MANJERI: The remaining last spot in the Group Stages of the Hero Super Cup was snatched away in style by Goa giants Churchill Brothers when they earned a resounding 6-0 victory over Real Kashmir at the Payyanad Stadium, Manjeri, on Thursday, April 6, 2023. Liberian striker Ansumana Kromah was the star performer with four goals against his name.
While the ardent fans of the two teams would remember them engaging in highly spirited rivalry in the Hero I-League only a few months ago, Thursday’s knock-out encounter was a complete contradiction, with Churchill Bothers enjoying total control over the proceedings.
The competitive edge of the match was more or less finished off in the first half itself, when the winners raced to a 3-0 lead before the referee blew for the breather. The scenario hardly changed in the second half, either, as the men from Srinagar could hardly put up a fightback to avoid further embarrassment.
With Real Kashmir not displaying enough attacking flair, Churchill took the lead in the 6th minute of the match off a penalty kick. Real Kashmir goalkeeper Imran Arshad committed the blunder of bringing down Churchill midfielder Anil Rama Gaonkar inside the box and paid the penalty for it. Uruguayan striker Martin Nicolas Chavez scored from the spot with consummate ease as he placed the ball to the corner of the net with a deft strike.
Any hope of Real Kashmir making a turnaround after conceding an early goal was soon dashed as Churchill continued to attack relentlessly. While their goalkeeper Nora Fernandes hardly touched the ball, his counterpart remained a busy man under the Real Kashmir bar.
The losers certainly didn’t learn from their mistakes and conceded yet another penalty kick in the 35th minute. This time the culprit was their skipper Jestin George, who used unfair means to bring down Kingslee Fernandes inside the Srinagar team box. The penalty was converted by Liberian Ansumana Kromah.
The Goan side, who, by now, were simply toying with the rival defence, struck the third goal at the stroke of half time when Kromah scored once again – this time it was a timely header from a rebound.
After the change of ends, Real Kashmir literally caved in, almost allowing free rein to their rivals. Kromah completed his hat-trick in the 60th minute when he made the most of a pass provided by Chavez. As if to celebrate his hat-trick, the Liberian added one more to his tally in the very next minute. He appeared unstoppable as he made a solo run to put Churchill Brothers in a 5-0 lead.
The sixth goal came in the 75th minute. Sardor Jakhonov, a recruit from Uzbekistan, had the opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet against a hapless defence.
With this result, Churchill Brothers now join Mumbai City FC, Chennaiyin FC, and NorthEast United FC in Group D of the Hero Super Cup.