Dempo lift Durand Cup

A splendid strike by Nigerian Ranti Martins was enough to secure the maiden Durand Cup football triumph for Dempo Sports Club, Goa on Monday.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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New Delhi:

A splendid strike by Nigerian Ranti Martins was enough to secure the maiden Durand Cup football triumph for Dempo Sports Club, Goa on Monday. The 74th minute solitary goal of the match put paid to the aspirations of JCT, Phagwara, to land the coveted trophy for the first time in 10 years. Dempo became only the second Goan side to lift the title after Salgaocar did so twice (in 1999 and 2003). The match was worthy of a title decider as neither team sat back in the fast-paced encounter, with goalmouth opportunities at both ends being the order of the day. Thrilling start The final got off to a rousing start with the team from Punjab coming close in only the second minute. A great pass at the edge of the area from Nigerian Chidi Edeh found Parveen Kumar in space with only goalkeeper Satish Kumar to beat, but the striker's control betrayed him at the crucial moment. At the other end, Brazilian Beto's strong shot from outside the area was parried over the bar by JCT custodian Kalyan Chaubey. The Goan outfit had three shots on goal one after another from around the six-yard box with saves made on the line itself. Dempo had a close shave themselves, when in an attempt to clear the ball ahead of the dangerous Chidi, Valeriano Rebelo miscued the ball towards his own goal, and it was only the agility of Satish Kumar that saved the day for the team. Chaubey came to the rescue of JCT at the half-hour mark when he blocked a shot by the impressive Anthony Pereira from point blank range. JCT, backed by a large section of the crowd at the Ambedkar Stadium, which made it almost a home match for them, squandered another opportunity before the break. In the second half, Sukhjinder Singh, who had come on in place of Nigerian Sunday Ambrose in the first session itself, let go a powerful drive from outside the area, which Satish did well to save. For Dempo, midfielders Jerry Zirsanga and Pereira were combining well, but the latter had to come off due to injury mid-way into the second period. Martins on attack Martins signaled his intentions a few minutes later when his strong attempt was sent past the post by Chaubey. However, the deadlock was soon to be broken. Beto dispossessed Parveen inside his own area and gave a square pass to Martins, who controlled the ball, turned around, and beat the custodian at the near post with a powerful right-footer. It was a splendid strike alright, but Chaubey's positioning could also be faulted as he was not covering the first post. After getting the goal, Dempo were content to get a bit defensive and going forward only on the counter-attack. JCT brought on Jaswinder Singh to shore up the wing play, but they paid the price for not being able to get in telling crosses into the danger area. Afonso elated Dempo's assistant coach Mauricio Afonso was understandably elated with the result. "This is a big day for Dempo. Let alone the final, we had never reached the semi-final of this prestigious tournament," Afonso said. But he was quick to give credit to the opposition for a worthy title fight. "It was a very tough match. JCT also played well," he said. Afonso, who coached Goa at the recent Santosh Trophy, admitted that this success was a balm for the dismal failure in the national championship. "This makes up for the disappointment in the Santosh Trophy," he said. Goa had entered the tournament as the defending champions and title favourites, but had failed to make it to the last four. JCT coach Sukhwinder Singh was gracious in defeat. "It was a good match and Dempo were deserving winners. Our team had to play seven matches in 11 days, but they tried hard," the former national coach said. He, however, blamed poor finishing as one of the reasons for the defeat. "Both teams had chances to score. We could have found the net on several occasions, including at the very start. If you miss such chances, it is very difficult to win big matches such as these," Sukhwinder said. The winners of the third oldest football tournament in the world got richer by Rs 10 lakh, while the runners-up had to be content with Rs four lakh. (PTI)