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Dempo, Churchill storm into quarters

Last updated on: September 07, 2007 22:23 IST

It was an African safari at the Federation Cup as footballers from the continent scored seven of the eight goals in the two matches, which saw Dempo Sports Club and Churchill Brothers go through to the quarter-finals in Ludhiana on Friday.

Chidi Edeh made his return to Ludhiana memorable with a hat-trick as Dempo beat Kolkata's Chirag United 3-0. He found the net in the 39th, 80th and 84th minutes.

Churchill, meanwhile, recovered from an early setback to demolish state rivals Salgaocar Sports Club 4-1.

Cameroon's Stephen N Mbanyam scored in the 34th and 87th minutes while Nigerian Odafe Onyeka Okolie scored the goal of the tournament after an amazing solo run in the 49th. Robert Lalthlamvana was the only Indian scorer of the day in the 56th minute.

Nigeria's Baba Tunde Badmus gave Salgaocar an early lead in the 15th minute. It set up another intriguing Goan derby on September 10 when Dempo and Churchill would take on each other to decide who makes it to the semi-finals.

Salgaocar took the lead when Nicholas Rodrigues's determined run on the left flank was thwarted by two defenders. But while being tackled, he passed the ball to an unmarked Baba Tunde who smashed home from the edge of the area past Churchill keeper Vinay Kumar.

The deficit prompted Churchill's own African contingent to start rumbling. Stephen flicked on for Odafe who found custodian Milagrio Medeira with his shot.

Okolie then passed to D Raju who hit over. But the goal that had threatened to come finally materialised when Stephen rose to head home a centre from Okolie.

Churchill then proceeded to boss the encounter and two quick goals soon after the restart decided the final spot in the last eight.

Okolie then stamped his class when he took a ball from almost the half-line and dribbled past three defenders using his strength before shooting past Medeira.

Robert Lalthlamvana then got the insurance goal when he took advantage of neat inter-passing between Odafe and Stephen to miss his marker and rifle home.

Salgaocar were still gamely trying to get forward but their agony was not over.

Three minutes from time, Okolie got a loose ball at the half-line and proceeded on a powerful run on goal. On reaching the left back line and finding himself challenged by defenders, he chipped the ball across goal for the onrushing Stephen to turn it in off his knee.

The match showed that Salgaocar, who have come back into the National Football League's top division after a one-year gap, have work to do to match the other elite teams.

Churchill's Moroccan coach Karim Bencherifa said, "This victory is much sweeter as we had lost to Salgaocar in the Goan league this season."

His counterpart Savio Medeira blamed the loss on his midfield.

"The main problem was our midfield. I thought it was the strength of our team but it failed miserably today," he said.

Earlier, Chidi, who played for JCT last season and is still a favourite with the crowds in Ludhiana, scored a splendid hat-trick underlining his eye for goal as the Goan outfit stamped their class

However, the scoreline was a bit harsh on Chirag, who were in the game till the final 10 minutes and created some fine moves without quite possessing the cutting edge in attack. Dulal Biswas was their best player on the park.

The National Football League champions took the lead with a move involving two of their foreign stars.

A through pass from Brazilian Roberto Silva caught the Chirag United defence off guard and sent Chidi marching on goal. Sensing the danger, custodian Somnath Khara left his line but Chidi kept his composure and found the net.

Apart from that setback, there was little to suggest in the first half that Chirag were overmatched. They did not sit back and frequently gave Dempo as good as they got.

Khara also came out better than his opposite number Abhijit Mondal.

Players such as Clifford Miranda, Samir Naik, Climax Lawrence and Nigerian Ranti Martins featured in the Dempo line-up but the one to catch the eye was defender Mahesh Gawli, whose reading of the game, no frills approach and smooth tackling was a joy to watch.

Dempo raised the tempo in the second half and made frequent forays into rival territory and would have won by a bigger margin had it not been for Khara.

In the 69th minute, Silva stole the ball in his own half and made a good run before passing to Chidi at the right edge of the box. The Nigerian took a bullet shot which brought out a great save from the custodian.

Three minutes later, Chidi intercepted a back pass and made a square pass across the face of goal but Jerry Zirsanga missed the target from close range with the goalkeeper down.

A long-ranger from Valeriano Rebello then rattled the crossbar.

With time running out, Chirag committed more men forward and were caught on the break twice.

With 10 minutes to go, Chidi latched on to a long clearance and used his pace to  beat defenders before finding the bottom corner.

He completed his hat-trick in almost identical circumstances.

A long clearance from Mondal had Chidi running past two defenders and rounding past Khara to find the net.

Despite the big margin, Dempo coach Armando Colaco was not happy with the team's performance.

"I'm not satisfied. This was not Dempo's style of playing," he said.

Mumbai outfit Mahindra United and Sporting Clube de Goa clash in the first quarter-final on Saturday.

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