The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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TFA lapses let JCT through

New Delhi: The New Year didnít bring good news for some, as defensive errors stuck out like a sore thumb in the Pepsi 115th Durand Cup football tournament here Wednesday.

On slushy, slippery surface Tata Football Academy (TFA) dominated proceedings but lost 0-2 due to defensive errors against five-time champions JCT in group A, while Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) Bangalore and Army XI drew 2-2.

Meanwhile both East Bengal and Salgaocar (Goa) arrived in Delhi Wednesday.

East Bengal are without coach Subhas Bhowmick and striker Mike Okoro, said assistant coach Bikash Panji. The two reach here Thursday. East Bengal kick-off against Air India in a group B match Saturday.

Army XI shot ahead in the 17th minute, when ITI right back Akshay Das tripped striker Pritam Bahadur in the box. Striker Raghu Kumar converted the resultant penalty. Eight minutes later ITI equalised as Ghanaian recruit Ibrahim Karim sped down the right flank, cut in and scored with a grounder.

ITI forged ahead in the 34th minute with a gift goal. Former international striker Mohammed Najeeb, recovering from injury sent a measured cross, from the left. Army XIís stopper Ignatious, in trying to clear, deflected the ball into his own net.

With former international Tajinder Kumar and right midfielder James Singh controlling proceedings, ITI were cruising to victory. However their international custodian N. Balaji, gave a New Yearís Day present to Army XI. He dived late and allowed midfielder Johnny Gangmeiís innocuous top of the box left footer to creep in.

JCTís first goal came in the 39th minute from Hardip Gill. Gill was involved in the second goal too, when he was tripped by Habibur Rahman Mondal in the penalty area. Referee Pradeep Kumar had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Hardip Saini converted in the 83rd minute.

Meanwhile, Mohammedan Sportingís Liberian forward Eugene Grayís international clearance certificate hasnít arrived and his playing in the Durand Cup is unlikely.

Thursdayís matches: Assam Regimental Centre vs PSEB; Air India vs MEG Bangalore.

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