|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Air India deny Sporting Clube win with late goal
Mario Rodrigues | January 12, 2007 19:14 IST
Substitute Naredra Meetei snatched a dramatic add-on time equaliser to help Air-India snatch a point from a dominant Sporting Clube de Goa in a second round ONGC National Football League match at the Cooperage in Mumbai on Thursday.
The 1-1 tie helped the Goan outfit to open their account while the airmen took their tally to four points and third position behind Churchill Brothers and Mahindra United, who also have the same number of points.
In another match in Goa, Dempo routed Mohammedan Sporting 5-0.
Earlier, a glaring lapse helped Sporting Clube take the lead in the 69th minute when the Air-India central defence shockingly let an innocuous ball from the right by substitute Nicolau Borges get past them.
Dangerman Dudu Omagbemi, who was lurking in the penalty area, sneaked through and beat onrushing goalkeeper Raju Ekka with a deft flick.
This lapse undid all the fine work that the Air-India defence had done throughout the match to keep the roving Nigerian pair of Dudu and Ernest Jeremiah bay.
It was Ekka who also saved the day for the airmen as he acrobatically kept out stiff tries by Dudu and Bello Rasaq, playing in an unfamiliar position as defensive midfielder.
Raju also made a lucky save in the 87th minute when he rushed back to his charge in the nick of time to prevent an opportunistic long lob from the centre-line by Mathew Gonsalves from going in.
The match itself was a scrappy affair that entailed the flashing of thee yellow cards by referee Mohammed Kamil and failed to rise to the desired heights as a spectacle.
Air-India's disruptionist tactics and their over-reliance on the long ball also contributed much to the monotony. On the other hand, the uneven ground conditions prevented the superior Goan side from unveiling their smart short-passing game.
The visitors played with a revamped midfield, bringing on their stalwarts Borges and Harmanjot Khabra only in the second half when they were able to stamp their authority on the turf.
But Bimal Ghosh's last throw of the dice, brining in Meetei in the 77th minute to replace defender Noel Fernandes, paid off and Air-India found their attacking rhythm that was missing earlier.
A swift counter attack from the right flank in added on time saw Bashiru Abbas flicking on a cross from Santosh Kohli to Meetei, positioned at the far post, who nodded the ball home to deny the Goan side their first win.
Air-India take on Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd at home in the third round on January 16 while Sporting Clube lock horns with Dempo on January 18 in an all-Goa derby.