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Rediff.com  » Sports » Okolie leads Churchill to win over Mahindra

Okolie leads Churchill to win over Mahindra

January 24, 2009 20:53 IST

If it is Churchill Brothers it must be Odafa Onyeka Okolie.

Well, it was not so for a major portion of the first half of the 12th round I-League clash against Mahindra United at the Cooperage on Saturday.

The Nigerian just strolled aimlessly around the park, after being buffeted and bulldozed around by the Mahindra defenders who were determined to keep him at bay.

But you can never keep a good man down for too long. All of a sudden Okolie woke up in the 38th minute to unleash a killer through pass from the midfield for his colleague Felix Chimaokwu to round rival goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Choudhury and open the account for the visitors.

Okolie then used his brawn and bustling ways to complete the demolition job, scoring a brace in the 63rd and 83rd minutes before Dohou Pierre pulled one back for the losers in the 89th minute as Mahindras succumbed to a comprehensive 1-3 defeat.

The jeepmen had lost their first leg encounter 1-2 and Saturday's defeat was their sixth overall in the tournament. 

With this victory, the Zoran Djordjevic-coached team, who have come perilously close to winning the I-League on a few occasions earlier, kept themselves in the title hunt by taking their tally to 23 points.

They are still in third position, behind leaders Sporting Clube de Goa (25) and Mohun Bagan (24) in that order.

Underperforming Mahindras have slid down to tenth position with 12 points, just above Mohammedan Sporting (9) and Vasco (5) who continue to hover in the relegation zone.

Okolie, who is destined to finish top scorer for the third time running, took his tally in the current tournament to 13. Today's goals were all about his opportunism, albeit aided by terrible defending from his experienced rivals.

Chasing a long ball into the rival box, he shook off stiff tackles from Lamine Tamba and K N Ajayan before getting the ball into the net for his opening goal.

Twenty minutes later, after being released on the left flank near the centre line, he sprinted the entire half of the field with Lamba in tow before squeezing the ball past Chowdhury from the narrowest of angles.

There is a possibility that the ball could have crossed the goalline before it was hustled into the net.

Mahindras shocking defending was compounded by their shoddy finishing as they had created ample openings in the first half.

But lanky Arindam Bhatacharya under the Churchill bar was in fine fettle. He first kept out a blinder from Mohammed Rafi in the 9th minute and later made crucial saves in 1-2-1 situations against the same forward and Chidi Edeh.

He came to his side's rescue on a few more occasions before he finally let one in when it was all over bar the shouting.

But for Okolie's heroics, Arindam could have well walked away with the man of the match award though the yellow he collected for time wasting was the only blot aghainst his name.

Mario Rodrigues