Dhanpal Ganesh and Brandon Fernandes on target in Fed Cup
East Bengal joined Aizawl FC from Group A in the semi-finals of the 2017 Hero Federation Cup. Thursday’s fixtures at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack saw Chennai City take on Churchill Brothers, while Aizawl, who had already qualified for the final four, faced East Bengal.
Chennai went into their game with no chance of making the semis having lost both their opening matches. Churchill, on the other hand, knew that a win may give them an outside chance of semis qualification depending on the outcome of East Bengal’s encounter against Aizawl.
The southern-outfit though damped the Goan side’s semis aspiration by breaking the deadlock in the 18th minute through local boy Dhanpal Ganesh (Chennaiyin FC). The 25-year-old showed strength and determination with a surging run that saw him get past Churchill’s defence before slotting beyond the keeper to give his team the lead.Chennai doubled their lead in the second period courtesy of a goal from Edwin Vanspaul. Charles de Souza added gloss to the scoreline with Chennai’s third of the night 11 minutes from full-time. Former Mumbai City FC man, Brandon Fernandes did pull one back from the spot for the Konkan club but it wasn’t enough to prevent the loss as Chennai ended the tournament on a positive note with a 3-1 victory.
Churchill’s loss meant all East Bengal had to do was avoid defeat against high-flying Aizawl in the last fixture of Group A. The game ended 0-0 with both teams failing to make the most of their opportunities.
The stalemate meant that Aizawl qualified for the semis as Group A winners with seven points from three games, while The Red and Gold Brigade qualify as runners-up with five points. Chennai finished third with three points and Churchill ended up in last spot with a solitary point. The last of the group matches in this year’s Fed Cup will witness Mohun Bagan lock horns with Bengaluru FC and DSK Shivajians take on Shillong Lajong in Group B on May 12.
The Mariners have already qualified for the semis, whereas Bengaluru and DSK will be eyeing the final semis spot with both teams tied on three points. The Blues have a better goal-difference than DSK, meaning the Pune-based outfit will need to win by a handsome margin to secure qualification if both teams win their respective matches.