Herbert fillip takes Mahindras into semisOctober 24, 1997
More importantly, the draw kept KBL FC Kochin in contention for higher honours after Mahindra and Mahindra, Mumbai became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals from the pool after they overcame PSEB by a solitary goal margin.
JCT, at the end of their league assignment, have four points out of the three matches played. FC Kochin, after two draws, have two points and they need to beat PSEB tomorrow to pip JCT for the second semi-final seat.Vijayan today took the field, despite carrying an injury that could aggravate without proper rest, as it was a crucial outing for his side. He was joined by goalkeeper Sumit Mukherjee, who also had skipped the last match due to an injury.
However, another dependable player Mohammed Shafeeq could not take the field because of the fresh injury that he sustained in the club's last match.
Yet, JCT let nothing disturb their rhythm and started on the offensive.
Goals kept evading them till the 23rd minute when Bhupinder Singh deflected shot put JCT up. In a hurry to clear the ball, FC Kochin's Nigerian defenders Bernard Operanzie and Saeed Akinsanya crowded the goal. Bernard tried to clear it away but instead hit the ball into the legs of a rushing Bhupinder and the ball deflected in.
By now, Vijayan was growing restless and, on spotting an opening, tried to squeeze past the JCT defenders only to be trapped in a crowd. A desperate tackle by JCT stopper Moosa had Vijayan on the ground and the referee Inayathulla Khan promptly ordered a free-kick from the top of the box. The FC Kochin bench immediately perked up, no doubt enthused by memories of Vijayan's magical strike during the Durand Cup semi-final.
And amazingly, Vijayan didn't let them down a second time. His powerful right-footer sailed past the JCT wall and went into the net after glancing off defender Sukhdev Singh's head. The FC Kochin fans in the stadium erupted in joy; their super hero had saved them from humiliation.
Earlier, Mahindras used all their energy to squeeze out a 1-0 win over
PSEB to finish pool leaders. Despite being without the services of their
star goalkeeper Gumpe Rime and striker Khalid Jameel, Mahindras were always
a dominant side between the two. The all-important goal came in 45th minute
goal through Herbert Philip after he got a cross from Satish Minz on the