New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) A disappointed ONGC coach, Caitano Pinho rued the injury to striker Henry Ezeh in the semi-finals and said that was the reason for his team's 1-2 defeat to Mohammedan Sporting in the Durand Cup final here Thursday.
Henry looked completely out of sorts and failed to really test Sporting's defence. The former Air India striker missed a golden chance as the opposition goalkeeper blocked his shot.
That and another opportunity in the 11th minute were the only high points for the Nigerian striker who has found the target for his team regularly in the tournament.
"Henry suffered an injury in the semi-final and was never able to recover. He got knocks on his left ribs and the thigh and wasn't fully fit for the match," Pinho told IANS.
"But we had to play him. We didn't have a choice."
Henry too said he couldn't miss the match, as his team needed him.
"The team needed me in the match. I couldn't have sat this one out. I had trouble chasing the ball and physically I was unable to compete with their defenders due to the injuries," Henry told IANS.
"But this is part and parcel of the game. There are many times a player plays without being 100 percent fit. I just wish we could have won this game," he added.
Sporting coach Masood Abdul Aziz Bola said this was a historic win for his team that would stand them in good stead for the upcoming I-League season.
"We have won this tournament after a gap of 73 years. This is a historic win for us and a great honour," said Bola.
"We are back and now we are ready for the I-League. This win has done wonders for our confidence and has given us much needed momentum for the upcoming season," he added.
Striker Tolgay Ozbey who provided the assist for the first goal and scored the second said his team had proven that they could win games at this level.
"It's a great confidence booster for us ahead of the I-League season. We have proven that we can win games against tough opposition and I am really looking forward to the start of the season," he said.