African firepower finally came to the fore in the Peerless Federation Cup with the combination of Odafe Okolie and George Ekeh firing Churchill Brothers into the quarter-finals and putting Air-India on an early flight home.
Okolie and Ekeh’s energy and enterprise was somewhat exaggerated by Air-India’s defensive duo of Abiodom Martins and Femi Joseph Adeola, also from Africa. There was as much organisation in Air-India’s defence as there usually is in the Kolkata traffic, so to blame only the duo would be unfair.
But the first few minutes nonetheless made for an interesting study in contrasts between a pair struggling to hit the right notes and, therefore, making the other look like they were on song.
Goals in the sixth and seventh minutes killed the penultimate pre-quarter final as a contest. Four minutes before the breather, the Mumbai team was dead and buried after Ekeh slid in and drove home Okolie’s measured pass from the right with his left foot.
Ekeh’s early flick from the middle sent Okolie speeding and Adeola struggling to play catch-up. Okolie beat his continental cousin for space and even though it forced him into an acute angle, managed a left-footer which gave Air-India goalkeeper Ehthesham Ahmed no chance.
Next minute, Ekeh struck, going solo after Robert Lalthalamvana fed him on the left. This time, Martins went belly-up after trying an early tackle and the rest of the defenders were left gripping air once the stocky Nigerian bustled into the area. He did even better with the next goal, again while Martins was left chasing a crooked shadow.
In another match, Mohun Bagan beat Viva Kerala 4-1 with Bhaichung Bhutia scoring twice.
Churchill Brothers 3 Air-India 0.
Mohun Bagan 4 Viva Kerala 1.