A penalty from Henry Ezeh gave the Airmen the lead in the first half but a controversial goal from Liberian forward Kailo Karpeh and a long range strike from Ogba Kalu Nnanna gave the Flaming Oranje a vital win.
Having won the Goa Super Cup, Sporting came into this tournament very well prepared and were expected to make a good impression in their first game.
However a foul from Gerard D’Mello inside the box gave Air India a penalty. Former JCT and Mumbai FC striker Henry Ezeh successfully converted the spot-kick to give Santosh Kashyap’s side the lead.
Sporting, who are now back in the I-League, were unable to find the equalizer in the first half as Air India had the one goal lead at the break.
Just four minutes after the restart Sporting were level through Kailo Karpeh, who was born in Liberia but has an Australian passport.
However there was a lot of controversy with the goal as Santosh Kashyap’s players were convinced that Karpeh handled the ball before scoring and thus protested vigorously.
But the goal stood as the Goan side were back in the game and in the 63rd minute Sporting went ahead as Ogba Kalu Nnanna scored with a long range shot.
Kalu, a former I-League winner with Churchill Brothers, is one of the most experienced players in the current Sporting squad and his brilliant strike gave the Goan side the lead they were looking for.
The Flaming Oranje held on for the win and will next face Chirag United Club Kerala, who lost to Prayag United 1-0 in the earlier match of Group D.
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