Thursday, 9 August, 2007

Fatima tame city cops, enter semi-finals

B D Narayankar

PUNE: For the first time, Fatima XI felt the heat of facing a formidable defence. And after failing to breach the Poona City Police citadel for close to 54 minutes, Fatima finally broke through to boot home two goals in quick succession to storm into the semi-finals of the Vahatuk football tournament at Chandrashekhar Agashe Ground here on Wednesday. Playing in soggy and slushy conditions due to overnight downpour, Fatima took their time to size things up. Their middle third struggled to function as an unit and whenever Fatima strikers - Richard Zuzart, Vijayan Arland and Viren D’Souza darted inside the box, Poona Police defenders smothered their attack with their robust ball play. Poona City Cops essayed some nice moves from both the flanks, but poor anticipation of their forwards cost them dearly. Striker Richard Flence cut a sorry figure with his bungling ways. He failed to put the ball past Fatima goalkeeper Rozario Tupsuandarya in the 7th, 12th and 13th minutes of the match. Seeing him struggle, the Police team management pushed him back and operated him in the midfield. The cops got their best chance to move ahead in the 21st minute when medio Nagesh Kamble charted a move from the left flank, floated the ball to centre forward Raju Kadam, whose shot shook the frame before sailing wide for a free kick.The cops missed yet another chance in the 27th minute through Javed Pathan, who made a run into the Fatima territory, but failed to net the first goal for Poona Police. Fatima, which seemingly played a drab game unti then, injected life into the match with Godfrey feeding Richard Zuzart, who floundered by banging the shot straight into the throat of the Poona Police goalkeeper.The second half, however, totally belonged to Fatima. They showed supremacy in dribbling, passing and sliding shots. After failing to find the target with their earlier efforts, Richard Zuzart brought his benchmates to their feet in the 54th minute with a cracking header after receiving a chip from Vijayan Arland that found the back of the Poona Police net.Five minutes later, Vijayan Arland once again floated the ball into the police box, but this burly centre forward Sanu Jacob was there to bulge the net for the second time for Fatima and with it negated all cops' hopes of mounting a late fightback.

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