However hard one may try to label football as a ‘funny’ game, ONGC’s 3-1 victory over defending champions Dempo SC can never be labeled as ‘fluke.’ So much so, former National Coach Armando Colaco, the man at the helm of Dempo’s success admitted post match: “They played to a plan and never allowed us to play. We need to credit them for the victory.”
‘Playing to a plan,’ ONGC, the ‘deserving winners’ made a mockery of Dempo’s reputation winning 3-1 to register their first win in I-League. Shorabuddin Mollick, Jatin Bisht and Eric Brown scored one apiece for ONGC; not to forget Mollick and Japanese recruit Yusa Katsumi should have netted one more apiece.
“This is a big moment for us. Dempo are not a one-man team. It’s not for nothing that they stay the most consistent team in Indian Football in the last decade. We made a plan and the boys implemented it on the field. I’m very proud of my boys,” ONGC Coach Subrata Bhattacharya said.
The win took ONGC to five points from 6 matches while Dempo stay on 13 points from 6 matches.
Despite Dempo enjoying more possession the first ten minutes, ONGC took the lead in the 12thminute. A brilliant pass from Eric Brown found Kailash Patil in the clear. Dempo goalkeeper Subhasish Roychowdhury managed to keep off Kailash’s shot and all Shorabuddin Mollick had to do was to tap it in. He made no mistake.
Dempo tried to regroup and in the 16th minute, a Peter Carvalho header off a Clifford Miranda free-kick agonisingly missed the target by a whisker. And then, Romeo was in the thick of action in the 24thminute when he snaked down the right and side and essayed a centre but first, Sueoka’s tap was cleared from the goal line by Gurung and then off the rebound, much to the dismay of the Dempo bench, Sueoka’s shot hit the post.
In the 33rd minute, Mollick muffed the easiest chance of the day. He latched onto a miss pass and had all the time and space with Subhasish at his mercy. But he failed to slot it home as Subahsish kept him at bay.
Changing over, Dempo tried to press more. But the ONGC defence led by Man of the Match Robin Gurung was equal to the task. Unable to restore parity, frustration started to creep into Dempo’s ranks, something which ONGC were quick to capitalise.
In the 52nd minute, ONGC’s Japanese recruit Ysua Katsumi sneaked in between the two Dempo defenders Rowilson Rodrigues and Creston Antao but with only Subhashish to beat, he hurried into his shot and missed the target.
But the moment of the match was yet to arrive. Former India midfielder Jatin Bisht, the ONGC captain made it 2-0 with a rasping shot from outside the box in the 58th minute. Subhasish despite his desperate dive came nowhere near it. Mollick, on this occasion, stayed the feeder to Jatin.
Three minutes later, however, Dempo pulled one back when Peter Carvalho gently tapped in off a Clifford Miranda free-kick down the left.
But ONGC had more in store. In the injury time, Eric Brown, who stayed omnipresent and impressed all with his holding and distribution made it 3-1 with a left-footer from outside the box.
“Our midfield couldn’t function properly. But that’s football. This is just the sixth round and I’m sure my boys will bounce back in style. I stay confident of their character,” Armando concluded.