Barasat, Sept 29: Powered by a Theodore Sunday goal
in the second-half, Mohammedan Sporting came from behind to
hold Air-India 1-1 in their first round encounter of the ONGC
I-League at the Vidyasagar Krirangan here today.
In yet another dominance from the visiting team, the Air
India took the first-half honours as Mohammedan Sporting, who
had finished runners-up in the second division I-League to
make the cut, paled in comparison.
The Airmen surged ahead in the 22nd minute when Surajit
Roy netted the ball to give Mohammedan Sporting some anxious
The goal was the result of well-organised move by Michael
Tayo - Emmanuel Ovieghara with Roy turning out to be the
Tayo was quick to spot a cross off Ovieghara in the
right. Even though Tayo failed to capitalise on the pass, Roy
was just on spot to net it home with a clinical finish.
Mohammedan Sporting, visibly under pressure after the
first goal, lost an easy chance early in the first-half. It
was Sunday, who almost gave the Kolkata team the lead but his
shot was deflected by Air India goalkeeper Aloke Debnath to
give opponent coach Shabbir Ali some frustrating time.
The Air India went into the break with solitary lead.
Fresh from their impressive performance in the Calcutta
Football League (CFL) Premier Division, Mohammedan Sporting
quickly realised that it's a different battle altogether in
the national league.
Their mid-field comprising Jothi Kumar, Adebayo Adewusi,
Sovan Chakraborty and Mir Farooq Hyder let the team down as
their over dependency on their striking duo of Mike Okoro and
Theodore Sunday, the CFL top-scorer, came to fore.
Again the slippery ground condition did little to further
Mohammedan Sporting's cause with Jothi Kumar slipping on more
than one occasions.
The second-half saw a much improved performance from the
Kolkata team as their Sunday - Okoro duo seemed to have found
their rhythm right, beginning to put pressure on the visitors.
In the 59th minute, Sunday found himself well-positioned
as the Air India defence just backed off. The foreign import
does not miss the chance to bring on the equaliser for
Sunday's strike put pressure on Airmen, who slowly looked
to lose steam but their coach Bimal Ghosh was very concerned
about not conceding a further goal. Seeing Mohammedan attack
is losing sting, Ghosh replaced their scorer Surujit with
Mohammedan Sporting: Naseem Akhtar; Rajib Ghosh (Gautam
Thakur 79'), Grupreet Singh, V Prem Kumar, Bijoy Das, Jothi
Kumar, Adebayo Adewusi, Sovan Chakraborty, Mir Farooq Hyder,
Mike Okoro, Theodore Sunday.
Air India: Arup Debnath, Napoleon Singh, Chukwuma Udofia,
Uttam Singh, Ravinder Singh, Soccor Velho, Michael Tayo, Syed
Farid, Surujit Roy (Vijith Sethy 80'), Samson Singh (Subhas
Singh 54'), Emmanuel Ovieghara.
ONGC Man-of-the-Match: Adebayo Adewusi.
Yellow Cards: Subhas Singh (70') (Air India).
Referee: Francisco Fernandes (Goa).