NEW DELHI: Before the Hero I-League went to a break owing to the back-to-back international matches against IR Iran and Turkmenistan, game week 13 had its fair share of shock-and-awe moments when DSK Shivajians humbled Sporting Clube de Goa in Pune and Mohun Bagan continued to showcase their swashbuckling brand of football in their quest for the second consecutive Hero I-League.
Coming from a 10-day break, Aizawl FC hosted Kingfisher East Bengal who were desperately looking for an elusive win after two back-to-back losses on the road. Brandon Vanlalkima smacked the back of the net for the hosts just before the 20th minute, having left Kingfisher East Bengal goalie Rehenesh TP aghast. Immediately after conceding the goal, Biswajit Bhattacharya opted to introduce Cavin Lobo at the expense of Mehtab Hossain. Before the hour-mark, the 5,800 strong crowd went berserk when Yuta Kinowaki doubled their lead from inside the box. In the 70th minute, a terrible mistake by Emmanuel Ugochukwu Chigozie inside the box earned his first booking of the season and Ranti Martins curled nicely to halve the home team’s lead. After two minutes, Emmanuel went for another rash challenge which earned him the marching order leaving his team one man down against the vicious Kingfisher East Bengal. The Red & Golds attackers, well led by Ranti Martins, flooded the Aizawl FC box with myriads of attacking moves and finally, they got the equaliser five minutes to the full time when the lanky Nigerian striker converted a long ball unleashed by Bikash Jairu, who came off the bench in the place of Syhlo Malswamtulunga at the stroke of the hour. Three minutes later, Abinash Ruidas ran down the left flank and released a brutal pass which was converted calmly by Ranti Martins to put his team in the driving seat for the first time in three matches. Meanwhile, it was Ranti Martins’ second hat trick in the ongoing Hero I-league and he is now leading the race with eleven goals from as many games. The Kolkata outfit eventually sealed their sixth win of the I-League keeping their title hope alive. On the resumption of the Hero I-League, they are slated to face their arch rivals Mohun Bagan in Siliguri on 2nd April.
Without the services of the prolific striker Darryl Duffy and Seityasen Singh, Santosh Kashyap had a high mountain to climb against Shillong Lajong. After an edgy start, Salgaocar FC slowly crawled back into the game and after the half-an-hour mark, Gilbert Oliviera scored a peach of a goal. After the breather, Thangboi Singto deployed Boithang Haokip to find the much-needed equaliser but they failed to percolate the resolute Salgaocar FC defence. Despite raising the game, the Reds were thwarted time and again by the Greens till the final whistle who eventually signed off with their second win in three matches.
DSK Shivajians, still basking in the glory of their famous win against Kingfisher East Bengal in the previous game week, threw in their hat into the ring against Sporting Clube de Goa. Derrick Pereira started with Cameroonian striker Aser Pierric Dipanda, Douhou Pierre and Baljit Sahni at the up front. In the 13th minute, Dica rattled the roof of the net from a cross by Juan Quero Barraso. Seven minutes later, Dipanda Dica outran the listless Sporting Goa defenders and unleashed a loopy ball to Douhou Pierre who doubled the lead from a brutal header. Sporting players’ every single effort was going haywire and DSK Shivajians’ attackers tripled their lead after the half-an-hour mark as Douhou Pierre netted his brace. Having almost secured another win ahead of the home fans at the end of the first half, Derrick Periera preferred to hold the possession and frustrate the Oranje in the later stage of the match. In the 73rd minute, defender Subhasish Bose netted a consolation goal from a well-taken corner by Rowllin Borges but it couldn’t spoil the Pune club’s party before the league goes on a two-week break.
Back in Kolkata, Mohun Bagan locked their horns with Mumbai FC, who approached the game following seven winless matches n the ongoing Hero I-League. Mohun Bagan think tank opted to start without regular skipper Katsumi Yusa to make way for the youngster Manish Bhargav who filled in the shoes and came very close to scoring his maiden Hero I-League goal for Mohun Bagan within first ten minutes and then on the half-an-hour mark, Katsumi Yusa was introduced to provide more vitality in the attacking third and the Japanese playmaker found the back of the net within five minutes of joining the fray. From a pass by Jeje Lalpekhlua in the 29th minute, Katsumi heaved it home to find the far end corner of the net. Mumbai FC, being outplayed in every single department, adapted a physical game which earned them not less than three cautions in the first half. Khalid Jamil switched Pratik Chowdhury for veteran striker Sushil Singh in the second half but the ex-national striker failed to penetrate the Mariners’ defense. Albeit Mohun Bagan was looking like a well-oiled machine, the prolific striker Cornell Glen would like to forget this outing soon. He was looking completely off colour and finally the gaffer opted to withdraw him to introduce a fresh pair of legs in the likes of Souvik Chakraborty. Just after the hour-mark, the Haitian playmaker Sony Norde struck hard from 25 yards to send the 15 thousand odd spectators into delirium. Mumbai FC did all but failed to put any serious threat to the Mariners, who have now extended their unbeaten run in the Hero I-League to eleven matches.
Mohun Bagan, after their emphatic win over Mumbai FC, raised their tally to 25 points, three points more than Bengaluru FC. Kingfisher East Bengal, who are slated to face the Mariners on 2nd April, are third on the table with 20 points. Salgaocar FC and DSK Shivajians have come up the table following the inspiring wins against Shillong Lajong and Sporting Clube de Goa respectively and both the teams are tied with Mumbai FC in the middle of the table with 12 points. The debutants Aizawl FC, who have amassed 9 points so far, hit the rock bottom once again following their heart-rending loss to Kingfisher East Bengal.
– I-League Media