Air India flies past Dempo to clash Churchill in Durand semis
Nov 05: Spirited Air India, Mumbai prevailed over defending champions Dempo, Goa 2-1 with an upset win to enter the semifinals, where they will meet another Goan powerhouse Churchill Brothers which outscored Central Railways team 6-1 riding on the five goals scored by Odafe Okolic in the last eight stage matches of the 120 th Osian's Durand Cup played at the Ambedkar stadium here on Saturday.
Air India players instantly got off the blocks and went ahead in the 3rd minute of the game through Sanju D Pradhan, who headed it home after pouncing on a Samson Singh free-kick rebound that came off the post.
After conceding an early goal Dempo players got their act together and launched a series of attacks in the rival citadel. Dempo strikers Ranty Martins and Chidi Edeh came close on many occasions to level the scores but Airmen defenders Nirmal Chettri and Dhanchandra Singh were everytime behind them like a wall keeping them at bay.
Robert Silva, Nicolav Borges did lot of hard work for Dempo in the half-line. Samir Naik searing runs in the right flanks sending precision crosses in the danger area created numerous opportunities for Dempo forwards but all went in vain, as the Air India stoppers held their fort tightly.
But finally the efforts of Dempo players reaped the benefits in the 43rd minute when Samir Naik long cross on the far end was headed back in to the box by Chidi Edeh from zero angle and Nicolav Borges made no mistake in restoring parity by directing it towards the goal with a perfect header.
After the equaliser Dempo players continued to attack Air India's citadel to surge ahead in the match. They were too close on number of times and tested the rival custodian on various occasions but Raju Ekka was tremendous under the bars, as he had saved as many as six goals for his team.
On the other hand Air India was relying on counter moves. The young lot of the Mumbai outfit was running up and down to the ground and Dempo players weren't able to match their pace.
Air India got the decisive lead 2-1 in the 76th minute through Santosh Koli who tapped the ball on the first bounce from the box after receiving a long ball from Paresh Shivalkar from the right flank to seal the fate of the opponents.
Dempo players tried their hard to make a come back in the match but could not succeed in getting past Airmen defence and custodian Raju Ekka.
ODAFE's FIVE IN CURCHILL VICTORY
Churchill Brothers conceded an early goal when Central Railway team took an early lead when penalty was awarded against Churchill Brothers. Kasif Jamal converted the spot kick in the 7 th minute. But they could not hold on long to their lead when Odafe Onyeka Okolie converted a free- kick in the 13 th minute. The 13 th minute proved lucky to him as he went on to add four more goals taking his tally to nine in two matches.
Meanwhile Central Railway could not convert the opportunities that came their way. Churchill Brothers went ahead in the 40 th minute when Odafe tapped the ball over advancing Railway custodian Raghuvir Khanolka.
The second session of play was totally dominated by the Goans. They toyed with the Railwaymen and scored at their will. Odafe struck three more in the 54th, 58th and 82nd minute. Thangjam Singh joined the party with Odafe on the scoring list to round off the tally, when he directed a fine pass from Mboyo Iyomi. Having scored nine goals so far, Odafe has been the highest scorer of the tournament up till now.
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