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Rediff.com  » Sports » Fed Cup: Lajong stun Churchill, enter final

Fed Cup: Lajong stun Churchill, enter final

December 30, 2009 20:30 IST

Shillong's Lajong Football Club continued their giant killing spree as they shocked I-League champions Churchill Brothers 1-0 to book their maiden final berth in the Federation Cup football tournament in Guwahati.

In-form Sheikhohao Tuboi scored the all-important goal in the 29th minute to give the Northeastern side their first title round appearance of any major domestic tournament.

Churchill though squandered a penalty just after the Lajong goal with their star striker and captain Odafe Onyeka Okolie missing the target from the spot in the 35th minute.

Wednesday's win at the packed Nehru Stadium, the biggest upset of the tournament, proved that Lajong's earlier win over another top club Dempo in the group stages was no fluke.

The Shillong side, who are participating in the tournament for the first time after being promoted to the I-League from the second division, will now take on the winner of the second semi-final between defending champions Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on Thursday.

It is nothing sort of a fairytale story for Lajong who now are in contention for an AFC Cup appearance in their first year in the big league.

Churchill, who were aiming their third title of the season after IFA Shield and Durand Cup triumphs, had the better ball possession and dominated the match but Lajong defence held forth remarkably well after Tuboi had put his side ahead.

The Shillong boys kept Churchill goal machine Odafe in check for most part of the match, though the Nigerian was not at his best after wasting the penalty kick.

In the 11th minute, Churchill went close to scoring but midfielder Ogba Kalu's shot off a pass from Odafe was too feeble to trouble Lajong goalkeeper Gumpe Rime.

Just as Churchill looked like gradually taking control of the game, came the shocker in the 29th minute. Tuboi chested down a cross from the right by James Giblee and dodged past Naoba Singh before unleashing a right footer past Churchill goalkeeper Lalit Thapa to the wild cheer of their fans who came down here from the soccer-crazy Meghalaya capital.

Six minutes later, Churchill could have restored parity but Odafe failed to convert the spotkick after he was brought down by Niwano Gatpoh inside the Lajong box.

The second half also saw Churchill dominating with more ball possessions and raids into the rival citadel but Lajong defence was equal to the task.

Odafe, who has not been in the best of form in this tournament, looked like a tired leg with not much coming from him. It was not his day today as the Nigerian prolific scorer, left unmarked in the second minute of the injury time, shot wide from inside the Lajong box to sum a bad in office day for Churchill.

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