Tag: I-League 2017/18

I-League 2017/18: Aizawl FC ‘two’ good for Gokulam

CALICUT: Goals from Yugo Kobayashi and Andrei Ionescu saw Aizawl FC defeat Gokulam Kerala FC 2-0 in an I-League 2017/18 clash, played at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Calicut.

The result sees Aizawl FC, who are on 10 poinst from 5 matches, move up to fifth place on the league table, while Gokulam remain second from the bottom with 4 points from 6 matches.

The hosts prefer to try to snuff Aizawl FC out. With the Bino George-coached side still far from fluent, and with their absentee list, against a full strength Aizawl FC, that was an unlikely prospect on Sunday afternoon.

The result was a quite open, fairly end-to-end game. Tellingly though, whenever Gokulam tried to up the ante Aizawl came back with a bigger response.

The teams traded attacks throughout the opening 15 minutes, with Gokulam needing defenders Emmanuel Chigozie and Dainel Addo to be at their best to deny a lively Leonce Dodoz, while Laldampuia shot just off target from a free kick at the other end.

As the half wore on, the Aizawl FC began to assume a greater control of the game and created some fine scoring chances. The first arrived in the 19th minute when Laldinliana flicked on a throw-in to find Yugo Kobayashi, but the Japanese shot over the crossbar.

Aizawl FC, thereafter, tried their best to get the breakthrough, but found it increasingly difficult as Gokulam remained resolute in defense.

However, Gokulam did succumbed to pressure and conceded when Daniel Addo tried to clear Kobayashi’s goal-bound effort from Lalram Hmunmawia’s cross but ended up putting the ball into his own net in the 45th minute. Though, initially it looked like an own goal but later it was awarded to Kobayashi.

Gokulam looked a better team after restart, and they missed a great chance to level the game within the first few minutes when Usman Ashik headed over from a corner kick.

On the other hand, Aizawl FC doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half, with Andrei Ionescu providing a beautiful finish from Lalmuankima’s pass.

Gokulam reacted by introducing strikers Jimshad U and Francis Idriss, as they proceeded to dominate the remainder of the game.

However, they were unable to find a way past Aizawl FC keeper Avilash Paul, who made several excellent saves.

Meanwhile, Aizawl FC could have even added to the scoreline through Dodoz, who found himself one-on-one with Gokulam custodian Nikhil Bernard, but his chipped finish drifted just wide of the post.

I-League 2017/18: East Bengal end 2017 with draw against Neroca

KOLKATA: East Bengal failed to wrap up 2017 with a win as Neroca FC hold them for 1-1 draw in I-League 2017/18 at Khuman Lampak Main Stadium in Imphal on Saturday.

The Kolkata giants scored through Katsumi Yusa and they remain on summit of I-League standings with 14 points from 7 league games.

On the other hand, Nedo Turkovic struck late in the second half to give the hosts a deserved share of the spoils, who now sit at number three on the league table with 11 points from 6 games.

East Bengal were the more enterprising team through the first half, and they nearly claimed the lead 7 minutes into the game when Laldanmawia Ralte fired off a shot from the edge of the area, only to be denied by Neroca goalkeeper Lalit Thapa.

The subsequent corner kick produced another effort from the visitors, with Eduardo Soares getting on the end of the set piece delivery, though his glancing header flashed just wide of the far post.

In the 12th minute East Bengal were rewarded for their positive play, with Willis Plaza providing a perfectly weighted through ball to find the run of Katsumi Yusa, who easily slotted past Lalit Thapa to make it 1-0.

Neroca FC created little in reply, with their only notable attacking effort in the first half seeing Fabien Vorbe controlling a ball in the penalty area, but any hopes of getting away a shot were quickly crushed by East Bengal custodian Luis Barreto.

The hosts were better after the break, but continued to be frustrated by a disciplined East Bengal defense. Nedo Turkovic fored over the target six minutes into the second half, while a short while after Felix Chidi saw his goal-bound effort stymied by Barreto.

At the other end, Katsumi Yusa led a quick counter-attack, but his shot took a deflection and Lalit Thapa collected the ball with ease.

The embattled goalkeeper needed to make another top save shortly after the hour mark when a free kick from Mahmoud Al Amna found Charles De Souza who headed on target.

Meanwhile, Neroca FC tried to broke through East Bengal defense and threatened to score, but couldn’t finish.

East Bengal’s resistance was finally broken by Nedo Turkovic in the 89th minute as the Bosnian scored a stunner from outside the box to make it 1-1.

Thereafter, Neroca FC continued to attack in the injury time, but could not penetrate the East Bengal defense as the game ended in a stalemate.

I-League 2017/18: Bagan fail to beat 10-man Arrows

KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan could only get away with a point against Indian Arrows in the first-ever I-League fixture at their club ground in the 2017/18 I-League in Kolkata on Friday.

Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka scored from the spot in the 27th minute but Rahul Kannoly Balan equalised in the 33rd minute. Indian Arrows skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam was expelled in the 65th minute but Mohun Bagan were unable to take advantage of the numerical advantage thereafter.

Eze Kingsley made his comeback from a one-game suspension as Rana Gharami, who won the ‘Hero of the Match’ award in the goalless draw with NEROCA was relegated to the bench. Talisman Sony Norde could only sit in the director’s box owing to his prolonged injury as Nikhil Kadam got another start of the season.

For the Indian Arrows, overjoyed with their 3-0 win over Shillong Lajong, Luis Norton de Matos made two changes to his lineup. After his wondrous goal, Nongdamba Naorem forced his way into the first eleven. Rahul Kannoly Praveen replaced Abhijit Sarkar on the flank with local boy Rahim Ali leading the line.

Right after the historic kickoff on the iconic Maidan ground, it was actually the youngsters who pressed hard despite the stiff resistance and the poor ground conditions. The hosts had two chances in the first twenty minutes which Ansumana Kromah failed to convert, the latter which he missed inside the box with only the keeper to beat.

However, the deadlock was broken by the Green and Maroon, only through a spot-kick. Nikhil Kadam was brought down by Ashish Rai inside the box in the 25th minute and Aser Pierrick Dipanda converted duly.

But, that was ruled out as a Mohun Bagan player had entered the box prematurely. The Cameroonian made no mistake on the second chance as the crowd was sent into a tizzy.

While Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Jeakson Singh made life tough from the centre of the park, Mohun Bagan looked out of shape and were not able to exert themselves on the teenagers.

Past the half-hour mark, Sanjeev Stalin released Rahim Ali on the left flank as the West Bengal-based forward beat Kinshuk Debnath for pace and Rahul Kannoly Praveen, who had changed flanks by then rushed in between the towering Eze Kingsley and Ricky Lallawmamwma to tap home.

Sanjoy Sen held his cards close to his chests as he made no further changes despite his players failing to impress. Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem had to make a double save in the dying moments of the first half as the Arrows held on.

As Nongdamba Naorem was stretchered off owing to an injury, Ninthoinganba Meetei was brought on and skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam was given his marching orders for two yellow cards within fifteen minutes.

Mohun Bagan looked listless and could not go anywhere near the opposition box to put them in danger. Second half substitute Manandeep Singh’s freak bicycle kick outside the box landed his studs on young Asish Rai and the fullback had to be taken off to the hospital as the Indian Arrows bench feared a concussion.

As the Arrows held on the scoreline, Mohun Bagan now come up to the third spot with ten points from six games while the youngsters rise to the sixth position with seven points from as many games. The Mariners next face Chennai City at home on 2nd January 2018 while the Arrows host East Bengal on the same day in New Delhi.

I-League 2017/18: Bagan Gear Up For First-Ever I-League Fixture At Kolkata Maidan

KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan host Indian Arrows in what will be a historic first ever I-League match at their own home ground on Friday. Meanwhile, this is going to be the youngsters’ first visit to the city which is termed as the Mecca of Indian Football after their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign.

The Green and Maroons will be looking to shrug off their mid-table blues and will be relying on the support of their faithful present at the club grounds, attendance expected to breach the 15,000 mark.

Though the Kolkata giants have remained unbeaten this season so far, three draws with only two victories have seen them slip to the fifth spot on the 2017/18 I-League table. The latest results at home, a 1-1 draw with Shillong Lajong and a goalless stalemate against newly promoted NEROCA FC have made the fans restless coupled with arch-rivals East Bengal now perched on top of the standings.

“We play to win matches but is impossible to win all the games. Obviously will be eyeing full three points from tomorrow’s game. In the last match we created more chances but unfortunately could not convert. We have already lost too many points. Three draws are equivalent to defeats. We have dropped six points already. We cannot afford to lose any more points”, said head coach Sanjoy Sen on the eve of the game.

He also upped the young side, “Indian Arrows are a good side. They won their first game but lost in the next three matches. They successfully came back against Lajong and showed everybody they are a good side. We have to be cautious against them. When a team play together for a long time and train under a good coach, they obviously become an organised outfit. The coordination is evident from their performances.”

He hoped that the fans will go back smiling after watching their football stars play in I-League at home for the first time. “We are playing a I-League match for the very first time at our own ground. The perfect way to commemorate this occasion is by winning the match.”

While Sony Norde and Arijit Bagui are ruled out, Eze Kingsley makes his comeback after a one-game suspension. Azharuddin Mallick could get his first start of the season in the left wing position.

On the flip side, Indian Arrows arrive after thrashing Shillong Lajong 3-0 on Boxing Day and the confidence was sky high.

“I am very much excited to come here to the ‘City of Joy’ for the first time and I have been told the passion here for the game is at a different level. With East Bengal, Mohun Bagan are the front runners to win or at least finish in a top-four place in this competition. They are experienced side and there is a lot of public support with the team that is important”, Matos pointed out.

“When I-League started, the clubs looked at us as outsiders but now they are taking it seriously. We are motivated to play against Mohun Bagan. All my players talk about Kolkata and they will try to win the game. It is a historic team in India and we await a lot of difficulties put in front of us tomorrow,” gaffer Matos added.

On playing in front of a large crowd all rooting against them, the former SL Benfica ‘B’ man did not read too negatively into that. “In the World Cup, the boys played in front of 50000 people but that was for us. Tomorrow will be completely different. They will have to cope otherwise how will they learn? I hope that motivates them more to do well. Earlier this year we played in Saudi Arabia where 10-15000 people were against us and we started the game well. These are the kinds of situations they need to tackle if they have to play top football in Asia and this is a lesson for the boys. I am very excited to play in front of 20000 people”, he said.

“It is not impossible to fight for final four and we would not like to finish last as we have to fight for pride but what our target is the experience after the I-League gets over – that is the most important bit to me. Six goals in five games mean we have done well and it is a team of all Indians that too 16 to 18 year-olds”, he commented on his side’s ultimate aspirations.

I-League 2017/18: Rafique’s goal send East Bengal atop

KOLKATA: East Bengal defeated ten men Gokulam Kerala FC 1-0 to go top of the 2017/18 I-League table at the Yuvabharati Krirangan on Wednesday.

A 44th-minute goal scored by Mohammed Rafique was enough to salvage all three points for the Kolkata giants to leapfrog Minerva Punjab FC at the table summit.

Both sides made the solitary change after their away wins respectively. Mohammed Rafique was brought in for Lalramchullova by Khalid Jamil while Stephane Kamo Bayi was passed fit for Gokulam Kerala FC as Usman Ashik was left out of the eleven.

The Calicut-based side had an early setback as their midfield general Khaled Alsaleh had to be taken off in the tenth minute owing to an injury. However, it was the hosts who had the first sniff on goal.

Katsumi Yusa’s flag kick in the fourteenth minute was punched out by goalkeeper Bilal Khan but Mohammed Rafique’s audacious chip almost went inside the net but the custodian did well to leap back and parry the ball out.

Three minutes later, substitute Francis Ambane launched an audacious freekick from range beating Luis Barreto but he only hit the crossbar.

Stephane Kamo Bayi had a chance from the edge of the box as he rounded up Eduardo Ferreira but his dangerous shot was off target.

While Francis Ambane and Arjun Jayaraj marshalled the Gokulam troops in midfield, Jamil’s side had little opportunities. The Cameroonian Ambane even hit the side-netting from a freekick in the 38th minute.

However, it was the Red and Golds who broke the deadlock a minute away from the halftime whistle. Santu Singh conceded a corner kick that Mahmoud Al Amna sent in. Vicky Meitei cleared it but Rafique who was just outside the box chested it down and hit home from the bounce, giving Jamil some solace heading into the halftime break.

Kamo Bayi had to be brought off after the break for an injury but Rohit Mirza’s off-the-ball rash challenge on Katsumi Yusa rendered the visitors a man down in the 54th minute. The Red and Golds could not take advantage of the extra man as they seldom put the Gokulam defence in danger.

However, Charles De Souza came close near the hour mark and Willis Plaza once again was left without any support. Emmanuel Chigozie was shown a yellow card for handling the ball albeit outside the box.

The tempo slowed down and East Bengal held onto the slightest of leads to surge to the top of the table as they now pay a visit to NEROCA FC on 30th January. Bino George’s side remained at the eighth spot and face Aizawl FC at home on New Year’s Eve.

I-League 2017/18: Aizawl FC stun Minerva Punjab 2-1

AIZAWL: Late goals from Kareem Omolaja Nurian and Andrei Ionescu were enough for Aizawl FC to beat Minerva Punjab FC 2-1 in an I-League 2017/18 clash at the Rajiv Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Wednesday.

In the wake of the hard fought win, the defending champions have now collected 7 points from 4 outings, with victory moving the Paulo Menezes-coached side up to sixth spot on the league table.

On the other hand, Minerva, who suffered their first defeat in I-League, did remain on top of standings but should East Bengal beat Gokulam Kerala FC later in the day, they would found themselves on second spot.

The game lacked any real rhythm in the opening exchanges with both sides guilty of squandering possession too easily, in what was a cagey and somewhat frustrating start to the game.

Aizawl, though, looked the more likely to open the scoring and almost did so in the 8th minute when Leonce Dodoz forced his way through on the left side of the box only to shot into a defender.

Meanwhile, Minerva had their first chance of the encounter with 16 minutes on the clock when some good work by William Opoku Asiedu and Chencho Gyeltshen tee up Bali Gagandeep whose effort whistled wide of goal.

Five minutes later, Masih Saighani thought he pulled Aizawl ahead as the Afghan defender slammed the back of the net from David Lalrinmuana’s free-kick, although his effort was ruled out for offside.

Before the half hour, Aizawl had another chance when the enterprising Alfred Jaryan crossed from the right and Dodoz shot first time, but straight at Minerva keeper Rakshit Dagar.

Thereafter, neither side were able to create any further chances in the first-half with the score deadlocked 0-0 as the teams headed for the tunnel at the break.

The game followed a similar tempo following the interval with both teams reluctant to take a chance and throw numbers forward.

However, Aizawl, following a slow start, found their rhythm as the game crossed the hour mark with the pair of Alfred and Dodoz the main protagonists.

The duo linked up in the 64th minute as Dodoz guided his header from Alfred’s cross narrowly wide of goal.

Aizawl, thereafter, continued to boss possession, but were found wanting in the final third with Minerva pinned in their own half.

The hosts’ perseverance was finally rewarded with a goal from Kareem, as the defender scored against his former side from David’s free-kick in the 72nd minute.

Dodoz nearly doubled the lead for Aizawl four minutes later, but the former Mohammedan SC striker placed his attempt wide of the target.

Meanwhile, the visitors also pushed for the equalizer but in the process left a lots of gaps, which Aizawl exploited when Ionescu slotted from Dodoz’s pass to secure full three points for Aizawl.

Nonetheless, Minerva did manage to find a consolation goal in recognition of their efforts as substitute Girik Khosla slotted in stoppage time after a failed clearance by Kareem fell for the youngster.

I-League 2017/18: Aizawl FC aim to upset Minerva Punjab at home

AIZAWL: Aizawl FC will play their third home match of the season against league leaders Minerva Punjab FC at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl tomorrow. The reigning champions Aizawl FC had the last laugh last season in this tie, courtesy the own goal by Loveday.at

Minerva Punjab FC are coming to the tie from an unbeaten home run which has earned them 13 points from 5 matches.

Minerva Punjab FC coach Khogen Singh is well aware of their position in the league and he stressed on keeping the focus on the match but nothing else.

He opined, “We will try to continue this form until the end of the season. But our fixtures will be tougher as playing in away matches and I have experienced this as a player myself. Aizawl will be a tough opponent but i hope we can end the season in our current position.”

Minerva Punjab FC’s transition from relegation battlers to fighting for the championship is much help by the addition of forwarding Chencho Gyeltshen. The Bhutanese forward feels confident as he hopes to finish his first season in India with flying colours.

Chencho made the difference in their last match having scored the solitary goal of the match against Indian Arrows.

He stated, “It is my first season in India and it is quite different to Bhutan. I want to score as many goals possible and be the best player in the league. Lifting the Hero I-League with Minerva is my main aim and I hope we can achieve that as a team,”

Chencho is one of the best players in the league so far but Aizawl’s Portuguese coach Paulo Menezes said they will not man mark the forward.

“Man-marking is not my philosophy and we will not mark Chencho tomorrow as well. We will play as a team and I hope we can collect 3 points,” Menezes said.

The champions Aizawl FC were the battered side in their last tie at their fortress when they went down to their Northeastern rivals Shillong Lajong FC, thanks to the sole strike by Redeem Tlang.

Aizawl FC captain Alfred Jaryan feels that they are a different team as compared to last season title winning side.

“As compared to the last season, we are a completely peculiar side. The coach is different and our styles and tactics are also different. But there are still a lot of matches to be played and I hope we can finish the season in a good fashion,” he opined.

I-League 2017/18: Arrows blank 10-man Lajong to bounce back to winning ways

NEW DELHI: Indian Arrows blank Shillong Lajong FC 3-0 in an I-League 2017/18 encounter at Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday afternoon.

Jitendra Singh’s (19th) goal gave Arrows a 1-0 lead at interval, before second-half substitutes Nongdamba Naorem (86th) and Rahul Balan’s (90+1st) late goals secured full three points for Arrows. But it might well have been a different story had Lajong taken their chances, particularly in the first-half.

The win lifted Arrows to sixth place in the league table with 6 points from 5 matches, while Lajong remained on fourth position with 10 points from 7 games.

Arrows went into the match with Assistant Coach Flyod Pinto in charge while Head Coach Luis Norton de Matos is away on Christmas vacation.

The game started brightly with the visitors seeing little of the ball in the opening exchanges. Arrows looked dangerous when came forward, looking extremely fluid in their movement and especially when they attacked down the flanks, but they failed to make enough chances in front of goal as the final pass always lacked the necessary quality.

After a number of missed half chances, a perfect opportunity fell for Abhijit Sarkar in the 13th minute, but the midfielder missed from inside the area, after Jeakson Singh delivered a neat cross into his path.

Six minutes later, Arrows grabbed the lead when Jitendra found the back of the net from Rahim Ali’s pass to give the hosts a well deserved lead.

Arrows, who came into the match on the back of three successive defeats, could not have asked for a better start.

The visitors, though, went in immediate search of parity with Abdoulaye Koffi and Abdullah Al Hagri forcing Arrows custodian Dheeraj Singh into successive saves at the other end of the pitch.

However, it was Arrows who went closest to the next goal with Rahim squandering a golden chance to double the hosts’ lead. The striker denied by Lajong keeper Phurba Tempa Lachenpa who made a brilliant save.

Late in the first-half, Lajong came close to pulling level when Koffi got on the end of a pin-point cross by Samuel Lalmuanpuia, but his resulting header went wide of the target following a period of sustained pressure.

Arrows did just about enough to hold a 1-0 lead at the break.

The hosts began the second half brightly like they did the first, with a goal beckoning from every move.

With Arrows pushing for a second goal, skipper Amarjit Singh came close to finding the back of the net, but his attempt failed to hit the target in the 54th minute.

Eager not to lose two games in succession, Lajong tried to push men forward in search for the equalizer, but passing in the final third was poor and chances on goal were hard to come by.

Lajong pushed the self destruct button in the 61st minute when substitute Lalrohlua received his marching orders for a needless challenge on Ninthoinganba Meetei.

Arrows used their extra man to good advantage with waves of attacks being launched at Phurba Tempa Lachenpa’s goal.

With Arrows piling on the pressure and using their extra man to their benefit, it was obvious that Lajong would struggle to hold out the tide of blue jerseys that were swamping their penalty area.

Naorem dribbled his way past five Lajong defenders before finishing off the move with a brilliant strike into the bottom right to make it 2-0 in the 86th minute.

Then Rahul rounded off the scoring in stoppage time from Rahim’s pass.

I-League 2017/18: Gokulam unperturbed by East Bengal’s form

KOLKATA: East Bengal will look to continue their winning streak in the I-League 2017/18 when they host debutantes Gokulam Kerala FC at Vivekananda Yubabharati Krirangan on Wednesday.

The Kolkata giants, who are on second place in standings with 10 points from five matches, racked up a third successive win when they defeated Chennai City FC 2-1 away last week, and will be eager to log their fourth straight win of the campaign which could send them to the summit of I-League, should leaders Minerva Punjab lose to Aizawl FC in a fixture which would be played earlier in the day.

However, East Bengal Head Coach Khalid Jamil has warned that his players should not get carried away, but they must stay focused and hungry.

“The victory against  Chennai City FC was good but we now need to focus on the game at hand and make sure that we win,” said Jamil.

“I have told my players that our previous victory means nothing if we don’t win tomorrow. We have been working hard in the past few days. The morale of the players is high and I am confident that they will play to win.”

“Gokulam will be a difficult team to beat as they are a very hardworking team. But I do not wish to look at the opponent and focus more on our own objective that is to win every match.” Jamil added.

Gokulam, on the other hand, started to gain some sort of momentum following a slow start to the campaign. Daniel Addo and Khaled Alsaleh scored to lead the Malabar outfit to a 2-0 win over Indian Arrows in New Delhi last week, which was their first win of the league.

Head Coach Bino George will be hoping that the victory provides the necessary spark his team need as they aim to continue their trek up the log standings.

George has said the fighting spirit from his team gives him confidence that they can get a positive result against their more fancied opponents.

“We have had good performance in our last match and the players are all showing good commitment,” added George.

About opponents, George answered: “We are aware of East Bengal’s form in the league and they have been doing well but are not scared of them. They are a big team and have good players, but we are ready for them. It will be tough game but we have to fight hard. Anything is possible in football.”

George knows that his defense comprising Daniel Addo, Emmanuel Chigozie, Provat Lakra and Santu Singh need to be at their best to stop East Bengal attackers.

A subplot for this fixture features East Bengal’s Bazie Armand and Gokulam’s Bayi Kamo Stephane, as two brothers will face each other for family bragging rights.

I-League 2017/18: Arrows, Lajong look to bounce back

Shillong: The All India Football Federation’s developmental side, Indian Arrows will host Shillong Lajong FC in an I-League encounter on 26th December at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi.

Shillong Lajong will be heading into tomorrow’s clash after suffering their first home defeat against Neroca FC. The Reds were dominant especially in the second half and had many chances but in the end, the Orange Brigade were lucky to convert from their chance and took away the three points.

Unfortunately for Lajong, they have dropped to 4th position in the standings with 10 points from three wins and one draw.

The Reds are staying positive and are hopeful of getting back to winning ways on Tuesday when they face off Luis Norton’s troops and better their position in the league.

Shillong Lajong Head Coach Bobby Nongbet said, “Our boys are set and ready for the game. We are equally a young side in the league. It will be an interesting match and we need 3 points and will try out best to get it.”

“Indian Arrows is a young, fast and a very good side. We will not underestimate them of their past outings. Our boys will go all out and give 100 percent”, Bobby added.

The Indian Arrows is currently in the 9th position in the I-League standings with three points. They began their campaign on a winning note against Chennai City but since then they have gone down, encountering three back to back losses against Minerva Punjab (Twice) and Gokulam Kerala. Also, the Arrows haven’t been able to score in their last three matches despite winning their first by three goals to nil.

Most of players in the squad were part of the FIFA U-17 World Cup team that represented the country and are a talented bunch. A mix of both one of the best Under 17 and Under 19 players in the country makes this team very competitive in the I-League.