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Mahindra United finish third
May 14, 2004 20:06 IST
Federation Cup champions Mahindra United beat Tollygunge Agragami 3-2 in their concluding match to finish third in the eighth National Football League.
At the Cooperage, in Mumbai, on Friday, Mahindra led 3-1 at half-time.
Mahindra finished with 41 points, behind champions East Bengal of Kolkata (49 points) and Goa's Dempo Sports Club (45).
Despite the loss Tollygunge, who have 20 points to their credit, managed to avert relegation as Mohammedan Sporting lost to Dempo 2-3 in Margao, Goa, in another match, and was relegated.
Mahindra United winger Syed Altafuddin opened the account when he found the mark off medio S Venkatesh's cross in the 20th minute.
Ten minutes later Tollygunge equalised when an unmarked Jiten Rai, on top of the box, scored with a stinging right-footer.
Five minutes later Mahindra striker Raphael Patron Akakpo scored off a rebound with Tollygunge goalkeeper Chinmoy Banerjee out of position.
Winger Felix Aboagye had taken the first shot, which ricocheted to Akakpo.
With five minutes to go for the interval Altafuddin again found the target off an Aboagye pass.
The only goal in the second half came in the 50th minute when Tollygunge skipper and striker Akeem Abolanlee coverted a penalty after Mahindra substitute custodian S Rajan brought down winger Guranga Dutta inside the box.
The margin of Mahindra's victory would have been bigger but for Tollygunge defender Kabijit Khotel, who effected two magnificent goalline saves within a span of ten minutes.
First Khotel came to the rescue when Felix's header went dangerously close to the mark in the 15th minute and then he saved Altafuddin's try in the 25th minute.
Tollygunge got a last opportunity to equalize in the 80th minute but Abolanlee's attempt was well saved by Rajan.
Both teams made three changes each. Mahindra brought in Rajan for international goalkeeper Naseem Akhtar in the 46th minute, then Steven Dias came in for Venkatesh in the 60th minute and lastly Hekmat Singh replaced skipper Khalid Jamil in the 80th minute.
The visitors brought in S K Habib Ali for Jiten Rai (35th minute), Goutam Debnath came in for Habib Ali (65th minute) and Manik Burman replaced Nepoleon Singh in the 70th minute.