Churchill through to Durand Cup semisAugust 31st, 2008 - 8:11 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) Defending champions Churchill Brothers became the second team to book Durand Cup semi-final berth while Mahindra United’s chances suffered a setback after they were held 1-1 by city rivals Mumbai FC in the quarter-final league match here Saturday.Churchill defeated Army XI 1-0 for their second consecutive win and now top Group I with six points after the second round of matches. Ogba Kalu Nnanna scored the winner for the Goan team in the 41st minute.
A win would have taken Mahindra to the knock-out stage but after splitting points they slipped from the top spot and are now lying second with four points. Mumbai FC are third with one point and Army XI is at the bottom.
Mahindra will now need a draw in their next match Tuesday to qualify for the semis while it is all over for Mumbai FC and even a win won’t take them to the next stage.
Last year’s runners-up Mahindra took an early lead in the fourth minute through a Mohammed Rafi strike. Mumbai FC drew parity with Felix Aboagye converting a penalty seconds before the breather.
Mahindra, after their inspiring 3-0 win against Army XI in their first match, lacked the verve in the first half despite taking the lead. They, however, made some attacking moves in the second half but could not find the elusive winner.
Mumbai FC’s good job in the first half could not be complemented upfront due to the absence of a better striker. Their main forward Abhishek Yadav hardly went for any ariel tackle to get the crosses. It was Aseem. K who did all the legwork and prised open the Mahindra defence but failed to get past Amit Nandi, who replaced an injured Subhasish Roy Chowdhury under the bar.
In the later stages of the first half, Mumbai FC accelerated their pace and found a chance to equalise in the injury time when Aseem was brought down in the box. Referee Dinesh Nair didn’t hesitate to give a penalty and Aboagye converted to draw parity.
Mahindra stepped up the gas in the second half to break the deadlock but were disappointed when Edeh Chidi’s goal was ruled off-side. Subsitute Suhsil Singh created some flutters in the Mumbai FC defence but couldn’t find the winner.
With 25 minutes left for the stoppage time, Mahindra found two opportunities squandered in quick successions. First it was Justine Stepehn’s header, which was saved by Mumbai FC goalie Kalyan Choubey and few seconds later the goalkeeper’s heroics saved Sukhwinder Singh’s scorching right-footer from 25 yards.
As time passed by, the veteran Choubey found himself in the thick of things as he thwarted a swerving free-kick by Douhous Pierre in the 78th minute and another pile driver from Sukhwinder.