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Rediff.com  » Sports » Salgaocar emerge I-League champs

Salgaocar emerge I-League champs

May 30, 2011 20:25 IST

Salgaocar are the new I-League champions.

Goa's love affair with the country's premier football club competition continued as the Green Brigade made short work of JCT, wining 2-0, at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana to finish atop with 56 points from 26 matches, beyond the reach of any other club.

Salgaocar's coach Karim Bencherifa was ecstatic.

"We are officially the champions. I knew we had almost won it. But, with this victory, the championship is officially ours," he said.

Salgaocar had earlier won the third National Football League in the 1998-99 season. 

The victorious Salgaocar teamWith this, it's now four out of four for Goa in the I-League -- Dempo having won it twice, in 2007-08 and 2009-10, and Churchill Brothers, in 2008-09.

Former Salgaocar ace and Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira was quick to salute the team.

"I am happy that a Goan team where I spent 20 years of my playing career has won. My kudos to the owner, Shivanand Salgaocar, for the effort put in to build up this team to where it is today. Salgaocar has been consistent as a unit through this season and it has paid off," he said, adding, "coach Bencherifa must also be credited for the success."

At the kick-off, there were doubts. JCT intended to upset Salgaocar's applecart and crawl out of the relegation zone. A JCT victory would have infused life into Dempo's race for the title. But Salgaocar midfielder Francis Fernandes put everything to rest, scoring the first goal as early as the 13th minute.

From there on it was unrealistic to think Salgaocar could slip. And they didn't. Yusif Yakubu hit the final nail in the coffin in the 85th minute to make sure of the crown. 

Bencherifa attributed the success to excellent team work.

"I need to salute my players, I need to salute the support staff, I need to salute the management for their support. The team-spirit has been excellent.

 "There is so much healthy competition among the boys. Everyone had mutual respect for the other. And it benefited the team," he said.

JCT now stare at relegation, having logged just 24 points from 26 matches.

Dempo rout Air India 14-0: At the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Goa, Dempo routed Air India 14-0.

Ranti Martins scored seven goals, including a double-hat-trick, with goals in the 35th, 43rd, 48th, 61st and 67th, 78th and 84th minute. Roberto Mendes Silva also scored a hat-trick, finding the net in the 54th, 68th and 93rd minute, while Peter Carvalho scored a brace (41st and 59th minute).

Climax Lawrence (45th minute) and Clifton Gonsalves (90th) completed the rout.

Dempo moved to 50 points from 25 matches while Air India ended their campaign with 24.

Mumbai FC hold ONGC: In another match at the Sahu Maharaj Ground in Kohlapur, ONGC were held to a 2-2 draw by Mumbai FC.

For ONGC, ND Opara converted from the spot in the seventh minute while Badmus Babatunde scored the other goal in the 36th.

S Kuttimani and Abhishek Yadav pulled it back for Mumbai FC with goals in the 65th and 75th minute respectively.

The result helped ONGC end their campaign on 24 points from 26 matches while Mumbai FC finished with 34.