Category: Domestic

2nd Division League: Philip Adjah’s hat-trick goes in vain as final round berth continues to elude Mohammedan

JAMSHEDPUR: Skipper Philip Adjah Tetteh’s hat-trick went in vain as Mohammedan Sporting Club failed to qualify for the Final Round of 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League despite winning their last Preliminary Round match 4-2 against Jamshedpur FC Reserves on Friday at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur. 

Going into the match, Mohammedan SC knew they had to win at any cost while at the same time hoping that TRAU FC and Rainbow AC drop points. Though ATK Reserves did them a favour by beating Rainbow AC 2-1, but Princewill Emeka’s late goal shattered Mohammedan SC’s dreams as TRAU edged past Chhinga Veng FC 3-2 to take the second spot in Group C.

Mohammedan SC finish the Preliminary Round campaign on third spot in Group C with 16 points from 10 matches, one shy of TRAU who book their place in the Final Round alongside Chhinga Veng FC (20 points).

Desmos Arthur Kouassi (13′) opened the scoring for Mohammedan SC before Adjah (17′, 28′ & 52′) single-handedly dismantled Jamshedpur. Nonetheless, the hosts did not go down without a fight as they pulled a couple of goals back though Sohrab Akhtar (15′) and Subhankar Sana (58′).

Mohammedan SC were expecting a tough encounter when they hosted Jamshedpur in Kalyani last month and that’s precisely what they got in a high-scoring affair.

Kouassi started it all with a good finish after 13 minutes, Jamshedpur keeper Amrit Gope trying but unable to keep the Ivorian’s strike out. That lead lasted just eight minutes though as Sohrab launched a thunderous long-range shot that had the beating of Mohammedan SC goalkeeper Priyant Singh.

Nonetheless, Mohammedan SC regained their lead in the 17th minute when Adjah picked his spot and fired home from the edge of the penalty area.

It was 3-1 in the 28th minute when Kouassi was hauled down in the box and Adjah converted the penalty to start a period in which Mohammedan SC had Jamshedpur under severe pressure, however, poor decision-making let them down in the final third which saw Raghu Nandy’s charges went into the breather leading 3-1.

Mohammedan SC virtually finished off the game seven minutes after restart as Adjah showed excellent persistence to ride a tackle from a Jamshedpur defender and scuffed his shot into the back of the net for his tenth goal of the campaign.

Nonetheless, Jamshedpur did not lose hope and attacked with pace. The hosts were rewarded for their efforts in 58th minute through Subhankar, but it only served to lessen the margin as Mohammedan SC held for a well-deserved 4-2 win.

2nd Division League: Chase for the final round spot goes down to the wire in Group C

KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club have a chance to qualify for the final round of 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League on the final match-day of preliminary round Group C but they will be up against an tricky Jamshedpur FC Reserves on Friday at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur, kick-off 3 pm.

With Chhinga Veng FC (20 points) already booked their place in the final round, three teams in Group C are separated by just one point and Mohammedan SC with 13 points from 9 matches are ranked fourth, owing to an inferior head-to-head record with local-rivals Rainbow AC, who also have the same number of points. TRAU FC are a point above the both Kolkata outfits given they have amassed 14 points in their 9 games so far.

A week ago, the Black Panthers were odds on favourite to make it to the final round following three successive victories. They have scored 13 goals in those three matches and conceded none, however, they faced a massive set back in their previous match when they were beaten 0-2 by Rainbow AC and now have to depend on others to reach the final round.

The Black Panthers will qualify for the final round if and only if they leave the ground with all three points in their last match and other results go their way. Nonetheless, TRAU FC or Rainbow AC’s win will anyway leave the Black Panthers empty-handed irrespective of the result in the Steel City.

If TRAU and Rainbow drop points in their last matches which will be against Chhinga Veng and ATK Reserves respectively, the Black Panthers will be able to seal the final round berth for the first time since 2015/16 season with a win over Jamshedpur.

Should both Mohammedan SC and Rainbow win their games and TRAU lose or draw theirs then Rainbow will go though as they boast a better head to head record over Mohammedan SC.

Meanwhile, TRAU are the only team amongst the three who are not dependent on any other outcome to reach the final round if they secure all three points against Chhinga Veng. They can also get the job done with a draw or even worse given that other two outcomes in Jamshedpur and Kolkata go accordingly.

Nonetheless, should all three teams end their campaign with same points; still Rainbow would make it merry thanks to their better head-to-head records taking all three teams into consideration.

“It will be a tough match. Jamshedpur are a very good side,” claimed Raghunath Nandy, the technical director of Mohammedan SC. “I always tell the players to focus on the match but not on the league table. We prefer to go match by match and it will be same tomorrow. I am not doing any calculation; this is the last game so we have to get three points. Let’s see what happens next. I am only thinking what is under my control.”

FIFA President congratulates Chennai City on maiden I-League title

NEW DELHI: FIFA President Gianni Infantino congratulated Chennai City FC for winning their maiden Hero I-League title, in a letter addressed to the All India Football Federation.

“I was delighted to hear that Chennai City FC have been crowned 2018/19 I-League Champions. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate them for their first ever championship title,” wrote Infantino.

“This is, no doubt, the result of effort and hard work, and everybody involved can be proud of this great achievement. I encourage them to continue working with determination and motivation,” he further stated. “On behalf of the entire football community, I take this opportunity to thank Chennai City FC and your federation for helping spread the positive message of football and foster the practice of this beautiful game that unites us all.”

Chennai City FC won their maiden Hero I-League title earlier this month, after a thrilling final-day finish, that saw them end the league with 43 points, just a point above Kolkata Giants East Bengal. 

Chennai City FC dominate I-League awards

Chennai March 20, 2019: Newly-crowned champions of India, Chennai City FC, were awarded the Hero I-League trophy in a ceremony in Chennai, on Wednesday.

Chennai, who had wowed the fans with their exciting brand of football, pipped Kolkata giants Quess East Bengal by just one point, in yet another race to the finish that lasted till the final day of the season.

“We have put Tamil Nadu football in the map with this win, and I’m very happy that the state is getting the recognition. Also, I’m delighted that more and more local players have come through and won the Hero I-League medal,” said Chennai City co-owner Rohith Ramesh.

The Hero I-League trophy was handed over to the Coimbatore-based club by All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar.

Mr. Das stressed on the importance of strategic planning that got the club to the title. He said, “Chennai City FC’s triumph this season has been a true testament of their planning, strategising and execution. I, on the behalf of the AIFF, would like to congratulate Rohith Ramesh and the entire Chennai City FC for their achievement, that too only in their third year in the top flight of Indian Football.”

Mr. Dhar marvelled at the fact that a club that was formed a little over three years back, has been able to topple the traditional giants of the game and gone on to win the prestigious title.

“It’s a stupendous achievement by the club, to win the Hero I-League trophy within just three-and-a-half years of its existence. I would like to send my heartiest congratulations to the owners, club management, and the players for this brilliant win,” he said.

Along with the Hero I-League trophy, the individual and the club awards for the season was also announced.

List of awards for Hero I-League 2018-19

Hero I-League Fair Play Award: Shillong Lajong

Highest Scorer of Hero I-League: Willis Plaza (Churchill Brothers) & Pedro Manzi (Chennai City FC)

Hero MotoCorp Best Goalkeeper: Bilal Khan (Real Kashmir FC)

Jamail Singh Best Defender Award: Roberto Eslava (Chennai City FC)

Hero I-League Best Half (Midfielder) Award: Nestor Jesus Gordillo (Chennai City FC)

Hero I-League Best Forward Award: Pedro Manzi (Chennai City FC)

Syed Abdul Rahim Best Coach Award: Akbar Nawas (Chennai City FC)

Hero of the League: Pedro Manzi (Chennai City FC)

Best Home Match Organisers: Quess East Bengal

Roshan, Altamash on target as Bengaluru FC B beat ARA FC

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC B got back to winning ways with a dominant 2-0 win over Ahmedabad-based ARA FC in a Round-6 encounter of the Hero 2ndDivision League at the Bengaluru Football Stadium, on Wednesday. Second half goals from Naorem Roshan Singh (47’) and Altamash Sayed (73’) sealed the points for Naushad Moosa’s Blue Colts, as they moved seven points clear at the top of Group A in the standings, while extending their unbeaten run to six games.

Going into the game after a goalless draw against LoneStar Kashmir five days ago, Coach Naushad Moosa made one change, with versatile midfielder Biswa Darjee replacing Sairuat Kima in the Starting XI. In a half that saw very few clear chances for either side, it was BFC’s Roshan Singh who came the closest to find the back of the net, but the winger’s left-footed grounder came off the upright after he managed to create space outside the box and take a swipe in the 36th minute.

ARA ’keeper Abhishek Das pulled off a point blank save from a Myron Mendes header after Altamash Sayed’s cross as both teams went into the tunnel with the scores unchanged. The second half sprung to life inside two minutes as the hosts broke the deadlock. Roshan Singh capitalised on a miscued clearance from Abhishek and slotted home from close for his fourth goal of the campaign.

The early goal gave Moosa’s boys a much-needed confidence boost, as they began dominating proceedings even more. With ARA just pushing up on counters, BFC B practically stayed put in the rival half for most of the second period.

Parag Shrivas had a good chance when he set on a solo down the middle, but his powerful drive was tipped over by Das in the 70th minute. However, the ARA ’keeper was helpless three minutes later when a quick interplay between substitutes Advait Shinde and Amay Morajkar on the right saw the latter send Altamash free in the box who took a touch before calmly finishing at the far post to make it 2-0.

Bengaluru FC B now travel north to face LoneStar Kashmir on Wednesday, March 27, in a fixture that has been rescheduled to take place at the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Sports Complex, in Katra, Jammu.

I-League clubs proposed a new league format

CHENNAI: I-League clubs held a meeting in Chennai in sidelines of Chennai City FC’s crowning event and worked-out a new League structure involving 36 clubs. The restructuring plan is sent to AIFF on 18th March 2019 and 9 I-League clubs wants to meet AIFF president, Praful Patel to discuss I-Leagues future.

In the restructured League 20 clubs will play in the top tier and will pay 2 crore fees instead of 13-18 crores franchisee fees paid by Indian Super League Clubs at present. 2 teams will be relegated and 2 will be promoted from 2nd Division every season.

Concern Areas

I-League clubs have been the backbone of the development of Indian football and is now facing an uncertain future.

All ISL Indian players have their roots in some I-League Club or the other but that fact is being overlooked.

There is no marketing of the league whatsoever.

The question arises why is these new franchises being protected over heritage clubs of the country.

As per the current format, the Franchises of ISL are incurring huge loss every year and there are absolutely no chances or a roadmap to recover the losses in the near future. Hence the sustainability of the League falls under a big Question.

Way Forward

A 20 team professional league i.e. – IFL (Indian Football League)

Duration of the league: 9 Months, September to May.

Cup games to be played between game weeks. (European format)

Providing players with approximately 40 matches which is a minimum requirement for their development.

Marketing of the league to be done centrally.

All matches to be broadcasted live.

Promotion and Relegation to be implemented with no exemptions. (2 teams promoted and 2 teams relegated)

Parachute payment to be made to relegated teams.

Maximum number of 4 foreigners in each team (More focus on domestic players + reduced overall budget.)

Mandatory signing of players from home states. (Developing local talent and maintaining community connect)Strong Youth Development Projects of all teams.

Financial Suggestions

At present ISL clubs are paying franchise fee of INR 13-18 Crores and receiving INR 8-12 Crores from the central pool.

FSDL effectively raised net 150 Crores by marketing the 95 games in the season.

The proposed 20 team revamped League, would have 380 matches. (4X the current number)

We can take a conservative/ practical approach and generate a total net sponsorship revenue to the tune of INR 325 Crores (Slightly more than 2X increase).

This revenue can be divided in the following way:
                           20 teams X 12 crores = 240 Crores
                           Pool amount to AIFF = 50 Crores
                           16 teams of 2nd Division X 2 crores = 32 Crores
                           Parachute payment (2 relegated teams) X 2 crores = 4 Crores 

Investments can be done by the clubs in youth development, Infrastructure development (floodlights, various rooms, etc), fan and community engagement, in-stadia experience enhancements and improve overall home match organisation.

The additional funds available with the clubs would help them to fulfil various AFC club licensing criteria in its true spirit.

Mandatory 10% of team’s budget to be spent on youth development in line with  AFC Club Licensing Criteria.

Each team to pay INR 2 Crore participation money to AIFF / FSDL and no other franchisee / participation fee.

ISL 5 Final: Stunning Rahul Bheke header wins title for Bengaluru FC

Mumbai: Rahul Bheke wrote the last lines in a script that saw Bengaluru FC crowned Indian Super League champions with a 1-0 win over FC Goa in the final, held at the Mumbai Football Arena, in Andheri, on Sunday. The Blues’ defenders 118th minute header from a Dimas Delgado corner sealed the title for Carles Cuadrat’s men, who secured their sixth trophies in as many seasons.

In keeping with the build-up to what was touted as a battle of equals, Cuadrat and Lobera both started with a 4-2-3-1. The Bengaluru boss paired Rahul Bheke and Juanan Gonzalez in the centre of defence, while Harmanjot Khabra dropped back from the midfield to right-back and Nishu Kumar kept his position on the left in defence. Alex Barrera, playing only his third game for the club, had Dimas Delgado for company in the midfield. In attack, the trio of Miku, Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri had Xisco Hernandez sitting just behind them to orchestrate chances.

The Blues had the first whiff of goal when Miku, picking a pass from Chhetri, weaved his way into the Goa box only for ’keeper Naveen Kumar to get to the ball before the Venezuelan looked set to pull the trigger. Miku had another big chance in the 26th minute when Udanta’s shot on goal ended up at his feet. The striker brought the ball under control, got past an advancing Kumar but couldn’t do much with an angle that was tight.

Goa survived the first half without conceding given Bengaluru had the better of the chances in attack, but were dealt a blow when captain Mandar Rao Dessai had to be substituted with Saviour Gama, after the left-back pulled a hamstring, with minutes to the break.

After a cautious re-start to the game, Goa began finding their feet in attack, but kept running into Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who saw off a few half-chances without much fuss. Ahmed Jahouh had the best chance, picking up a lay-off from Jackichand Singh only to see his attempt on target with the side of his foot, fly straight at Sandhu.

With a little more than twenty minutes to regulation time, Cuadrat made his first change, replacing Barrera with the more attacking Luisma Villa.

Bengaluru had the chance to stick one leg in the door when Xisco picked Miku with a deft touch in the box in the 81st minute. The striker beat the last line defence and poked past an outstretched Kumar, only to see the ball come off the post. Goa then survived another Bengaluru attack in the third minute of stoppage time when Miku looked to hook the ball beyond Kumar from in the box. But Mourtada Fall was at hand to head the attempt out for a corner as referee Taqi Jahari blew his whistle to take the final into extra time.

The first half of extra time looked like passing by with only Xisco’s rasping drive from 30 yards that Kumar kept out, worth talking about. But that was till Jahouh lashed out at Miku and caught the striker in his midriff on the follow through of a challenge. Already booked in the first half, the Moroccan midfielder was sent off by Jahari, reducing Goa to ten men with fifteen minutes to play for.

Looking to make the most of the numerical advantage, Cuadrat made his second change, bringing on winger Boithang Haokip for Nishu Kumar while also sending on Kean Lewis in place of Udanta Singh. Bengaluru broke the deadlock just two minutes from the final whistle.

Having won a corner off Gama, Dimas swung in a set piece that found Bheke unmarked in the area. In space and with time at his mercy, the defender looped a header wide and clear of Naveen in the Goa goal, as the ball shook the net off the upright to send the traveling Bengaluru supporters into delirium. Bengaluru then sent on Albert Serran in place of Xisco as Cuadrat put a lid on things to secure the Blues’ first ever Indian Super League crown.

Rainbow dent Mohammedan’s final round hopes

KALYANI: Rainbow Athletic Club dented Mohammedan Sporting Club’s hopes of qualifying for the final round of the 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League after beating them 2-0 in an Preliminary Round Group C clash on Sunday.

In a tight game which could have gone either way, Rainbow AC scored on the either side of the pitch through Joel Sunday (4′) and Sourav Roy (90+2′) to hand Black Panthers their fourth defeat of the campaign.

Going into this clash, Mohammedan SC (13 points) were on second place in Group C. But now must beat Jamshedpur FC Reserves in their last Preliminary Round match and at the same time hope TRAU FC (14 Points) and Rainbow AC (13 Points) drop points in their respective matches in order to qualify for the final round first time since 2015/16 season.

Mohammedan SC, enjoying good support in the stands, started the match on the front foot and had a few promising moments early on, but were kept in check by Rainbow AC’s defense of Emmanuel Chigozie and Enjamul Haque. 

It was at the other end, however, where the opening goal arrived and it was Sunday who scored to give Rainbow AC the lead in the 4th minute.

Rainbow AC’s lead, overall, seemed a deserved, though, for the manner in which their pace at times embarrassed Mohammedan SC defence, such as in the 11th minute where, with Mohammedan SC defenders scattered on the ground, Sunday’s shot thundered off the upright.

Mohammedan SC though created many chances but failed to equalize, as they failed to stick to their passing game policy. The players seemed to be more keen on playing direct football sending long balls from the centre-line as the Rainbow AC defence held firm and ensured that they retained the advantage going into the break.

In the second-half, the sides came out of the changing rooms with different tactics. Mohammedan SC were the first to surge forward, once again with the blistering pace of Philip Adjah, but Rainbow AC’s defence were up to the standard and managed to clear.

Mohammedan SC had most of the possession as the game wore on. But Rainbow AC intelligently and stubbornly defended their lead.

And with the home team pressing forward, their could always be the chance the other way, materialising when Sunday’s pass picked out Sourav to produce a fine strike into the top-right corner to put the game beyond doubt.

ISL 5: Bengaluru FC take the floor with Goa for one final dance

Mumbai: It’s been touted as the perfect pick for a showpiece event by fans and neutrals alike, as Bengaluru FC take on FC Goa in an Indian Super League final that holds the promise of going down as a game for the ages. The sold-out Mumbai Football Arena will see a new ISL champion by the end of Sunday night and Blues’ Head Coach Carles Cuadrat hopes that his men come out victors in what he’s labelled as a battle of heroes.

The game also presents Bengaluru FC and FC Goa a chance at redemption after both teams fell short at the final hurdle once before. The Gaurs went down 3-2 to Chennaiyin FC in the 2015 final, while Bengaluru went down to the same opponents by the exact same scoreline in last season’s summit clash at the Kanteerava.

While results in the League stages count for little in a format that needs you to have one perfect performance if you’ve made it to the end, Bengaluru will draw confidence from the fact that they have beaten Goa both home and away, this season. The Blues nicked a 2-1 win in Fatorda early in the competition and followed it up with a rousing 3-0 defeat of Lobera’s side last month. However, Cuadrat refused to buy suggestions that the results made his side favourites ahead of Sunday’s final.

“In what is a very genuine and honest opinion, I think both teams are favourites. There are a lot of factors that go on to determine a final and as far as the build-up to it is concerned, Bengaluru and Goa have reached this moment with similar numbers on so many fronts. Both teams possess quality all over the pitch and we both like to play football that flows,” said Cuadrat, at the pre-match press conference, on Saturday.

The Blues had dominated the League stages last season only to falter in the final and Cuadrat said that while his boys were keen to set the record straight, playing without pressure will be the key. “I know my boys are eager to win titles, and this one in particular. But I want to stay calm, play well and manage the game in a way that will help us instead of putting pressure on us.”

Both, Bengaluru and Goa possess game-changing individuals all over the pitch and it could well be one of those names that decide the way the night ends.

In Ferran Corominas, Goa have the top scorer of the League (16 goals) for a second season running. And while he has struggled to show any of that form against Bengaluru, the Blues know better than to let their guard down with the Spaniard around the box. Coro has been ably supported by Brandon Fernandes on the left and Jackichand Singh on the right, in attack. The duo, relying on pace, have chipped in with vital goals and regular assists and the Bengaluru defence will have their task cut out.

But the back four on the other end of the pitch will also be making notes of their own, given they will be coming up against the attacking trio of Miku, Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri. The Bengaluru skipper has a penchant for turning up on the big stage and with Miku showing more than just signs of a full return to fitness and form after a long injury lay-off, Bengaluru could well be calling the shots in the battle of the final third. Udanta too has been a vital cog in Cuadrat’s wheel this season where he has scored, assisted and even tracked back to help out with defensive duties.

“Finals, in general, bring out one special performance. It’s happened in games all over the world. Some players shine spectacularly in big games. We have players like Sunil, Gurpreet, Udanta and many others who can shine. The problem tomorrow is that Goa also have many players who can have a great game. Let’s see what happens, hopefully we can stop the Goa players from being heroes,” said Cuadrat.

The teams had contrasting routes to the final. While Goa romped home with a 5-2 aggregate win Goa, Bengaluru overturned a 2-1 deficit at the Kanteerava to go through 4-2 on aggregate against NorthEast United. And the Blues know well enough that they will have to dig deep and come up with another inspired performance in Mumbai on Sunday if they are to lay the ghost of last season to rest.

Raghu Nandy warns against complacency ahead of Rainbow clash

KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club may be on their best run of form in months, but technical director Raghunath Nandy has cautioned his players about getting overconfident when they face Rainbow Athletic Club in an crucial Hero 2nd Division League Preliminary Round Group C fixture on Sunday, kick-off 3 pm.

Nandy’s side head into the encounter on the back of a morale-boosting 6-0 win over TRAU FC, while Rainbow AC suffered a 0-3 loss against Jamshedpur FC Reserves.

The former defender reminded his outfit about the fine line between confidence and arrogance as they look to secure maximum points against their Calcutta Football League rivals.

“There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence – we need to stay confident without being too arrogant,” Nandy said ahead of the clash.

Although Mohammedan SC have been invisible in their last three games, scoring 13 goals and conceding none, but Nandy is fully aware that anything less than three points against Rainbow AC, who are winless in their last five outings, will invalidate all their previous hard work.

“We are highly focused, we are concentrating on the match and we will treat it like a match as if we have not been having the run that we are on. We appreciate the run, we are thankful about it. We are getting results, but we have to be careful,”

“Rainbow will be up for playing an open game and will approach the fixture in a carefree fashion. We must be aggressive in order to beat them. We will need to be better than them from a technical aspect and also remain patient for our scoring opportunities,” he added.

Going into the match, Mohammedan SC will be without the services of Ivorian striker Desmos Arthur Kouassi, who is suspended for the match. While his absence may be a concern to supporters, Nandy has no such fears and insists no one in his squad is irreplaceable.

“Obviously this will be a blow for us given the goal threat that Arthur has been here. But we have players who can replace him and we will manage that,” said Nandy.