Dempo, JCT set up Durand summit clash

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Dempo Sports Club, Goa, and JCT, Phagwara, have reached the finals of the Osian's Durand Cup football tournament.

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

Dempo Sports Club, Goa, and JCT, Phagwara, reached the finals of the Osian's Durand Cup football tournament in contrasting fashions at the Ambedkar Stadium on Saturday. Dempo were always in control as they outclassed Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan 2-0 with goals from Brazilian Robert Mendes Silva (20th minute) and Anthony Pereira (74th). On the other hand, JCT had to fight tooth and nail against Sporting Clube-de-Goa and left it till the 117th minute before Nigerian Chidi Edeh scored the solitary goal against his previous club. The final will be the second time the two teams face other in four days after the soporific 1-1 game they played on Friday to ensure their passage into the last four. But with the prestige of being the winners of the third oldest football tournament in the world on the line, Monday's final is not expected to be as friendly as the quarterfinal league match. Maiden final It is Dempo's maiden entry into the title round, while JCT have made it so far for the first time in 10 years after their fifth triumph in 1996. Dempo took the lead when a speculative shot on goal from Robert Silva, popularly known as Beto, took an awkward bounce in front of Bagan custodian Sangram Mukherji. The custodian got a hand to the ball, but could not stop it from finding the bottom corner. Though the goalkeeper could blame poor luck for the setback, it is true that he was not covering the line of the ball, as a result of which his body was not acting as the second line of defence. The loss and Bagan's failure to lift the Calcutta League has put the future of coach Biswajit Bhattcharya in doubt and it is learnt that he is considering stepping down. The club will decide on this matter after a meeting of the executive committee members. The coach, who was appointed in March, put the blame of Saturday's lacklustre performance on himself. "The failure of my team is my failure. I am responsible for the defeat," Bhattacharya said, which, however, did not pacify the passionate Bagan supporters who had gathered to watch their side play. Thrilling contest Even though the goal in the JCT-Sporting match came very late in extra-time, the game was an exciting affair with both teams going at each other and there was a nice ebb and flow to the game. JCT were denied in the 13th minute when Chidi knocked down a cross from the left flank, only for Parveen Kumar scissor kick to come back off the underside of the crossbar. A little earlier, a free-kick by Bello Rasaq was saved by JCT keeper Kalyan Chaubey. A shot by Sporting's Macpherlin Dudu was saved on the line by Baldeep Singh. In the second half, the Goan outfit upped the ante and came close when Dudu chipped the advancing keeper on the edge of the area, only for Harpreet Singh to make the goal-line save. With the match deadlocked after 90 minutes, the game proceeded into extra-time with the aching bodies providing more openings for both sides. (PTI)

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