Churchill Brothers go down 1-2 to Al Qadsia, out of AFC Cup

The Goan side, playing in their first AFC Cup after winning the 2008-09 I-League title, played their heart out but were not good enough against a more fancied Al Qadsia at Mohamed Al Hamed Stadium last night.

For Al Qadsia, Al Enezi struck twice in the 34th and 43rd minutes while Churchill pulled one back through skipper Odafa Onyeka Okolie in the 61st minute.Al Qadsia had the upper hand in the early stages of the game and created their first chance in the 12th minute when Dhary Saeed sent a cross from the left that was headed goalwards by Al Enezi but Churchill Brothers goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya pushed the ball away for a corner.

Bhattacharya was again in the thick of action one minute later when he saved a powerful shot from home team striker Bader Al Mutawa.The newly-crowned Kuwaiti Premier League champions had another chance in the 19th minute and this time Ahmad Ajab shot wide after having only the goalkeeper to beat. Bhattacharja saved his side again in the 26th minute when he blocked a rasping drive from Al Qadsia striker Al Mutawa.
The Churchill goalkeeper was finally beaten after 33 minutes when Al Mutawa broke down the left flank before sending a cross into the penalty box where Al Enezi was waiting to head the ball into the back of the net.|

Al Qadsia doubled the lead two minutes before the breather when Al Enezi headed in an Al Mutawa free-kick.The visitors thought that they have pulled a goal back in the last minute of the first half when Odafe headed the ball into the back of the Al Qadsia net from close range but it was ruled out for off-side.

Churchill Brothers started the second half well and they should have scored five minutes after the break when Ogba Kalu received a pass on the edge of the area but his shot flew just wide of the upright.

A few minutes later, Kalu's first-time shot from outside the area was denied by Al Qadsia goalkeeper Nawaf Al Khaldi.However, Churchill pressure finally paid off a minute after the hour mark when skipper Odafe controlled the ball with his chest inside the area before firing a powerful right-footer beyond Al Khaldi. Chances dried up after that and it was Al Qadsia who came closest to scoring again before the final whistle when substitute Firas Al Khatib saw his effort saved by Bhattacharja shortly before full time.Churchill Brothers coach Carlos Pereira felt satisfied his side have given a good account of themselves throughout the tournament.

The defeat was only the second in the tournament for the Indians and Pereira was happy that his players had played to the best of their ability against Al Qadsia.
"I'm satisfied with the performance as we played a good game. We had some clear chances and threatened Al Qadsia's goal on several occasions but our strikers failed to score.

"We should have even been awarded a penalty in the game which could have sent the match to extra time. We managed to force our style on Al Qadsia and showed them our capabilities," said the Brazilian.

"Al Qadsia's goals came from defensive mistakes as our defenders didn't mark them well. Our goalkeeper was at his best as well and he blocked a number of chances for Al Qadsia. We went into the competition without putting the title as our target and I believe that we managed to show good performances and go out with dignity," Pereira said.

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