New Delhi,(IANS) Churchill Brothers of Goa stormed into the final of the Durand Cup football tournament, beating Mumbai’s Air India 3-2 in the first semi-final here Monday.
Goals from Nigerians Mboyo Iyomi and Odafe Okolic and Indian international Gourmangi Singh helped the Goan outfit book the ticket for their maiden final appearance at the Ambedkar Stadium. Dhanachandra Singh and Santosh Koli struck for the airlines team to reduce the margin at the 120th Osian’s Durand Cup tournament, the third oldest tournament of the world.
It was a seesaw ride for both teams as four goals were scored in the first half and they were locked 2-2 till the breather.
Air India looked in good form in the first half and took the lead in the seventh minute through a fine header from Dhanachandra. The midfielder headed into the net from an accurate free-kick off Santosh Koli, taking goalkeeper Vinay Singh by surprise.
It was a match of swinging fortunes for both teams as Churchill defender Gourmangi came from nowhere to strike parity in the 17th minute. The defender, who was lurking in the Air India citadel, pounced on a free kick from Nigerian Okolic.
But Gourmangi’s shot was blocked by the goalkeeper and then again rebounded off his own body to get into the net.
The deadlock was broken 10 minutes later by a well-executed header from close range by Koli, who was set-up by Nigerian Bashiru Abbas.
Bashiru, who was standing at the far post, headed into the box from a free-kick. An unmarked Koli then headed the ball into the net, to give the Mumbai outfit the lead.
Eight minutes later, Mboyo brought back the Goan team into the game as he guided the ball into the net off a rebound from Air India goalie Raju Ekka. Okolic made a solo run into the Air India defence and his right-footer from the back-line was blocked by Raju and off the rebound Mboyo guided it in to help Churchill draw level.
Okolic’s brilliance in the 81st minute helped the Goan outfit book their maiden final. The Nigerian dribbled past an advancing goalie and then dodged a covering defender for an open net and pushed in the winner.
Air India: Raju Ekka (goalkeeper), Napolean Singh, Nirmal Chettri, Dhanchandra Singh, Uttam Singh, Santosh Koli, Sanju Pradhan, Hrinsolal Thomte, Paresh Shivalkar, Narendra Meetei, Bashiru Abbas
Churchill Brothers: Vinay Singh (goalkeeper), Robert Lalthlamuan, Govin, Naoba Singh, Raju D, Eanglias D Silva, Chandam Singh, Gormangi Singh, Reisangmi Vashum, Odafe Okolic, Mboyo Iyomi
Referee: P. Bhaskar