| Mike Okoro tries to get past a Railway FC player during their Super Division tie at the East Bengal ground on Monday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta: None expected Railway FC to put up any serious resistance against East Bengal in Monday’s Super Division League match. Still, few thought East Bengal would be 4-0 up by the 29th minute. Even fewer imagined the scoreline would remain unchanged after that.
Toying with the hapless railwaymen, East Bengal added a 4-0 win to their marauding run in the local league to move to 30 points after ten matches. They have scored 33 goals in the process. Railway FC stayed at a modest 12 after ten.
Mike Okoro was the hero of the day, completing a hattrick in 22 minutes. He could have scored four more, but perhaps lost his appetite in the hot and humid conditions and had to be taken off in the 53rd minute. Shylo Malsawmtluanga scored the other goal.
Coach Subhas Bhowmick once again fielded Suley Musah up front, which may suggest he is not too confident about the striking prowess of his native forwards — Raman Vijayan and K. Kulothungan. The meagre amount of time the two have spent on pitch so far substantiates this notion.
As if to prove the validity of this view, Kulothungan took it upon himself to show why Musah is needed in the rival penalty area, even against lesser teams. His miss off a cross from Dipankar Roy in the 67th minute was quite beyond imagination.
But the job, so to say, had been done well before that.
It started in the third minute when Musah headed down a cross from Alvito D’Cunha inside the penalty area.
A scramble for the ball followed and Okoro was the first to reach it. He opened scoring with a right-footed effort.
The second came in the 13th minute. Chandan Das started the move from midfield, releasing Malsawmtluanga down the right. The medio, quite often a threat on that corridor, essayed a centre for Okoro to head home.
The hattrick was completed in the 22nd minute. Okoro received a stray ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a volley to beat goalkeeper Sandipan Mitra.
It took the Nigerian’s tally to seven and all these goals have come from the last three games. Only Bhutia (nine goals) and Dipendu Biswas (8) are ahead of Okoro on the list of goal scorers.
There was a bad news in the East Bengal camp as well. D’Cunha went into a dangerous tussle for the ball with rival goalkeeper and got himself injured in the 83rd minute.
He came off and since three substitution had already been made, East Bengal played with ten men for the last seven minutes. Coach Subhas Bhowmick said it was a groin injury, caused probably because the player had over-stretched.
Chances of a muscle tear have not been ruled out. Tests reports will be available on Tuesday and if it is a tear, the star attacker may well be out for several weeks.
East Bengal: Sandip Nandy (Jitu Chhetri, 70); Dipak Mondal, M. Suresh, Mahesh Gawli; Surya Bikash Chakraborty, Chandan Das, Dipankar Roy, Alvito D’Cunha, Suley Musah, Shylo Malsawmtluanga (Sujay Dutta, 33), Mike Okoro (K. Kulothungan, 53).
Railway FC: Sandipan Mitra; Amalendu Midha, Sundar Mandi (Subhraneel Dutta, 28), Shankar Das, Depayan Majumdar; Gourab Dutta, Debabrata Roy (Dulal Patra, 64), Dinesh Sur, Suraj Mondal, Subhankar Maity, Uttam Debnath.
Referee: Debashis Mishra.