Wednesday, 2 March 2016

News Update: AIFF Elite Academy U18 wins IFA Shield

Brilliant performance from ‪#‎BlueColts‬ against Premier League youth dide. Blue Cubs were leading by 2-0 in first half but Crystal Palace came back strong in Second half and took match to penalties.

In penalties, Indian goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh made two amazing saves to win match for India .

AIFF Elite Academy U18 2(6)-2(5) Crystal Palace Football Club U19
Goal Scorers - Bodo, Prosenjit
Penalty Scorers - Anirudh Thapa, Jerry, Prosenjit, Bodo, Namgyal Bhutia, Surya Tirkey
‪#‎Indianfootball‬ ‪#‎IFAShield2016‬ ‪#‎BackTheBlue‬

Friday, 12 February 2016

Match Preview: Bengaluru FC vs Mohun Bagan AC

Start Time
1905 HRS

Form Guide

Mohun Bagan (most recent first): DWDWW
Bengaluru FC (most recent first): WLWLW

Mohun Bagan

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Kolkata transcends to the finals via penalty shootout

Kolkata walked straight through hell and was back unscarred. After an intense bout for 120 minutes, Kolkata made it to the finals when they flipped in all the penalties with clinical precision. Ere the inception of the match, Kolkata had two early wallops to brunt when Habas declared that marksman Fikru will be unavailable for the second leg of the semi-final as well. The second clout came down in the form of Jofre’s half fitness. Despite having a mental slowdown, Kolkata decided to fight back.

The hell we walked into and came back unscarred
As expected Goa started smiting from the very first whistle but the defence of Kolkata had other plans for their Goan counterparts. Habas started proceedings with three defenders in the form of Nato, Arnab and Josemi. This legerdemain started panning out in the exact way that Habas wanted.
The first opportunity fell for Goa when Mandar played an one-two with Santos to go past Nato but was refuted any chance to shoot straight into the goal as Borja bailed out Kolkata of the predicament, however Romeo Fernandes shot the rebound straight into the safe arms of Edel. Minutes later Kolkata was on a counter-attack which was foiled in the middle way itself by defensive medio of Goa, Narayan Das. After some mediocre football in the next 10 minutes, Goa was once again on the prow looking for danger, when Nato’s lose clearance fell in For Romeo whose shot flew wide off the first post. This shot evidenced a fully stretched Edel to avert any mire which could have even existed if the shot was on target. Ensuing this smite, Goa went all guns blazing when one after the other long balls of Amiri, Debabrata and Narayan was cleared from the brink of the penalty box. Josemi, Arnab and Nato stood tall with assistance from the veteran Borja Fernandez.

The counter attack that didn't find the net
Once again Kolkata was found making some counter-attack when skipper Garcia’s long cross fell in for Rafi who did a sublime job, setting it up for the careening Sanju Pradhan whose long ranger flew inches away of the post. In the dying embers of the first half, Goa got the best opportunity of the half when Slepicka got a loose ball after Nato failed to clear the ball completely. He had all the time in the world to convert into a netter but Edel’s brilliance refuted Slepicka of the glory. This save took its toll on Edel Bete as he pulled his hamstring. After this incident it was all Josemi who had to take the goal kicks for Edel.

Just after the lemon break, Goa almost accorded themselves the lead when Edel was gimping and was tardy enough to make it to the ball but just collected the ball in the nick of time leaving Slepicka as a mere onlooker. Habas had to make an impelled swap when Garcia was seen hobbling in the first half. He finally conscripted Jofre Mateu in the bout in stead of Garcia.

Things seemed to exacerbate for Kolkata when Goa once again went all guns blazing in the second half. They had their shares of award as well. One after other, chances started to fall for Goa. Amiri’s through found Mandar on the left plank, who in cursory, shot it wide. Minutes later Romeo’s aesthetic through pass spotted Santos in the penalty box who did it exceptionally well to cut in and dodge two defenders of Kolkata, but in the end was refuted of glory by the robust Edel.

However Goa seemed to be deadbeat slowly with every second that elapsed. In the meantime, all of a sudden, preceptor of Kolkata, Antonio Lopez Habas fell ill and was seen to be given medical attention in the stands. Later he claimed that it was anxiety of the match that caused him the malaise.
Slowly Kolkata started bolstering their talons on the match. Goa did run well with the ball but had no chances for themselves in the dying minutes. Instead Kolkata notched up a few free kicks and corners. The first 90 minutes saw no more action as it petered out to an impasse.

The next half hour was equally nondescript and humdrum. Kolkata stood tall in the defence. Kingshuk Debnath, who played with all heart and tremendous volition. He suffered a head injury earlier in the match when Andre Santos rammed straight into him. The scathe had no impact on his game, as with every second that snaked away he simply looked better and better. On the stroke of the 112th minute Goa did get tad of a chance when Santos passed a good ball to Tolgay, who after dealing with much difficulty shot it into Apoula Edel. Edel, despite enduring the pangs of his earlier hamstring pull, took every welt that came his way.

Habas needs a singular mention because he showed it to the world that matches can be also won with defence. After being at the receiving end for so long, with so many injuries and with constrained substitutions, he still did not give in to the talons of pressure. Goa was trounced by his stratagem. All of his ruses were perfectly toted out by the players of Kolkata.

When the final whistle after 120 minutes blew, Habas seemed to be reprieved a little. On the contrary that was the outset of the real tension. Whenever the chase cuts down to penalties, it is all upon a wee hap and a wee keeping of one’s equanimity that constitutes to the decisive factor.

Speaking blatantly, Kolkata did not have two of their main penalty shooters as Fikru was ousted even ere the game began and Garcia pulled his hamstring while the match was afoot. With the stakes amassing against Kolkata, they went in to the shootout.

Santos was scratchy throughout the night as he even failed to convert from the spot
The FC Goa marksman, Andre Santos made things elusive for Goa when he shot the first penalty wide off the woodwork. It was Josemi who drew first blood in the tie-breaker who’s calmly placed shot, albeit had a wee abut form Jan Seda, rolled on to the net imparting Kolkata the lead. It was Tolgay who came in to take the next penalty and flipped it in with ease when Edel dived in the complete opposite direction. Rafi came up to take the next spot-kick for ATK and scored with ease. With a scoreline of 2-1 in their favour, Kolkata needed to keep their calm to advance into the next round. Amiri made things easier for Kolkata when he shot his kick straight into the woodwork despite Edel going in the wrong direction. Once again for ATK, Jofre calmly eased past Seda his penalty. Now with a must convert penalty to take, veteran Indian midfielder Clifford Miranda stepped up to the task and acquitted himself well of it by scoring to keep dim hopes for Goa alive. Borja Fernandes who begot such a stellar fare in the match earlier, made no mistake in scoring form the spot and took Kolkata into the final of the first edition of Indian Super League.

Mohammed Rafi took the all important second penalty for Atletico de Kolkata and converted it to put the pressure on Goa
Throughout the 120 minutes Kolkata validated their mettle and stood tall in the defence. Josemi, Kingshuk, Borja, Arnab, Nato and Edel needs special mention who squeezed their hearts out in the centre of the pitch to usher Kolkata to victory. Habas also deserves plaudits who despite a sudden illness and having so many scathes in the teamlist kept Kolkata in the hunt and finally circumvented Zico with sheer strategy. Now all eyes will be on the DY Patil Stadium as Atletico de Kolkata will square off with Kerala Blasters in the final of the tournament on 20th December, 2014. Till then cheer.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Defensive Kolkata stands tall to accord Goa an inch

After an exciting first leg of the semi-final betwixt Chennai and Kerala, the first leg of the ensuing semis between Kolkata and Goa fizzled out to a goalless draw. Both the teams played a conservative game.

Kolkata made four impelled changes to the side which started in the preceeding vie. Sanju, Garcia, Lester and Masih made it to the starting eleven. Goa almost swapped in their entire team from the one that played in the last match with ATK.

The match started off with both the teams playing to keep their defence intact. Habas tasked Josemi with the onus of marking the Goan marksman, Miroslav Slepicka right from the very outset, which was successfully done by Josemi with tantamount flair. The first chance, albeit not so facile, fell in for ATK when skipper Garcia flipped in a through ball for the sprinting Podany who frittered away the opportunity shooting straight into the robust physique of Arnalin.

Goa came back strongly in the game as Andre Santos tried to spawn a chance for the darting Mandar, but the through never made it to Mandar when an indefatigible Kingshuk waylaid and cleared it. The next attack came within a matter of minutes when Romeo Fernandes set up a ball for Santos, whose shot was blocked with equal tenacity by Borja. For a few minutes Goa wanted to decimate the ATK defence completely, keeping in mind that they missed the services of Arnab Mondal. However Kolkata seemed to possess other plans for their Goan counterparts. The defence of ATK for the night seemed airtight.

After failing to crack the defence with small passes or derby run down the wings, Goa was constrained to take long rangers to test Edel, where the latter stood tall, not even looking restive for a while. Romeo Fernandes spawned a stupendous opportunity for himself after he snaked past Nato but was refuted to get his name on the scoresheet when Edel made an equally adulating save.

The dying embers of the first half saw some reprisal from the home side. Lester waylaid a pass of Arnolin and set it up for Garcia whose shot was refuted by Jan Seda. Minutes later Sanju’s long ranger flew wide off the post. In the last minute of the first half when Garcia’s shot ricocheted of Bengelloun and fell in for Borja, he skied it.

After the lemon-break there was not much change to the scenario of the game. The initial minutes of the second half evidenced a belligerent Goa when Santos was again denied a through by the incisiveness of Josemi. Slepicka got a loose ball for himself in the penalty box when both Kingshuk and Masih misjudged the flight of the ball, but Kingshuk was trenchant enough to recoup the ball and clear it off the park.

Moments later Slepicka received another aesthetic through ball from Santos but shot it straight into the arms of Edel. The best chance of the game and the second half fell in for Goa when Peter Carvalho’s long probing cross fell in for Romeo Fernandes who did nothing better to touch the ball once and squandered it to a bumptiously charging Edel.

Once again in the dying minutes of the game Kolkata started to put up some talion. Lester Fernandez was brilliant throughout the game as he made surfeit run down the right wing consorted with some help from Sanju. Not only did he made stellar interceptions but concurrently ran from one end to other with the ball beating the speed of Bikramjit and Amiri every single time. Lester’s probing cross did find red and white shirts in the box who slumped to the superior Gregory Arnolin.

Podany was also stupendous in the left wing. Every single time he had the ball under control, Goa defence did chicken out, but his crosses were made nugatory as no Kolkata players did show the guts to dare into the Goa defence.

Kolkata held a robust defence line. Thanks to Borja, Josemi and Kingshuk who put everything on the line to thwart the Goan rage. With Fikru, Jofre and Baljit returning for the next leg of the semi-final, it will be intriguing to watch how Atletico de Kolkata fights back against a full-fledged FC Goa. Till then, adios. #Fatafatifootball

Friday, 12 December 2014

It is a vie of giants and giant killers

Yubabharati Krirangan is all set to host the first leg of the second semi-final betwixt Atletico de Kolkata and FC Goa. Kolkata aced the table for more than 70% of the league, however in the end was in dire straits, when lady luck finally smiled on them, according them a penalty in the final match that helped them to trundle into the next round.

Kolkata is a team whose best weapon in the arsenal is its defence. The duo of Josemi and Arnab has been too tough to break in most of the matches. However the scenario of the semifinal is totally discrepant. After Arnab scathed his ankle in the last match, it will all boil down to the vanguard of the defence for Kolkata, Josemi. Complementing him in the defence will be Nalappan Mohanraj, who had done a pretty sublime job in the bygone matches, Kingshuk Debnath, who has been wee shoddy in few occasions, but has managed to tote out his cameo in most of the cases. Habas will be in a quandary about whether or not to field Saha, who has been quite sturdy in the defence but is suffering from an injury. Goa has the likes of Slepicka, Tolgay and Santos, who can single handedly exterminate the opponent’s defence on any given day. A partially fit player can be quite a risk to take, keeping in mind that there is still one more leg of semi-final to play. On the contrary trying to stymie Goa with a three man defence is not too savvy either. So as a final resort Kolkata may tend to start with the former Monaco centre-back, Sylvain Monsreau.

Stacking up the ISL Semifinalists
Raving about the midfield, it is quite an uphill task for one to prognosticate the midline of Kolkata. With half of the defence already down with injuries, Habas will possibly kick off proceedings with an ultra-defensive midfield. Chances are high that Nato, Borja and Masih will be the starters laced with Podany who has been quite a hit in the preceeding match. Now if the coach tends to smite from the very outset which is most likely not going to transpire, he may start with Lester Fernandez or the local lad, Cavin Lobo. However the best midfield blend can be a three attacker midfield. With Nato operating from a little below, the line of Borja, Garcia, Podany and Lobo can be internecine for the visitors. Jofre albeit being fit, is most possibly to come in the second half for no one would like to see him miss the next leg.

A myriad of permutations and combinations will still fail to give all possible combinations in the midfield of Kolkata. The best resolve to thwart the raging Goa midfield will be to put back speed against them. Afterall attack is the best defence, they say. The strike line of Kolkata is not something that one would like to vaunt about. Fikru Teferra has been the sole striker in most of the matches. He is quite deft at receiving, passing and a crème-de-la-crème at spawning chances for others. However his individual finishing has been pretty noxious. He has frittered away such facile opportunities which are actually harder to miss than to score. So that intensifies the fret of the Kolkata preceptor. With Baljit Sahni already out of the first leg due to a booking in the last vie, it would be an epic task for Fikru to fare. Mohammed Rafi may be appendaged with him who has been more of a liability than an asset to the team. With Jan Seda under the Goan post, things would become a million times more elusive than it was in the last match. Llibert may come out later in the match, if Habas wants to fire on all cylinders.

Finally harping on about the custodian is going to be a tough pick for the preceptor. Apoula Edel Bete, the Armenian goalkeeper has put his everything on the line and bailed Kolkata out of sheer quagmires. However the past two matches were not too good for him. In the match against Mumbai City FC, if he would have charged, Friedrich could have never made it to the ball. In the ensuing match with Goa, he simply misjudged the ball and ended up being scored against. This gives an edge to the local lad, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, who was once in the hunt for the golden gloves with 4 clean sheets. He has an aquiline reflex and has been quite acrobatic except one occasion where he gave an easy opportunity to the opponent to score. It all boils down to Habas to make the final choice.

Summing up the game in a run-down, it is going to be a fray of wits. The team that will keep its equanimity, will surpass the other. It is going to be a bout of Arnolin and Bengelloun’s stentorian power against an equally bumptious Fikru Teffera. It is going to be the speed of Romeo Fernandes pitted against the creativity of Luis Garcia. It is going to be the adroit Slepicka pitted against the forever calm Josemi. Finally it is going to be the bout of vulpine Zico against a dicey Habas. Atop all it is going to be a clash of the titans.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Kolkata goes hammer and tongs over Goa to march into final four

The penultimate match of the league stage was set to have all the excitement as both the teams had many things on stake. A win or a draw for Atletico de Kolkata would see them through to the semis whereas a loss would mean the curtains down after their domination at the top of the table throughout the first leg. A win for FC Goa would have meant that they go into the final four as the top team from the group. 

Children along with their parents, football crazy fans and young ladies thronged the stadium to support the home side
Beyond all expectations, Kolkata fielded an eleven without their captain and marquee player Luis Garcia; on the other hand, Goa fielded a second string side, probably to test their bench strength. The 37000 crowd of Vivekananda Yuba Bharti Krirangan were at their feet as the home side went hammer and tongs from the word go. 
Edgar Marcelino gave the visitors 1-0 lead in the 27th minute
However, against the run of play, Edgar Marcelino fired a shot into the top of the net as the custodian of Kolkata, Edel Bete had no clue and it gave the visiting side 1-0 lead. Kolkata were not dented by the early goal against them as they kept on attacking the Goan defence, without any success. Eventually the half time whistle was blown the referee and the live league table showed Kolkata being knocked out and Delhi qualifying for the semis.

The home side went on to do two substitutions at the start of the second half as they substituted their central defensive midfield pillar, Ofentse Nato to bring their playmaker Luis Garcia and a forced one in the form of Nallappan Mohanraj to replace the bruised Biswajit Saha. The effects were immediately seen as Kolkata increased their force in the attacking third, but were just unlucky as they couldn't find the net.

The home crowd were lucky enough to see the somersault
However luck came in the form of a penalty as Bruno Pinheiro fouled Fikru Teferra in the penalty box and the referee did not hesitate to send him off. Fikru converted from the spot in the 68th minute to level the score 1-1. 10 men-Goa could not get any further advantage as Kolkata controlled the flow of play from there on to hold the 1-1 lead and qualify for the semifinals.

Fikru was awarded the Hero of the Match and Baljit Sahni received the Emerging Player of the Match award. Atletico de Kolkata next face FC Goa in the First Leg of the Second Semifinal on December 14, 2014 at the Yuba Bharti Krirangan in Kolkata. We wish them all the best from our side.