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Dodsal FC clinch first piece of silverware

Newly floated Dodsal FC did not have to wait long to be third time lucky. They clinched their first chunk of silverware in their second appearance in a title round (last month they had narrowly lost to Air-India via the tie-breaker in the final of the Durand Cup) when they routed Mumbai Customs 5-0 at the RCF Sports Complex today to clinch the Nadkarni Cup on debut.

A goal by Sunil Kumar in added time in the first half was the turning point in the match for Bimal Ghosh’s boys and in the second session strikes by Rabindra Ghosh, Bikash Jairu, skipper Paresh Shivalkar and a penalty conversion by foreign recruit Demba Diakhate helped settle the issue. Dodsal could have increased the margin but they were denied at least two clear penalties by the referee.

While the result was never in doubt what with marquee names like N P Pradeep, Mohammed Rafi and other I-League players on the pitch and Surkumar Singh among the reserves, the match was not as one-sided as the scoreline suggested. But for the heroics of Arup Debnath, voted player of the tournament, the script could have taken a different turn. The Dodsal shot stopper pulled off three fantastic saves in the first half when the revenue men were running riot and had the men in blue by the jugular. In the second half too Debnath came to the rescue act on a few occasions to keep a clean sheet through the entire tournament.

For Bimal Ghosh, who has seen both highs and lows with giant slayers Air-India both as a player and coach, it was redemption time. “It is good to win something, especially for a new team and this win will give us momentum going forward. Full credit to the team for pulling it off,” he told www.sportskeeda.com.

He ascribed the sub par performance in the first half to shoddy ground conditions, claiming that his wards are used to practicing on a good surface – the artificial turf at the training ground at Fr Agnel’s sports complex in Navi Mumbai.

While not taking away the sheen from Dodsal’s triumph, it must be mentioned that Mumbai FC and Air-India did not take part in the tournament presumably because of their I-League commitments while ONGC were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Central Railway.

Ghosh’s next foray is expected to be the Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup in Gangtok which kicks off on October 30. Incidentally, Ghosh has won it twice with Air-India previously. He will however require quality foreigners to make an impression in the higher echelons of the game in India and well as qualify for the I-League in their first season.

The team owned by the UAE-based conglomerate are not short on ambition and not lacking in moolah either,  considering that they have spent a reported Rs 10 crore in their debut season. But it will require all of Ghosh’s expertise and experience, both of which he possesses in plenty, to mount Dodsal’s successful campaign. The battle-scarred veteran is up for the challenge.

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