CUTTACK: Chennai City FC lodged their first win of the ongoing 38th edition of the Hero Federation Cup after the Chennai outfit defeated Churchill Brothers 3-1 at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, Odisha today (May 11, 2017).
Despite the win, Chennai City FC bow out of the Hero Federation Cup along with Churchill Brothers, while both Aizawl FC and Kingfisher East Bengal qualify for the semi-finals of the Tournament.
Strikes by Dhanpal Ganes (18’), Edwin Sydney (61’) and Brazilian Charles de Souza (79’) led Chennai City FC to three points, leapfrogging Churchill Brothers to finish the Hero Federation Cup in third place in Group A with three points, after Brandon Fernandes scored from the spot in the 81st minute. Meanwhile, Churchill Brothers find themselves at the bottom of Group A with one point and no wins in three matches.
Both teams played the first half of the game with caution and while Churchill Brothers dominated possession, it was Chennai City FC that attacked the break and scored to lead 1-0 at half-time.
In the 18th minute, Dhanpal Ganesh bombarded into the penalty box after stealing possession and his shot from a tight angle flew past Naveen Kumar into the back of the net to hand Chennai the lead. Brandon Fernandes in the 31st minute rattled the woodwork from a free-kick 25 yards out for Churchill Brothers.
There was even less action in the second half as both Teams cancelled each other out on the midfield tactically. Bright moments came for Chennai City FC in the form of Dhanpal Ganesh who took on more of an attacking role, linking play between the midfield and the final third.
In the 59th minute, Brandon Fernandes took it upon him to score the equaliser but his shot could only crash against the side-netting after he wriggled into the box from the left flank.
Two minutes later Chennai City FC doubled their lead after Edwin Sydney's shot from inside the box crept into the back of the net leaving Naveen Kumar wrong-footed. Charles de Souza tripled Chennai City’s lead in the 79th minute after his powerful shot crashed into the net leaving the Churchill custodian stunned.
Churchill Brothers were awarded a penalty in the 81st minute and Brandon Fernandes stepped up to finish the spot kick with ease and reduce Churchill’s deficit. However, it was too late for a comeback and the full-time scoreline read 3-1 in favour of Chennai City FC.
Kingfisher East Bengal Play Out A Goalless Stalemate Against Aizawl FC
Kingfisher East Bengal became the second team to qualify from Group A and progress to the semi-finals after the Kolkata outfit played a 0-0 draw against Hero I-League Champions Aizawl FC in the Hero Federation Cup at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, Odisha today (May 11, 2017).
With this draw, Kingfisher East Bengal finish runners-up with five points out of three matches and set up the potential of a Kolkata derby in the semi-finals, given Mohun Bagan finish table toppers in Group B. Meanwhile, Aizawl FC finish top of Group A with seven points out of three matches.
Khalid Jamil made as many as eleven changes to the lineup that registered a 1-2 win against Churchill Brothers and complacency at the back was clearly visible of a young Aizawl FC side in the opening minutes.
Willis Plaza upfront and Wedson Anselme on the wings cause trouble at the back and in the 10th minute, Plaza came close to giving Kingfisher East Bengal the lead after his header flew inches past of the goal. Five minutes later, Plaza combined with Wedson, only for the former to earn a corner kick after the Aizawl custodian made a fine save from close range.
Aizawl FC recouped in the match but could only test Subhashish from distance, failing to foster any clear goal scoring chance. Plaza had a chance in the 37th minute when he was found in the box by a Narayan Das cross, but the Aizawl FC defence prevented him from releasing the shot. The half-time scoreline read 0-0.
In the 48th minute, Rafique wriggled into the box but his final delivery lacked the venom for Wedson to make a clean contact on and the Aizawl FC defence line mopped up the attempt.
Kingfisher East Bengal attacked in hordes with ammunition provided from the midfield by Rafique and Cavin Lobo. In the 54th minute, Lobo released an enticing cross but Plaza failed to connect to it.
Aizawl FC played with a deep line and their midfield dropped back to add numbers as Khalid Jamil’s men focused on soaking the pressure out. For Kingfisher East Bengal, chances missed up front took a toll and the Red and Golds failed to find the net even after having the majority of possession in the final third. The full-time scoreline read 0-0 as both Team shared the spoils of battle.
By Joseph Solomon,
AIFF Media Team