After four seasons, the refurbished Cooperage finally played host to a competitive football match yesterday.
Air-India's ND Opara scores against RCF at the Cooperage yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble.
Air India beat Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers (RCF) 4-1 in the opening Elite Division ‘Super Six’ play-off match of the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) League at the South Mumbai ground, which now boasts of an artificial turf besides four floodlights, a practice area, new dressing rooms and 5,000 bucket seats.
However, around 100 fans that turned up yesterday were unable to witness the match from the new stands and instead had to be content by watching the action from chairs placed around the pitch, as the stadium hasn’t received an Occupation Certificate.
Thumbs-up from players
Despite this, the stadium received a thumbs-up from the players and the spectators. Air India’s striker Okorogor Praise said, “Cooperage looks lovely and it is even better than Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium. Now, Mumbai can compete with any other city. It was a great feeling to play here.”
Meanwhile, Sajid Sabir Ansari, a spectator, said, “I am really happy that Cooperage has started hosting matches. At the same time, I am sad that I was unable to watch the match from the stands as I was not able to see the action clearly from ground level.”
MDFA secretary Hugh Banerjee said, “I am glad that finally we were able to give the players an opportunity to play at Cooperage. We were trying to get our league matches to be played here for the last two years, but with the delay in getting the OC, we were unable to get the go-ahead.”
Opara, Praise score
Meanwhile in the play-off match, Allan Dias, Praise, ND Opara and Anees K scored for the Airmen while Kuldip Masih netted one for RCF.