Churchill storm into quarters - George Ekeh nets a brace in 3-0 win over Air India
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- Published 22.12.06
Calcutta: For a change, the Reds were not the devil here. And the Whites (Churchill Brothers) which made the Reds (Air-India) grim-faced in the end.
Back to back goals, coupled with some fine showing from the Nigerian duo (Odafe Onyeka Okolie and Nigerian striker George Ekeh) which included a brace from the latter saw Churchill Brothers clip Air India’s wings 3-0. The latter’s dream of making the last-eight stage in the in the Peerless 28 th Federation Cup Football Tournament at Salt Lake Stadium crash-landed Thursday.
Just before the match settled, Okolie led a solo charge beating the off-coloured Air India defenders. From the extreme left of the goalpost, the Nigerian was given some resistance from the Air-India custodian Ehthesham Ahmed but the former won the battle, producing a sharp strike .
Before you could blink after the first goal, Air-India found another to compound their miseries. This time it was fellow Nigerian Ekeh who, in the eighth minute, invaded the Air-India’s defence to shoot the tally to 2-0.
The back-to-back strikes were enough to weaken Air-India’s mental approach, as the Goans were breathing fire with a 56 per cent first-half possession.
Just on the edge of the break, the Odafe-Ekeh lethal combination provided another treat. Odafe’s pass (in the 41st minute) from the right was spot on and Ekeh did nothing wrong to put it in the right slot. And, Ekeh did acknowledge his brace to fellow Nigerian, pointing his finger in reciprocation.
Ekeh did get a chance to convert his effort into a hattrick, but for Ehthesham Ahmed who denied the former of the milestone in the second-half. Ekeh does rue on missing out on that. “Yes, a bit unhappy…but in all I’m happy especially for my teammates and the Odafe, who supported me well,” said Ekeh at the post-match media conference. However, for the captain Odafe, the win was very special. “It was like reaching the final,” he said.
Bimal Ghosh’s boys, however, were a different bunch in the second-half. With Benoy Kuruvilla leading the attack, Air-India looked regrouped, but they just “fell short to convert their chances” as the coach, Bimal, puts it. Four minutes before the final whistle, Benoy made a superb effort but his shot hit the crosspiece.
Conceding that the Churchill Brothers played a better first half, Bimal said: “We had chances in the second… the scoreline could have easily been 3-3, had we converted chances. But our defenders were miserable…”
Churchill Brothers: Vinay Singh, Robert Lalthalamvana, Nicmolas Muvoti, Vinu Jose, Tmokchom Naoba Singh, Zenith Genius Masmangva, Thokchom Bungo Singh, Chandam Singh, Raju D. (Khan Thang Paite 80), George Ekeh, Odafe Onyeka Okolie.
Air India: Ehthesham Ahmed, Santosh Koli, Benoy Kurovilla, Abiodom Kolawaie Martins, Femi Joseph Adeola, Uttam Singh, Hritigsolal Thomte (Zaheer Abbas 37), Vijith Shetty (Mirohito Elangbam 84), Paresh Shivalkar, Samson Singh (Sanju Pradhan 58), Bashiru M. Abbas.
Referee: Subrata Sarkar.