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Mohd Sporting rally to hold Air India
March 17, 2007 21:33 IST
Mohammedan Sporting rallied from 0-2 down, to secure a 3-3 draw against Air India in the ONGC National Football League, at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
Biswajit Bhattacharjee had been an unassuming coach, but his reading of the game and planning was excellent. On Saturday he showed why he was one of the favourite students of former India coach Ciric Milovan of the erstwhile Yugoslavia.
Air India began on a positive note and took the lead in the 37th minute. Samson Singh took advantage of a flat-footed Rajib Ahmed and scored. He doubled the lead in the 52nd minute, thanks to another defensive error.
In fact, both Sporting's wing-backs, Ahmed and Farooq Hayder, had a bad day that let the airmen use the flanks to good effect.
However, Bhattacharjee was not cowed down by the situation. With his side 0-2 down, he had no option but to gamble. He put lanky defender Eric Mputu upfront and the move turned out to be a masterstroke.
The hosts reduced the margin in the 57th minute as Ndem converted a penalty.
Buoyed, they upped the ante with veteran midfielder Basudeb Mondal playing a pivotal role in the midfield. Man-of-the-match Mondal not only restored parity with a pile-driver in the 69th minute, but also initiated some excellent moves with his incisive passing.
Sporting went into the lead in the 74th minute with substitute Raman Vijayan striking. It seemed it would make the difference. But Air India refused to cave in. They mounted pressure on the opposition defence.
The game became end-to-end stuff in the last quarter and the visitors equalised through Bashiree Abbas in the 82nd minute. He took advantage of a misunderstanding between goalkeeper Gopal Das and central defender Madhab Das and pounced on the opportunity.
The result saw Sporting move to seven points from nine matches, while Air India have 12.