The 10th season of Indian Super League got underway last Thursday and with the completion of the first matchweek, the top division of Indian football is back with a bang.
With the contest between Hyderabad FC and FC Goa being postponed to accommodate India’s participation in the Asian Games, fans witnessed fireworks in Kochi, thunder and lightning in Bhubaneshwar, late night in Kolkata, nail-biter in Guwahati and a snoozefest in Kolkata again.
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A Look At The Results From Matchweek 1 –
Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC: Rivalry Renewed
Rivalries between the sides and fans aside, the game lived up to the hype of being the season opener as the atmosphere at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi was a sight to behold. A wall of yellow chanting and singing through the 90 minutes egged the players on as Adrian Luna starred with contributions in both goals, scoring one and taking the corner for the other, to help the home side to a 2-1 victory. Bengaluru’s Keziah Veendorp headed the first in his own net as a mistake from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu led the second. Curtis Main tapped in a ball beautifully worked by young Monirul Molla to get one back for BFC. What made headlines though was Ryan Williams allegedly racially abusing Aiban Dohling with Kerala Blasters registering an official complaint against Bengaluru FC.
With Ivan Vukomanovic still serving out his ban for pulling his team off the pitch in the last season, against the same opponent, assistant coach Frank Dauwen took charge. After the end of the match. He was happy with his team’s performance, despite a few issues, but pointed out, “But the first game is important and the only thing that counts is the three points.”
Odisha FC vs Chennaiyin FC: Thunder and Lightning
Rain halted proceedings at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar as thunder and lightning threatened to bring curtains down on the encounter. The match was stopped and started after the danger was averted. Chennaiyin had no such luck. Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Diego Mauricio rained down to score on either side of halftime to hand the Juggernauts a comfortable 2-0 win. Odisha FC looked well-oiled and trained under new coach Sergio Lobera and his distinctive possession football was on apparent show. Chennaiyin chased shadows for most parts of the night as only Lazar Cirkovic and Connor Shields looked promising but missed chances in front of goal haunted the away side.
Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle was disappointed with the result but not with the side’s performance. “All credit to Odisha FC, they took their chances. To be honest, we’ve not got the points that our performance deserved, that is for sure. It’s Odisha FC’s night, good luck to them. After 22 games we’ll see where everybody is,” he said.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant vs Punjab FC: Perfect Debuts
A delayed end in the first game of the doubleheader meant a delayed start at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata but it was a perfect start for the home side. Mohun Bagan SG had four debuts for them in the Indian Super League and all played their part perfectly. Jason Cummings scored as Sahal Abdul Samad assisted. Even though they conceded a goal, with Luka Majcen reacting to a poor back pass and becoming the first to score for a promoted side in the ISL, Hector Yuste and Anwar Ali looked comfortable at the back. Last season’s hero Dimitri Petratos as well as Manvir Singh scored too to hand the Mariners a 3-1 win over the debutants.
Punjab FC, playing their first ISL game, looked outplayed against the defending ISL Cup winners but head coach Staikos Vergetis said he believes in his players: “We played our first game. My players were a bit stressed, and some individual mistakes brought us back to zero.”
NorthEast United vs Mumbai City FC: Promises and Hits
Season after season, NorthEast United have only promised to disappoint. That may change, at least that’s the promise. The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati saw the lowest turnout from fans till now this season but the Highlanders looked entertaining. Parthib Gogoi’s strike was sandwiched between twin strikes from Jorge Pereyra Diaz as the Islanders got a hard-fought 2-1 win. The winger showcased some fine footwork to cut in and shoot from the long-range that took keeper Mohammad Nawaz by surprise. Mumbai City, on the other hand, had their frontline functioning in tandem straight from kick-off. Changes are never easy.
Des Buckingham though was counting himself and his team lucky. “I think when we look back at this (result) later on in the season, we will realise how important these three points are or will be,” he said.
East Bengal vs Jamshedpur FC: Comedy of Errors
Both teams showed unfulfilled potential as neither of the two teams could find the breakthrough in an otherwise end-to-end 0-0 contest at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. East Bengal looked like converting on their many chances throughout the game but TP Rehenesh thwarted their every attempt. Early in the second half, there was handball from Pratik Chaudhari inside the penalty box that East Bengal players vehemently appealed for but the referee did not see. In the closing minutes, Saul Crespo pushed Emil Benny to the ground as a scuffle ensued between the teams. The referee did manage to get things under control and showed a direct red to the Jamshedpur player and a yellow card to Crespo. Emil had almost down the tunnel when the referee receded his decision and called Emil back and showed him a yellow.
EBFC head coach Carles Cuadrat said that he was not happy but wasn’t too disappointed by the dropped points. “These things happen in football. You have to be there, in that situation. Things happen very fast. A lot of times it’s only some millimetres, centimetres that do not let you score,” he said.