HASC joins ONGC in top division

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DOING HIS BIT:Satish Kumar (right) helped HASC secure a draw against Sesa and enter the first division of the I-League after a gap of three years.
DOING HIS BIT:Satish Kumar (right) helped HASC secure a draw against Sesa and enter the first division of the I-League after a gap of three years.

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Local challenger Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club (HASC) laboured to a draw against Goa's Sesa FC on Monday, but it was enough to put the team back among the I-League elite after three years in the wilderness.

At the football stadium, HASC, needing at least a draw to reach the top flight again, came from behind to share two goals and points with Sesa in their second division match.

This result turned the encounter between Vasco SC and Mohammedan Sporting into an inconsequential one as a defeat for HASC could have helped Vasco sneak through on better goal difference.

Vasco and Sporting played out a 1-1 draw.

Dream come true

“It's been a dream since I took over before the Federation Cup in 2008. We missed the bus last time but achieved it now,” said an elated HASC coach M. Muralidharan.

The match began on a cautious note with tight marking on both sides.

While HASC looked content playing at a normal pace and looking for openings, Sesa was aggressive but lacked the wherewithal to drill holes.

However, in the 29th minute Selwyn Fernandes leapt to meet an Israil Gurung cross from the right and directed it home. With Xavier Vijayakumar not his usual self and Nigerian Fredrick Okwagbe complacent, it was left to young Satish Kumar (Jr) to find the equaliser with a brilliant effort.

In the 44th minute, the nippy striker pounced on a back-heel from Fredrick, cut into the top of the box and sent in a curling left-footer that struck the far post and entered the net. The celebrations began in the HASC camp.

After change of ends, HASC saw more of the ball but Xavier failed to capitalise on the couple of opportunities that came his way. However, with the defence holding firm, it was relief and cheer for HASC at the end of the game.

Sharing the honours

In the second match, Vasco posed a few threats early on and went 1-0 up through Joel Sequeira in the 35th minute. It eased on the pedal in the second half, enabling the Kolkata side to snatch a point. Captain Jothi Kumar levelled the score with a 67th-minute strike.

ONGC and HASC are level with 16 points but the Mumbai side has a match in hand. Even a draw against NISA (Manipur) on Tuesday will give ONGC the top spot.

Vasco and Sporting finished their engagements with 13 and 10 points respectively, while Sesa had three — all from seven matches.

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