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Hats off to Odafe’s trick as Churchill win

sports Updated: Sep 23, 2009 01:50 IST
Abhishek Hore
Abhishek Hore
Hindustan Times
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The more you see him, the more you wonder.

Wonder how he continues to score so consistently, wonder if his goal-scoring spree would ever end and perhaps, most pertinently, wonder if Okolie Onyeka Odafa is the best striker ever to have played football in India.

If Churchill Brothers are on a roll these days, credit the Nigerian for that. On Tuesday, he single-handedly destroyed Mohun Bagan to help his side clinch the 122nd Durand Cup, their second triumph in the world's third oldest tournament after 2007, and second of the season after the 114th IFA Shield.

As long as Odafa is in the team, nothing really matters, not even errors on the part of referees it seems - the I-League champions should have been awarded a penalty after an advancing Sangram Mukherjee brought down Ogba Kalu inside the box.

Billed as the match between India's best sides, Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers started cautiously. On an evening when the strikers were supposed to call the shots, Jose Barreto and Edeh Chidi looked subdued before Odafa decided to cut loose. There were quite a few exchanges but defenders from both sides were equal to task, almost throughout the regulation time.

Just when it seemed like the match would go into the tie-breaker, Chidi headed a free-kick swung deep to put Mohun Bagan ahead.

Odafa equalised in the 100th minute after dribbling past two defenders, helped his side take the lead five minutes later before putting to rest any doubts of a Mohun Bagan comeback by slotting home his third goal of the match and fifth of the tournament.

Karim Bencherifa's decision to replace James Singh with Subhojit Majumdar turned out to be masterstroke as it was from his free-kick Chidi headed in. Odafa was in his elements. The Nigerian's second goal — he headed in after Charan Rai's shot rebounded off the upright.

Mohun Bagan had the better of the exchanges in the first half with Churchill Brothers dominating the moments after the breather. That the men upfront found it difficult to find the target in the regulation time were largely due to efforts of the defenders.