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After just three minutes ND Opara finished calmly to give 10 men Churchill Brothers a 1-0 victory over Dempo sports club in the Kingfisher Goa pro league at Duler stadium, here on Sunday.
Dempo came into the match with a win under their belt, while Churchill were in badly need of a win after losing their opening encounter. ND Opara slotted in to give them a hard fought three points after being played in by Jerry Zirsanga in the third minute.
“We conceded early through a silly mistake, which put us on the back foot for the remaining of the game, it is a very disappointing,” remarked Dempo coach Mauricio Afonso.
“The whole team worked hard to grind out the win, as our opponents never gave up and we did not expect them to,” stated Churchill coach Mariano Dias.
Churchill’s central midfielder Jerry Zirsanga was sent off in the closing stages after receiving his second yellow card. His first came in the 50th for a reckless tackle on Dempo’s Ranty Martins, while his second was for unnecessarily wasting time.
Churchill played a strict 4-4-2. After scoring early they then had the job of keeping out Dempo for 87 minutes. Felix D’souza played brilliantly for Churchill in the goal and was assisted by a very strong defence especially the extremely tall Anton Kovic who blocked anything that moved. Churchill left out Beto and Henri Anchouet which meant they were not so threatening in front of goal.
Dempo were shocked by the early goal and didn’t really recover after that. They had many of their India internationals on show such as Climax Lawrence, Mahesh Gawli, and Debrata Roy but they seemed of the pace, lacking sharpness and will take some time to get back to their best after a tiring last season.
A mix up within the Dempo defence allowed Jerry to slip the ball through for ND Opara after just three minutes and he only needed one invitation in front of goal to put Churchill ahead.
Ranty Martins and koko Sakibo tried their best to pressurize the Churchill defence but were left frustrated after narrowly missing the target from close.
The hardworking Anthony Pereira swapped from the right to the left wing with Brian Mascarenhas, to try and make some headway, but resorted back to his original position just before the break after having little success.
Fifteen minutes into the second session Anthony crossed for koko but his header was saved. Moments later Churchill substitute Savio Carneiro made a tricky run into the Dempo box, but could not keep his composure and was stopped in his tracks.
Ten minutes from the end Dempo had their best chance of the game, when Anthony crossed for Clifton Gonsalves who did not make the best of connections, but the ball fell to Substitute Nicolau Borges who headed the ball against the bar. From the rebound Felix made a spectacular double save to deny Ranti Martins and then Nicolau, which just about summed up Dempo’s afternoon.
First published in Herald on 14th september 2011.