|Central Railway mesmerise
November 28, 1998
The Indian Express
MUMBAI, Nov 27: Central Railway (Mumbai) shunted fancied FC Kochin out
of the 98th Bristol Rovers Cup football tournament in today's quarter-final
action at the Cooperage.
The Unofficial FC Kochi Page
Central Railway, fast becoming a revelation in the tourney, continued
their long-distance journey originating from the Mini Rovers. The railway
side scored a 2-1 win over their `professional' rivals in Group B to give
themselves a good opportunity to grab the group's lone semi-final qualifying
But, up 2-0 with minutes to go, coach Irenio Vaz and his team must
surely rue conceding a goal that makes the task of the other contenders
in the group, Iranian Cultural and Sports Club, a trifle easier.
The railwaymen drew goalless againstthe Iranians on Wednesday and today's
result dooms Kochin to elimination. Victory for the Kerala side against
the Iranians on Sunday would only help Central Railway's cause, not their
own -- such being a tricky three-team group format.
Central, missing their schemer Arif Ansari to suspension, absorbed
a lot of pressure in the first half before scoring against the run of play.
Midfielder Hameed Ansari found the net from a flag-kick taken by Arshad
Ansari with just a minute to go for half-time. A cruel blow, just before
the interval and it compounded FC Kochin's misery after wing-back Prabhjot
Singh, the veteran striker Pappachan and mid-fielder Noel Wilson failed
with good opportunities.
Kochin, buoyed by three Africans in their ranks -- strikers Abu Jomo
and Abu Sidik besides Ghanian junior World Cup 'keeper Ali Abubakar, looked
likely to equalise as they sustained the pace of the first session.
But the killer blow in the 62nd minute seemed to lower the resolve
of a young side, largely influenced bythe talents and energies of former
Tata Football Academy recruits.
Central mid-fielder Shanta Kumar Panickar's free-kick on the right
found Arshad Ansari heading in to make it 2-0. Shanta Kumar was then denied
getting on to the scoresheet by Abubakar who tipped a sizzling shot over
the bar after the mid-fielder sped in on the right flank.Kochin, substituted
their Ghanian 'keeper, temperamental by nature and seemingly upset by his
defence's ineptness. In came TFA lad Naseem Akhtar with far less to do
as Central contrived to slow down pace and control play.Perhaps that worked
a bit against the Mumbai side and a momentary flag in concentration saw
their defence punished by Kochin substitute Mohammad Shafeeq.The tiring
Pappachan got a centre through a hesitant defence and Shafeeq headed home
past Raghuveer Khanolkar with a minute of regulation time remaining.