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Winning starts for Churchill, Mahindra

Source: PTI
December 05, 2008 21:22 IST

The Nigerian duo of Odafe Onyeka Okolie and Chidi Edeh hogged the limelight for Churchill Brothers and Mahindra United respectively as both teams got off to winning starts in the Federation Cup football tournament at Vidyasagar Krirangan in Barasat on Friday.

In the floodlit encounter, Odafe inspired a 10-man Churchill to a 2-1 win over Mohammedan Sporting.

Earlier in the day, Mahindra United blanked a hapless Hindustan Aeronautics Limited 3-0, which also saw brilliance from Edeh.

After losing their goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya, who was sent off the ground for foul on goal-bound Vimal Pariyar in the third minute, Odafe scored twice, including a brilliant goal in the dying minutes of the match.

With Mohammedan Sporting losing their foreign duo of Mike Okoro and Adebayo Adewusi because of Thursday's unsavoury incident, when the former assaulted a sports journalist, the Kolkata side was morally down from the start.

Odafe gave the visitors the lead, converting a penalty in the 30th minute. From thereon, it was Churchill all the way as the talismanic Nigerian simply dictated terms over Mohammedan Sporting, who paled in comparison.

After the changeover, Mohammedan Sporting showed some urgency to fight back. In the 73rd minute, Jothi Kumar utilised a Satyajit Bose cross to the fullest to give the team a fresh lease of life, with coach Shabbir Ali heaving a sigh of relief.

But their joy was short-lived as Odafe unleashed a magnificent grounder in the 87th minute, leaving Mohammedan Sporting keeper Tharangachan Tungshang clueless.

In the first match of the day, Edeh rose to the occasion, scoring a brace to guide Mahindra United to a comprehensive victory.

The Nigerian's prolonged goal-drought certainly affected his team's prospects in the I-League, where they are languishing in ninth position. But his conversions on the day should definitely bring some relief for coach Derrick Pereira.

After a slow start, with the HAL backline putting up a stiff resistance, Chidi took the initiative, heading home an excellent corner from Steven Dias five minutes into the second half.

Edeh's second goal was simply a gift from the Bangalore side. Sushanth Mathew, on the overlap, churned out an accurate floater towards Edeh, who was allowed all the space to take another decisive header in the 59th minute.

Edeh made the moment for substitute Bhola Prasad, who replaced Steven Dias, who completed the rout six minutes before the final whistle.

The Bangalore-based outfit, on the other hand, didn't look as hapless as SBT, who went down to Dempo by a similar margin on Thursday, but they faltered to fight back as their veteran R C Prakash wasted a penalty in the 63rd minute.

Dada Nabeel also squandered a sitter from 10 yards, shooting straight at Mahindra custodian Subhashish Roy Chowdhury.

Mahindra United and Churchill Brothers, with the wins, are now tied at the top in Group B with three points each.

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