Egyptian attacking midfielder Abdel Hamid Shabana set up one and scored the winner as Churchill Brothers SC defeated Eagles FC 2-1 in a Group A encounter at the Jawaharlal Stadium in Kochi on Friday evening to become the first club to book their place in semifinals of 35th Federation Cup.
After a goalless first half, Balwant Singh gave Churchill Brothers the lead following a Shabana free-kick but Eagles FC equalised through Koko Sakibo before Shabana confirmed the Goan club’s berth in the last four with a free-kick after Eagles FC’s Charles Dzisah had been sent off for a second yellow card.
The Red Machines were dominant in the first half as they created plenty of goal scoring opportunities but couldn’t find a way past Eagles FC’s young custodian Jagroop Singh. The former Arrows goalkeeper’s best save was a Lenny Rodrigues‘ 25-yard strike but he also made some important interventions. Churchill Brothers were also very wasteful in front of goal with Sanjay Balmuchu wasting a free header from a corner while teenager Alesh Sawant failed to hit the target twice despite having a clear sight of goal.
Having been outplayed in the first half, Eagles FC were determined to start well after the interval and had a great opportunity to score when Sakibo got away from his marker but the Nigerians effort was off target. Despite enjoying a lot of possession, Churchill Brothers’ best opportunities came from set-pieces with Balmuchu and Anthony Wolfe squandering gilt-edged chances while substitute Jaison Vales‘ free-kick was well held by Jagroop.
Churchill Brothers unsurprisingly broke the deadlock from a set-piece as Balwant brilliantly headed home from Shabana’s delivery. Eagles FC could have equalised through skipper Sushil Kumar Singh but the former India Under-23 captain couldn’t find the back of the net from close range. Sushil though played his part in the equaliser as his header took a deflection off Denzil Franco and fell kindly to Sakibo, who scored for the second straight game.
But Eagles FC’s joy was short-lived as Dzisah received his second booking for cynically bringing down Wolfe outside the box. From the resulting free-kick Shabana scored past Jagroop to seal the three points for Mariano Dias’ side.