New Delhi: Churchill Brothers put up a
spirited fight before crashing out of the AFC Cup after losing
1-2 to Kuwaiti powerhouse Al Qadsia in the single-leg
pre-quarterfinal match in Kuwait City.
The Goan side, playing in their first AFC Cup after
winning the 2008-09 I-League title, played their heart out but
were not good enough against a more fancied Al Qadsia at
Mohamed Al Hamed Stadium last night.
For Al Qadsia, Al Enezi struck twice in the 34th and 43rd
minutes while Churchill pulled one back through skipper Odafa
Onyeka Okolie in the 61st minute.
Al Qadsia had the upper hand in the early stages of the
game and created their first chance in the 12th minute when
Dhary Saeed sent a cross from the left that was headed
goalwards by Al Enezi but Churchill Brothers goalkeeper
Arindam Bhattacharya pushed the ball away for a corner.
Bhattacharya was again in the thick of action one minute
later when he saved a powerful shot from home team striker
Bader Al Mutawa.
The newly-crowned Kuwaiti Premier League champions had
another chance in the 19th minute and this time Ahmad Ajab
shot wide after having only the goalkeeper to beat.
Bhattacharja saved his side again in the 26th minute when he
blocked a rasping drive from Al Qadsia striker Al Mutawa.
The Churchill goalkeeper was finally beaten after 33
minutes when Al Mutawa broke down the left flank before
sending a cross into the penalty box where Al Enezi was
waiting to head the ball into the back of the net.
Al Qadsia doubled the lead two minutes before the
breather when Al Enezi headed in an Al Mutawa free-kick.
The visitors thought that they have pulled a goal back in
the last minute of the first half when Odafe headed the ball
into the back of the Al Qadsia net from close range but it was
ruled out for off-side.
Churchill Brothers started the second half well and they
should have scored five minutes after the break when Ogba Kalu
received a pass on the edge of the area but his shot flew just
wide of the upright.
A few minutes later, Kalu`s first-time shot from outside
the area was denied by Al Qadsia goalkeeper Nawaf Al Khaldi.
However, Churchill pressure finally paid off a minute
after the hour mark when skipper Odafe controlled the ball
with his chest inside the area before firing a powerful
right-footer beyond Al Khaldi.
Chances dried up after that and it was Al Qadsia who came
closest to scoring again before the final whistle when
substitute Firas Al Khatib saw his effort saved by
Bhattacharja shortly before full time.
Churchill Brothers coach Carlos Pereira felt satisfied
his side have given a good account of themselves throughout
The defeat was only the second in the tournament for the
Indians and Pereira was happy that his players had played to
the best of their ability against Al Qadsia.
"I`m satisfied with the performance as we played a good
game. We had some clear chances and threatened Al Qadsia`s
goal on several occasions but our strikers failed to score.”
"We should have even been awarded a penalty in the game
which could have sent the match to extra time. We managed to
force our style on Al Qadsia and showed them our
capabilities," said the Brazilian.
"Al Qadsia`s goals came from defensive mistakes as our
defenders didn`t mark them well. Our goalkeeper was at his
best as well and he blocked a number of chances for Al Qadsia.
We went into the competition without putting the title as our
target and I believe that we managed to show good performances
and go out with dignity," Pereira said.