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Churchill regains Durand Cup

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THAT WINNING FEELING: It is all smiles for the Churchill Brothers team, which clinched the Durand Cup.
THAT WINNING FEELING: It is all smiles for the Churchill Brothers team, which clinched the Durand Cup.

Special Correspondent

Odafe’s extra-time hat-trick lays Bagan low

It is Churchill’s second successive win over Mohun Bagan

The Goan team had earlier won the trophy in 2007

NEW DELHI: Mohun Bagan had to stop just one man in a team game. It failed miserably.

Okolie Odafe’s sterling performance, three goals in the span of nine minutes, gave Churchill Brothers the Durand Cup at the Ambedkar Stadium. Churchill Brothers won 3-1 after conceding the lead, all goals coming in the extra time session.

This was Churchill Brothers’ second successive win over Mohun Bagan after the 2-0 triumph in the IFA Shield recently. Tuesday’s victory saw the Goan team regain the trophy it won in 2007.

Dominating

True, Churchill Brothers won after dominating the match from the kick off and the star of the night was the irrepressible Odafe.

It was known that Odafe and Edeh Chidi were the men to watch. Chidi headed in from a crowd in the 94th minute to give Mohun Bagan the lead.

It only stirred Odafe, who had all the while looked the only player capable of swinging the game on individual brilliance. And he did.

Typical Odafe

His first goal (99th minute) was typical of Odafe, shaking off two defenders without hustle and driving the ball into a corner. The second (104th minute) was a header in a goalmouth melee caused by a rebound.

He rounded off in style four minutes later with a solo burst. Mohun Bagan lay in tatters while Churchill Brothers celebrated. It was a far better team than the opposition.

After some mediocre fare, the game came alive only in the closing stages. In the 83rd minute Odafe, challenged in front of the goal by Mukherjee, missed and hit the turf. Churchill Brothers demanded penalty but referee P. K. Bose only signalled a flag kick.

The marking assignments were well-planned and well-executed. Odafe was hardly given the freedom to take a clear view of the Mohun Bagan goal. He did manage to shake off his marker, an obdurate Deepak Mondal, a couple of times but the target remained elusive.

Initial salvo

The initial salvo came halfway through the session from Mohun Bagan when Micky Fernandes found himself in possession on the edge of the box. His hurried shot flew past a diving Arindam Bhattacharya. Churchill Brothers organized its defence and organized it well.

Naoba Singh marshalled the right and Robert Lalthalma plugged the gaps on the left. Gourmangi Singh and Rowilson Rodrigues were not averse to move up and assist the untiring duo of Ogba Kalu and Khanthang Paite. But the onus, like always, remained on Odafe.

Mohun Bagan had done its homework well. With Mondal playing his heart out, Odafe found the going tough. Scoring was not going to be an east task tonight. But he nearly scored when a counter-attack saw him outpace Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee to the ball. He lobbed it over but the ball hit the crosspiece. This was in the 44th minute. Four minutes earlier, Snehasish Chakraborty made a goal-line save off a strong header by Kalu from a flag kick.

Rai messes up

In early second half, Odafe set it up for Charan Rai but the drive was well blocked by Mukherjee on his left. Rai messed up again when he took a hurried shot from well inside the box even as an unmarked Paite pleaded for the ball on his left.

It was the best chance that Churchill Brothers had courtesy a sensational through ball by Odafe. The burly Nigerian finally took upon himself the job of scoring and burying Mohun Bagan.

The teams:

Churchill Brothers: Arindam Bhattacharya, Naoba Singh (Naveen Sudhakaran), Rowilson Rodrigues, Gourmangi Singh, Robert Lalthalma, Charan Rai, Nacimento Silveira (Lenny Rodrigues), Ogba Kalu, Khanthang Paite (Jaison Vales), Okolie Odafe and Reisangmei Vashum.

Mohun Bagan: Sangram Mukherjee, Surkumar Singh, Deepak Mondal, Rakesh Masih, Nallappan Mohanraj (Branco Cardozo), James Singh (Subhojit Majumdar), Micky Fernandes, Perumal Kulothungan, Snehashis Chakraborty, Jose Ramirez Barreto and Edeh Chidi.

Referee: P. K. Bose; Assistant referees: Dinesh Nair and A. Rowan.

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