BEML ride on Hamza heroics

Nigerian nets twice to steer his side past MEG

in high spirits: BEML players celebrate their Puttaiah Memorial Cup victory over MEG on Sunday. dh photo

Nigerian under-20 striker Hamza scored on either side of half time as a charged-up BEML unit countered the resolute Sappers, emerging champions in front of a huge crowd at the Bangalore Football stadium.

While BEML cashed in on the chances that came their way, MEG had only themselves to blame after squandering sitters at will.

With the pitch playing heavy due to a constant drizzle, both teams found it hard to find their rhythm early on. Despite being blunted by the absence of key players Ngurneilal Hmar and Ajiraj due to suspension, the Sappers tried hard to seize the early advantage. They came close to taking the lead thrice in the opening 20 minutes, but lack of composure inside the box and an alert BEML custodian S Rajan kept them at bay.

In the 12th minute, Thapa relayed a superb cross from the right which was cleared by Shiva Mani straight to Suraj Singh, who hit it tamely to Rajan. Three minutes later, Rajan thwarted Lokeshwar Singh before Thapa missed another gift in the 19th minute.

The missed chances proved costly for the Sappers as BEML’s semifinal heroes  Tiken Singh and Hamza combined to hand their side the lead against the run of play in the 25th minute. Dribbling down the left, Tiken floated a neat ball into the box, and a charging Hamza beat the advancing MEG custodian Malay Paul to head the ball into the net.

Pushing hard

Stung by the setback, the generally industrious MEG pushed hard to gather lost momentum, but a second yellow for medio Girish just a minute before the hour-mark didn’t help their cause. MEG’s fate was sealed in dramatic circumstances in the 75th minute. Mahendra Mani relayed a long cross from the right at the same moment when a cracker landed a metre away from him. A waiting Hamza headed the cross for his seventh goal of the tournament.

“I love scoring goals. It just gives me immense pleasure to have taken BEML home in the semis and final,” said Hamza, who aspires to play in the European league in a year or two.

Lokeshwar Singh scored the lone goal for MEG in the 86th minute.

Bonanza

BEML announced a cash prize of Rs 10,000 for every player, with goalkeeper Rajan
and goalscorer pocketing an additional Rs 15,000 each. BEML also rather magnanimously gave away Rs 25,000 to MEG for ‘playing good football and improving the sport in the State’.

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