Odafa hat-trick helps Bagan beat Arrows 3-1
Kolkata: Odafa Onyeka Okolie spelled his magic on his I-League debut with a hat-trick for Mohun Bagan as he helped his team come from behind to thrash Pailan Indian Arrows 3-1 at the flood-lit Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.
Lzlrozama Fenai (8`) put the Indian Arrows ahead with an outstanding long ball from the right as the Maidan giants found themselves in backfoot early in the game.
The former Churchill Brothers forward, who was the biggest signing this season, lived up to his reputation as he fired in three goals in 66th, 72nd and 91st minute to earn full points for Mohun Bagan in their opening round.
It was indeed a memorable day for the Nigerian striker as he wore the captain`s armband in absence of regular skipper Jose Ramirez Barreto in the starting XI and giving the team a winning start.
The leading scorer of the I-League Odafa had a quiet first-half as the All India Football Federation`s developmental side put Mohun Bagan under tremendous pressure in the first 45 minutes.
Backed by a sizeable supporters, the Indian Arrows who shifted base to Kolkata this season, impressed with their defence as goalkeper Naveen Kumar was at his resolute best under the bar.
The best moment for the upcoming side came in the 12th minute when Fenai`s long ball from left side touch line hit the post before entering the goal.
Mohun Bagan custodian Sangram Mukherjee failed to judge the flight as Indian Arrows scored a direct goal from left taking a superb lead.
Indian Arrows held on to the lead in the first half with a resolute defence and fine goalkeeping by Naveen Kumar, while Mohun Bagan lacked creativity in the midfield, banking solely on Odafa.
Mohun Bagan`s another star recruit, Sunil Chhetri, did not make his presence felt, while Manish Mathani had a fine chance in the first-half when his shot beat the goalkeeper but missed the target.
Odafa came close to scoring in the 37th minute but Indian Arrows goalkeeper Naveen Kumar was thwarted the attempt.
It was Hudson Lima Silva who was instrumental in getting the equaliser as the Brzilian supplied the ball with a delicate cross from the left.
It did the trick for Odafa to notch up his first goal in the fifth edition of the I-League in green and maroon jersey.
The cross was just accurate below waist high as Odafa gave the decisive touch to bring relief and joy for the boisterous Mohun Bagan supporters.
In a space of six minutes, Odafa was at it again, bringing up his brace as he utilised an Ashim Biswas cross to the far post before scoring through a half volley in his trademark fashion.
The Arrows nearly scored the equaliser in the 88th minute but CS Sabeeth`s header was an inch wide.
But there was no looking back for Mohun Bagan and Odafa who scored his hat-trick in style as he deceived three Indian Arrows defenders before getting past goalkeeper Naveen Kumar in a solitary attempt.