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Mohd Sporting rally to down JCT
January 05, 2007 16:55 IST
Last Updated: January 05, 2007 22:42 IST
Habibur Rahman Mondal struck in the dying minutes to snatch a 2-1 victory for Mohammedan Sporting against a superior JCT in the inaugural match of the 11th National Football League in New Delhi on Friday.
Goals from Kulothungon (67th minute) and Mondal (89th) cancelled out the solitary strike from Renedy Singh (29th) to start Mohammedan's campaign with three points at the Ambedkar stadium.
JCT had only themselves to blame as they dominated the encounter for long periods, especially in the first half, but had only one goal to show for their efforts.
The team from Punjab was on the offensive from the beginning and came close in the sixth minute but Nigerian Adebayo Adewusi's header off a Renedy Singh free-kick came back off the crossbar.
JCT were denied once again in the 15th minute when the impressive Sunil Chetri created space for himself at the edge of the box but his powerful strike was tipped over the crossbar by Mohammedan custodian Gopal Das.
From the resulting corner, taken by Renedy, captain Chidi Edeh rose high but directed his header just wide.
But JCT took a deserved lead near the half-hour mark when Chetri was fouled outside the penalty area on the left flank by A S Feroze; Renedy stepped up and sent a beautifully curled shot into the top corner, evading Gopal Das, who was leaning towards the centre expecting a cross.
Mohammedan coach Subhash Bhowmik sensed that his team was struggling and took off inexperienced defender Shyam Mondal and brought on Surojit Bose.
They had only one chance before half-time but JCT keeper Kalyan Chaubey came out to fist a hopeful long ball from Harbinder Singh. The rebound fell to Bijen Singh, whose shot was saved on the line by Anwar.
Bhowmik brought on Kulothungon at the start of the second half and it brought life into the team's play.
JCT were made to pay for their wastefulness when Noel Wilson chipped a long ball from the centre line and Kulothungon got behind the defence to chip the ball past Chaubey for the equaliser.
The goal lifted the spirits of Mohammedan Sporting and their supporters and they stole victory with a minute left on the clock.
Bijen Singh and Jatin Singh Bisht capitalised on some confusion in the JCT defence, which allowed the latter to chip a probing cross into the danger area. Habibur Rahman Mondal met it with an angular header that beat Chaubey's outstreched hand and found the corner of the net.
Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the tournament.
"We need to professionalise the football set up in the country so that we can rise at the international level in the sport," he said.
Singh said India had long tradition in the game but had fallen back in recent times.
"We have rich history in football. We have done well in the Olympics and Asiad but have not been able to keep pace with time in the current years. Efforts need to be made to redress the situation," he said.
He lauded the sponsors supporting the game in the country and said their efforts are much valued.
"It is good that private sponsors are coming in football. It is heartening that they are also supporting games other than cricket," he said.
He also referred to FIFA's proposed special plan for raising football standards in India and hoped that it would bear fruits.
The Prime Minister said he had discussed the topic of raising the football standards in India during his visit to Brazil last year and hoped that there would be cooperation with the South American country.
"I hope federations of both the countries are following up on this," he said.
He also interacted with the Asian Games medal winners employed with ONGC, the sponsors of the NFL.