I-League: Okoro Inspires Mohammedan Victory

Mohammedan skipper Mike Okoro’s brilliance rubbed further salt at the Salt Lake Stadium on Mahindra United as they succumbed to their fourth defeat in five games in the second edition of the I-League. This is Mohammedan’s maiden win over Mahindra United in the top division.
With this win, Mohammedan Sporting occupies the eight position with five points while Mahindra United have plunged further down to 10th.

The match started with Mohammedan Sporting initiating an act from the right with Mike Okoro’s cross being cleared by an alert Justin Stephen.

Mahindra United settled better of the two sides and created a number of chances in the early stages. Mohammedan Sporting were finding it difficult to contend with the influx of Mahindra attacks but were saved more because of the Mumbai’s teams squandering efforts in front of the net than their own defenders.

The sixth minute saw Chidi Edeh send in a cross from the right for Steven Dias but the Indian international under pressure from the Mohammedan defender hit wide.

Two minutes later, it was Douhou’s cross from the left at the far post where Steven Dias took it on the volley and missed the target. Striker Chidi Edeh was in the thick of things as he cut inside from the right and his final shot went over the bar.

Mohammedan did launch two quick counterattacks but the linesman got it wrong on both occasions as he ruled Mike Okoro offside. Steven Dias had another crack at the goal from the right but his effort went over the bar. Debabrata, then, released Douhou whose shot suffered the same fate as Steven’s. Chidi had another chance but Mahindra United failed to make the most of it.

The 22nd minute saw the Red Devils create another move from the right as Chidi forced his way past Mir Farooq and his resulting cross for Pradeep and Douhou in the box never produced the desired result as the last man cleared the impending danger, though only just.

At the other end, Mohammedan soon looked to get more of the ball and their confidence grew with each touch. Adebayo’s driver from 25 yards missed the target by inches. Mahindra won a free-kick after Chidi was fouled by defender Madhab Das and the shot by Pradeep wasn’t worth anything.

Mike Okoro latched onto a floater and got the better of Sushant Matthew and his fierce right footer was well saved by Mahindra custodian Subashish Chowdhary. The Ghanaian was easily getting past Steven and Sushant for his moves and looked at ease. Mir Farroq and Chidi Edeh suffered a clash of heads in the 37th minute.

Vimal Pariyar had a brilliant chance after he took the ball from Sukhwinder Singh at the half line and his pacy run caught several defenders wanting. His final shot lacked power and went wide.

Both teams were cautious in early stages of the second half with the first real chance coming only after twelve minutes as Douhou’s ball into the box wasn’t connected by midfielder Pradeep.

There was some shifting for Mahindra United as Steven was substituted for Sushil Kumar with Pradeep moving back in the defence while Sushant occupying the right flank.

Mike Okoro initiated a brilliant counterattack and ran more than half the field with a good move involving Vimal Pariyar but as the Ghanaian attempted to cross from the left flank, he hit the ball straight to Dhanraj Ravanan.

The very next moment saw Chidi hit a shot instead of passing it to Sushil, who spent all his energy in calling for the ball, after turning a Mohammedan defender which was easily collected by Tharangachan.

Mahindra had a good chance in the 68th minute as Douhou got the better of Anit Ghosh and Gurpreet Singh and was almost in a one-on-one position but an alert Tharangaachan came out to ward off the danger. Mahindra skipper Ajayan blasted from 25 yards but saw his effort not testing the Mohammedan custodian.

A Gautam Thakur header could have almost gone in had it not been for goalkeeper Subashish Chowdhary who dived to his right to save after Mike Okoro crossed.

The very next minute saw Mohammedan float the ball and Mike Okoro nipped the ball for a cool finish. Pradeep missed the header completely while goalkeeper Subashish came out.

Sukhwinder Singh’s strike from 25 yards tested Tharangachan’s reflexes and a Sushil header from the rebound went out of play.

Substitute Mohamed Rafi’s cross was headed into Sushil Kumar by Gurpreet Singh and the Mahindra striker’s shot was blocked by Anit Ghosh.

The last minute of the added time saw Mohammedan custodian Tharangachan come off his line and cleared a Douhou cross weakly. The ball went to Paresh Shivalkar whose shot went into the orbit.

Mahindra United need to sort their problems and get their league campaign back on track. They have only themselves to blame having not taken their chances early on. A good win for Mohammedan and an inspiring display by Mike Okoro who was rightly awarded the man of the match.

Final Score: 1-0

Goalscorer Mohammedan: Mike Okoro (74th min)