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Kalu strike saves holders’ blushes

sports Updated: Aug 31, 2008 23:46 IST
Abhishek Hore

They didn't quite play like the defending champions, but Churchill Brothers still proved too good for Army XI. The Goan outfit struggled to a 1-0 victory and booked a semifinal berth in the 121st Osian's Durand Cup at the Ambedkar Stadium on Sunday.

Had it not been for Ogba Kalu Nnanna's 41st minute strike off a Nicholas Rodrigues cross, the outcome of the match might have been different. A fumble by Army XI goalkeeper Robikanta Singh too helped Churchill's cause — the veteran custodian let the ball slip under his arms after Kalu struck one during their Group A quarterfinal league match.

Apart from that Churchill did not had much to offer and the team's performance was a far cry from their drubbing of Tata Football Academy (TFA) in their opening match.

Okolie Onyeka Odafa, who doesn't mind a little bit of space, was marked well by the Army boys.

Even though Odafa didn't get many opportunities, when he got one in the 53rd minute he unleashed a right-footer but Robikanta made amends by parrying the ball away to safety.

Mahindra held

While the defending champions scraped through, last edition's finalists, Mahindra United, were held 1-1 by I-League debutants Mumbai F.C.

Configured in a 3-4-3 formation, a shift from their usual 4-4-2 pattern, Mahindra held the upper hand through the first 45 minutes and took the lead through Mohammad Rafi's 4th minute strike.

This after Douhous Pierre, who created a number of openings in either side of the break, released the ball for Edeh Chidi but it was Rafi, who, after receiving the ball tapped it past Mumbai FC goalkeeper Kalyan Choubey who otherwise has a brilliant match under the bar.

Felix Abogye however drew parity after he converted a penalty after D Ravanan tackled K Aseem from behind just before the lemon-break.

Choubey made a number of crucial saves, blocking Sushil Kumar's diving header after thwarting off Pierre's long-rangers in the 66th and 79th minutes. Mahindra also had a goal disallowed, as Sushil's shot in the 75th minute was called offside.