Yakubu saw the opening and charged from right. Bagan were lucky as their goalkeeper Shilton Paul just about managed to punch the ball out.
Having tested Mumbai FC for 20 minutes or so, Bagan found the chance to go up when the rival skipper Haroon Amiri fouled on Snehashish Chakraborty. (agencies)