SPORT

ITI puts it past FC Kochin

KOCHI, DEC. 27. ITI, Bangalore, after three successive draws, finally tasted success in the VI National Football League defeating FC Kochin through two second-half goals at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday. The win for the Bangalore side, in more ways than one, was a befitting reward for the steely resolve it showed in the final session of play when the winds seemed steadily blowing against it.

The setback, FC Kochin's second in four matches, was of its own making. Having had enough chances to outwit its rival, The Kochi team once again proved itself to be short of class.

The action during the first session of play was more or less even, with either side taking up turns to push their cause forward. Yet, if the Kochi side seemed to lose its way near to the midfield time and again, the Bangalore side clearly lacked consistency in sewing up moves that would have threatened the rival defence.

Indeed, the rather insipid display that came from Mikola Schevchenko and Mohammed Shafeeq was quite surprising. With Noushad and Martin C. Mathew too being far from comfortable when attacked closely in the one-to-one man struggle, the local side often looked to be a rudderless ship.

In the given circumstances, if one hoped ITI to simply run over the local side, the Bangalore outfit too hardly lived up to the expectations as it failed to mount pressure on the Kochi defence through the flanks. Such a ploy definitely would have brought it quick rewards as its striking pair of George Ekeh and Kenneth Onu who even otherwise did prove to be a constant menace to their shadows.

Incredibly, FC Kochin almost rattled its rival against the run of play twice before the first-half ended. Both these opportunities came from lobs produced by Schevchenko and Obinna Winners but Josiah Seton's attempt to plant the ball into the ITI net on both the occasions were wide off the mark. Roopesh who came in overlapping also tested Balaji with a stiff long-ranger before Schevchenko and Noushad picked up yellow cards that have now ruled them out for the next encounter.

FC Kochin started the second session on a high note before Seton missed another straight forward opportunity to score. However, as time ticked by, the Bangalore side suddenly took control and shot itself into the lead through Onu who fooled Ali Abubacker with a slow chipped shot into the far corner of the Kochi net from the right.

Three minutes later, Onu was again on target as he met a substitute Andrew Louis cross from the left, found his way past two defenders and conquered Ali Abubacker with a right-footed volley. FC Kochin had no reply to the twin strikes of Onu even as ITI retreated into defending its citadel.