Francis Onyeama struck a late goal to pilot Southern Samity to victory over Mumbai Tigers and a place in the final round of the Second Division I-League at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday.
Samity tamed Tigers 2-1 in their final Round-I league match in Group ‘C’, with Onyeama’s goal coming in the 85th minute. The win lifted Samity to top of the table with 17 points, one point ahead of Tigers (16) and Vasco SC (16).
But Tigers took the second qualifying spot from the group for the final phase as they had beaten Vasco 1-0 in their clash.
Joining Tigers and Samity in the final phase — beginning here on March 30 — are Langsning FC and Rangdajied United FC (both from Group A) and Mohammedan Sporting and Bhawanipore (both from Group B).
Needing a victory to qualify, Samity started off brightly and took the lead as early as in the 11th minute. David Ngaihte put the ball into the back of the net with a right-footer after his team-mate Sovan Chakraborty failed to connect a left-footer from close range.
Samity then took control of the proceedings and slowed down the pace of the game. Tigers, who had already been assured of a berth in the next round irrespective of the result of this match, seemed more satisfied to complete the formalities.
However, things changed completely when their Mahesh Lotlikar introduced their three key players — Paresh Shivalkar, N P Pradeep and Mohammed Rafi — in the 66th minute.
Six minutes later, Rafi headed home the equaliser off a Bikash Jairu cross from the right.
Samity goal then survived a few anxious moments before the Kolkata outfit sealed the issue. Onyeama placed a header to the right of Tigers goalkeeper Avijit Ghosh after being fed by substitute Ramesh B.
In an inconsequential match, Eagles FC were held to a 2-2 draw by Hindustan FC. Andrea Silva (19th) and Mahender Singh (64th) scored for Hindustan before Eagles drew level through Rino Pinto (85th, penalty) and Satheesh T S (87th).