Churchill Bros in semifinals

Churchill Bros in semifinals

The stress of playing back-to-back tournaments was apparent on the faces of the I-League champions.

Meikingai Kamei’s stinging right footer in the 55th minute gave Assam Rifles the lead in the Group I quarterfinal league match.

The lead, however, lasted just 15 minutes after Charan Rai scored from a solo run as last year’s runners-up  made the last four.

Churchill Brothers made a slow start and never looked like a team that had won the IFA Shield on Saturday.

Star striker Odafe Onyeka Okolie was heavily guarded while the speedy Assam Rifles forwards Kamei and Akum Ao making regular inroads into the Churchill box but an alert stopper Gourmangi Singh kept them at bay.

Goalless first session

After a goalless first half, Assam Rifles came out with a better game plan and showed more heart.

They had to wait for 10 minutes as the Churchill defence was completely left off-guard and Kamei’s screamer went past goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya and crashed into the top net.

Assam Rifles came close to doubling the lead in the 67th minute but Kamie failed to connect his header to a precise cross from Ajit Singh.

Against the run of play, Churchill found the equaliser after Rai made a solo run from a through pass, dribbled past two defenders, and slotted into the net to bring back the Goan outfit into the game.

In the last ten minutes, Churchill pressed hard for the winner but luck was not on their side. The closest they came was when Odafe’s shot hit the upright on its way out and they ended up splitting points.

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