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Central Railway mesmerise FC Kochi  

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.  
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 spot. 
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. 

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