Category: I-League

I-League 2018/19: Lajong and Neroca are all set for a high-octane Northeastern battle

Shillong, 1st December 2018: The 32nd game of the Hero I-League is all set for a super Sunday clash between two northeastern powerhouses of football, Shillong Lajong FC and Neroca FC from Manipur. Both Shillong Lajong and Neroca FC have won just one game so far in this season and this game would be of paramount importance for both the teams for their journey ahead in the league.

The game is scheduled to start from 5 PM at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, Shillong, tomorrow 2nd December 2018.

Hosts Shillong Lajong are currently placed at the 10th place in the Hero I-League points table with Four Points to their kitty (1 win, 1 draw and 4 losses) from six games whereas their opponents Neroca FC have a slight advantage on the overall position on the points tally being placed 7th ( 1 Win, 2 Draws & 2 Losses) having played a game less compared to Lajong.

Shillong Lajong, so far, have played some entertaining football giving troubles to all their opponents, but unfortunately, they haven’t been able to find the back of the net more often. However, the positives from their attacking game have been that six different players have contributed to the 8 goals that they have scored so far from their six games.

Phrangki Buam and Naorem Singh are the only two to have scored a couple for Shillong Lajong and on their day, both of these players can be extremely lethal. However, a major concern for head coach Alison Kharsyntiew would be to organise his defence line which hasn’t been in great shape so far in this season. Defensive lapses have resulted in Lajong conceding 14 goals so far.

“The problem is that we have conceded 14 goals which were just because of silly mistakes. We have to work on those mistakes and we’re doing so. The boys have shown improvements and we’ll continue doing so,” said Alison Kharsyntiew’s, Head Coach, Shillong Lajong FC.

NEROCA FC who have travelled to Shillong at the back of a 2-1 loss to table-toppers Chennai City FC will be eager to add a second win to their kitty. Neroca who had a super run last season finishing second in the Hero I-League, have been a little lacklustre this season.

However, what is to be noticed that the visitors have conceded only 5 goals this season. Neroca FC this season haven’t been very lucky on the scoring front as well with just 4 goals from 5 games. Nigerian Felix Chidi with two goals to his kitty along with Eduardo and Subash Singh has a goal each to their names for the visiting team.

Neroca FC’s Head Coach Manuel Fraile would look at exploiting the weak defence line of Shillong Lajong and use his strike force to full in order to secure a win.

“To be honest, we, at this moment, are growing up as a team. We are working hard and the players need to enjoy football. We are positive about getting a win tomorrow and we just need to keep our focus throughout and execute the plans on the pitch,” said Fraile.

A win for either can help the teams climb up a few positions but a defeat for Neroca FC would trigger a steep fall on the points table.

I-League 2018/19: Mohun Bagan remain winless at home

KOLKATA: Sony Norde’s goal was cancelled out by Nestor Gordillo’s late strike as Mohun Bagan were held to a 1-1 draw by Chennai City FC in their 2018/19 I-League encounter on Saturday at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

On the balance of play, Mohun Bagan will feel they should have sneaked it as they dominated proceedings and created better goal-scoring chances in front of their home fans.

They will surely be kicking themselves for not burying numerous goal-scoring opportunities they created, especially in the opening stages of the encounter.

But in the end, the result was perhaps a fair reflection of the action on show. Both teams had periods of dominance and both had numerous scoring opportunities.

The game got off to a lively opening five minutes, with Mohun Bagan impressing with some neat football.

Sankarlal Chakraborty’s charges played with verve and used a short, sharp passing style to get beyond the Chennai City defense.

During one such attack, Sony created a moment of uncertainty in the Chennai City penalty area, but, fortunately, Chennai City defenders were able to clear the danger.

But once things settled down, both teams made sure they kept things tight and compact. Both defenses were organised and kept shape, and scoring chances were few and far between.

Nonetheless, Mohun Bagan gave a good account of themselves in the later stages of the first-half, and should have easily went into the half-time break two or three goals up.

Chennai City, on the other hand, sat back and tried to catch them on the counter, but in the end, both teams went into the break locked at 0-0.

The game burst into life after the interval. Chennai City goalkeeper Nauzet Santana was called into action in the first minute of the second-half and pulled off a stunning safe to deny Henry Kisekka.

Mariners were all over Chennai City and asking more and more questions. Santana produced another glorious save to keep Sankarlal Chakraboty’s charges at bay when he denied Pintu Mahata in a one-on-one inside the box, diving full length to stop the ball from going in.

But the pressure eventually told and Mohun Bagan stormed into the lead when Sony slotted from close range in the 50th minute after receiving the ball from midfield.

The setback served to awaken Chennai City from their slumber and they threw players forward with abandon, in search of an equalizer.

Alexander Jesuraj whipped a shot over the bar and Sandro Rodriguez was desperately unlucky when his goal-bound effort was blocked by the Mohun Bagan defense.

In the 74th minute substitute Ameerudeen Mohaideen was denied by the post on the left as hosts Mohun Bagan managed to hold on.

Again, though, the relentless pressure had an effect, and it was Nestor who got the all-important goal in the 81st minute to level the score for Chennai City.

Having scored, Chennai City showed more endeavour in attack and it took everything Mohun Bagan had left in their tank to deny the onslaught from Chennai City. Goalkeeper Sankar Roy also made a number of telling saves to a salvage a point for his side.

Following the draw, Chennai City continued to lead the log standings with 17 points from 7 matches while Mohun Bagan remain on fourth spot with 9 points from 6 matches.

I-League 2018/19: Njoku steals crucial victory for champions against Arrows

1st December, Panchkula: Match 30 of 2018/19 I-League saw defending champions Minerva Punjab FC defeat Indian Arrows by a solitary goal at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Panchkula. Philip Njoku of Minerva Punjab FC who scored the winning goal was adjudged the Hero of the match.

The game began with Minerva Punjab FC playing in white and blue while visitors Indian Arrows playing in orange. The young colts of the Arrows showed their intent right from the start pressing hard but the experience and greater physical strength of Minerva Punjab FC’s defensive line ensured that the Arrows could not create much of a threat inside the box.

Arrows, however, were the side with a higher possession but the young forward line wasn’t able to create any good clear opportunity throughout the first 45 minutes.

Both the teams had two shots each on the goal though the defending champions were the ones who had the closest chance at scoring when their Ghanian forward William Opoku failed to find the back of the net in the dying seconds of the first half.

After the break, Arrows’ first clear chance came in the 49th minute when Rahul KP took a deft attempt at the goal but Arshdeep made a valiant save to deny Indian Arrows a lead.

Indian Arrows breached the Minervan defence line a few times after that but weren’t successful in converting those chances.

Nigerian Philip Njoku had the cleanest chance to give Minerva Punjab FC the lead in the 59th minute but his outstretched hand on the face of Indian Arrows goalkeeper Prabhsukan Gill wasn’t overlooked by the referee to rule it a foul on the goalie. Even though the ball found the back of the net, it got cancelled because of the decision.

Rahul KP of Indian Arrows again missed a fine chance when his beautiful run beating Lancine Toure and Columbian Caicedo Rodriguez missed the goal from a handshaking distance in the 68th minute.

The Arrows looked a more composed and organized team today but their defence was breached in the 74th minute when Philip Njoku took an advantage of a muddle between Prabsukhan Gill and the fellow defender to poke the eventual winning goal for the hosts.

The game thereafter saw both teams making numerous attempts on either side but a lack of a good finishing move saw the game wrapping up 1-0 in the favour of the Punjab-based outfit.

I-League 2018/19: Minerva take aim at Arrows

Chandigarh, November 30, 2018: It has not been an ideal start to the I-League for defending champions Minerva FC, having won just one game in five to be placed eighth on the table. However, come Saturday, December 1, 2018, they will look to get back to winning ways against the young Indian Arrows side. The game kicks off at 2 PM IST at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula and what would enthuse the champions, even more, would be the fact that they would be playing at home after exactly a month.

The “Warriors” from Punjab have won both the encounters between the two sides so far and that would give new coach for the season, Irishman Paul Munster, a sense of ease. The Arrows coach Floyd Pinto, on the other hand, would be aware that his young side albeit have looked the part but would need to deliver results sooner rather than later if they want to finish anywhere near the top of the league table.

Munster would be happy with the fact that Ghanaian striker William Opoku, a key player for his side having scored five times for Minerva last season, finally opened his scoring account in the last game against Shillong. He would also be happy with the form of Nigerian midfielder Philip Njoku who has been playing with a lot of purpose and penetration in the last two games, as well as the fact that his team while playing the entire second half against Shillong with 10 men, never looked like doing so.

“We are happy to come back home. We have taken the positives from our last game. Our first half was really tough, but even after going down to 10 men, our boys recovered and scored. In my opinion, it’s a very big result, but now, it’s a must-win game for us tomorrow at home,” said Paul Munster, Head Coach, Minerva Punjab FC ahead of the game tomorrow.

“We are creating lots of chances. It’s just the strikers who should believe in themselves and converting those chances. We just have to work harder”, he added.

Minerva would want to have a re-look at their defensive tactics though, as besides conceding five goals, way too many for their style of play generally, they have been caught out on the break too many times.

For Floyd Pinto’s young guns it seems to be getting more difficult with every game. Against Kashmir, in the last game, they were outdone simply by the size of some of their opponents which included the 6ft 7 inches Krizo and similar bigger adversaries like Mason Robertson and Loveday Okechukwu.

It’s not that they have not been moving the ball well or have shown an intention to score, but at times the gulf in professional experience becomes too much to overcome. Also, being a developmental side, it is prone to too many changes and experiments and they never seem to be having a settled eleven or players in set positions.

“It’s always motivational to play against the defending champions. The boys are motivated and we are looking forward to a great game of football. You also need to understand that every season is different. We have changed our style a bit. We were dominating the possession against Real Kashmir and although we didn’t get a win there, I’m happy with the game,” said Floyd Pinto, Head Coach, Indian Arrows.

He further said, “We go to every game to win. The results don’t always reflect the game. They have shown their character in the last match. They have the agility, the zeal and we have to cautious throughout.”

Given the firepower Minerva have at their disposal, they look odds-n favourites for this one. Arrows, on the other hand, will be looking for the kind of upset, which they pulled off three times last season against fancied teams as well as the stunning win they scored against a talented Shillong side earlier in the league this season.

I-League 2018/19: Mohun Bagan face uphill battle against Chennai City

KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan will hope that the loss against Churchill Brothers is water under the bridge when facing  leaders Chennai City FC in 2018/19 I-League this Saturday evening. Kick-off at Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan is at 5 PM.

Mohun Bagan saw their unbeaten run cut short to four games when they were beaten 3-0 by Churchill last week.

Tactically Mariners looked poorer with defenders were exposed and looked incredibly vulnerable. There was no intensity in their play, they kept playing long balls, losing possession cheaply and failed to find the penetration needed to threaten the rival goal.

Despite his disappointment with the result Mohun Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty remains confident that his team will bounce back from their poor performance.

“The previous game was an eye opener for the team. The players have put the disappointment behind and fully focused on the upcoming game against Chennai City.” Chakraborty said.

While Mohun Bagan look to redeem themselves after suffering their worst home defeat since 2008/09 season,  Chakraborty knows it will not get any easier against Chennai City, who are on a 4-match winning streak, but he believes his side is more than capable of turning the corner.

“Chennai City will be very difficult opponents, they play a possession game and they hold the ball well. The key to the match will be the midfield, we need to win the ball in those areas. We have to put up some good work and make sure we take care of their strengths.” Chakraborty continued.

It’s a match Chakraborty will obviously be desperate to get a reaction from his men, but has admitted that he faces a tough task to lift the battered morale of his players.

“As a coach I understand that part of my job entails building character and asking how do we come back from setbacks. It’s never feels good when you lose a match, but we still have a lot of work to do.”  Chakraborty said. “Even in the dressing room we are being realistic because there are still many matches to play and many points to play for.”

Meanwhile, Chennai City coach Akbar Nawas explained that Mohun Bagan will be eager to bounce back from their loss to Churchill and this will make things more difficult for his team.

“We need to respect that the match Mohun Bagan lost against Churchill aren’t a reflection of the quality they possess as a team,” Nawas said. “In football, some days are yours and others aren’t. It wasn’t their day.”

“I believe we will give a good account of ourselves even though we know that Mohun Bagan will be eager to bounce back. It is an opportunity for us to rise to the occasion,” he added.

I-League 2018/19: Surging Gokulam Kerala run into red hot Churchill Brothers

Kozhikode, November 29, 2018: After a sluggish start, Gokulam Kerala FC had just begun a mini-surge, when they find themselves running into a red-hot Churchill Brothers at the EMS Corporation stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala, on Wednesday, November 30, 2018. The game begins at 5 PM and promises to be a thrilling encounter between the current number two and number three sides of the I-League in front of a packed stadium.

The Goan visitors have maintained an unbeaten record in their five games so far, one of only two sides to do so, and have plundered seven goals in their last two victories against quality opposition. Their efforts have taken them to second on the points table with nine points.

Romanian coach Petra Gigiu will be particularly pleased with the form of his leading marksman Willis Plaza, who has struck five of those seven goals. Churchill also have a compact defence which has conceded just four and maintained three clean sheets.

Besides experienced Indian players like Israil Gurung on the right wing, the Red Machines seem to have discovered a new lease of life in their game. Gambian Dawda Cessay has really acted like the able leader of the pack with regular effective and telling contributions.

Coach Gigiu while being cautiously optimistic also acknowledged the crowd factor saying, “Our last result was a good positive one but in a football match a team wins and the other one loses. Against Mohun Bagan, we utilised our chances and subsequently, we won. We’ll look forward to replicating the same tomorrow. We have seen the support behind them and that might be a key factor tomorrow.”

Bino George’s Gokulam on the other hand, actually began their surge in form, in a game in which they ended up on the losing side.

The 2-3 loss to table-toppers Chennai was the kind of confidence booster, if ever a loss can be called one, that Bino’s Boys needed. An exciting end to end see-saw battle, it was probably when Bino convinced himself that he was not going to let up on the attack for the remainder of the league.

Rajesh probably today is the biggest star in major parts of Kerala and his game is one for the crowds. He runs at defences, keeps the game simple and is relentless in his pursuit of goals. He along with the likes of VP Suhair and even a youngster like Gani Nigam have teamed up with Grenadian Antonio German to transform into a potent attacking force.

Speaking on the match-day eve, coach Bino said, “Churchill have been going through a good phase and we have also got some good results recently. We just want to stick to our plan and execute them on the pitch.”

He was also grateful for the home support quipping, “Spectators are coming to support us day in and day out and that keeps the boys pumped up to give the extra bit.”

What Gokulam will have to guard against is their defence. They have just one clean sheet from five games and against a team in the kind of goalscoring form like Churchill, it might prove costly in the end equations if not tightened up.

Both sides have never played a goalless draw in the two encounters they have had so far and Churchill are ahead in the head to head stats winning one out of those two. But they will not care too much for statistics on Friday as they bid for the primary challenger tag to runaway leaders Chennai City.

Vital month looms for Alejandro Menendez at East Bengal

KOLKATA: December is shaping up to be a crucial month for the future of East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez, with three must-win games if the Spaniard is to keep the hot seat in East Bengal.

It is true that the coach of East Bengal is always under pressure, such is the microscope that they are under and the expectation of fans. It’s something that could either hold someone back or push him to achieve more, depending on how he handle it.

Saturday’s 3-2 defeat against Aizawl FC, who were bottom of the table before kick-off, has turned up the furnace further, not so much for the result but also the manner of the defeat, where apart from the opening 20 minutes, the Red and Golds were very much second-best. 


Tactically East Bengal looked poorer with defenders were exposed and looked incredibly vulnerable. There was very little penetration in attack.

While East Bengal now face a tricky home encounter against Minerva Punjab FC on December 4, 2018 in match that could define and possibly decide Menendez’s fate as East Bengal coach.

Should they survive that hurdle, there are also two matches that will be considered ‘must-win’ as the Red and Golds battles to stay in the hunt for the I-League title. The first is home to Gokulam Kerala FC on December 8, before the Kolkata Derby against bitter rivals Mohun Bagan on December 16.

Many former players and experts are already raising questions about Menendez’s strategy and even his ability to lead a team like East Bengal, and if East Bengal fail to collect full points in any of these matches, the former Real Madrid Castilla coach would found himself under immense pressure, if he is not already.

I-LEAGUE CLUBS GIVE CONSENT TO CONCURRENT LEAGUES

NEW DELHI: Representatives of the I-League clubs met with AIFF officials at Football House, New Delhi to discuss the way forward for the I-League for the 2017-18 season till the roadmap for Indian Football in the medium and long term is finalised with assistance and guidance from the Asian Football Confederation.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Subrata Dutta, Chairman League Committee, Mr. Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF and Mr. Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League.

The Clubs agreed to the concurrent running of ISL and I-League for the season 2017-18 but stated that the I-League must be broadcast on the Star Sports platform with good quality production and proper marketing and promotion and scheduling of matches. They also recommended that a task force with the I-League Clubs be set up to review the I-League on a regular basis.

They also stated that the travel subsidy needs to be increased and that AIFF should also allocate a budget for the promotion of the I-League for 2017-18 season.

Furthermore, the Clubs recommended for permission to register 8 foreign players out of which 2 should be of Asian origin, and a maximum of five foreign players should be allowed to play on the field, one among which needs to be a player of Asian origin.

Mr. Subrata Dutta who chaired this meeting said all the recommendations of the I-League Clubs will be placed before the League Committee whose meeting is scheduled on July 5, 2017, and the final decisions of the Committee will be communicated to the clubs.

Meanwhile, the AFC has sent a communication to AIFF expressing happiness that the AIFF Executive Committee has approved the project to determine the medium and long term road map for top Indian Club football. A draft project plan will be sent by AFC soon in this regard.

However, for the season 2017-18 the AFC Secretariat is prepared to accept the concurrent running of the ISL and I league as a temporary short term “bridging” solution. The special dispensation has been reviewed and agreed by FIFA.

AIFF General Secretary, Kushal Das thanked AFC for their guidance and support. “The growth of Indian Football is our primary objective and we will take every step necessary to ensure positive results. We look forward to working with AFC and the other stakeholders to determine the most suitable medium to long term road map for Indian Football,” he said.

Mohun Bagan announce signing of Eduardo Ferreira

KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan on Tuesday have announced the signing of Brazil born naturalized Equatoguinean defender Eduardo Ferreira for the forthcoming I-League 2016/17.

The 33-year-old who was naturalized in 2013, last turned out for Indian Super League side FC Pune City and joins the Mariners for remainder of the season.

With the signing of Eduardo, Mohun Bagan have completed it’s foreign quota for the I-League, as the club retained the services of Sony Norde and Katsumi Yusa from previous season beside signing Darryl Duffy earlier in the season.

“I am excited to join Mohun Bagan one of oldest football clubs in Asia, it will be a good experience for me to play as the club has successfully won the I-League and Federation Cup in recent past. I look forward to contribute and win trophies with the Club,” said Eduardo.

Eduardo is a journeymen who played for 12 different clubs in his career so far. The strong defender began his career at Sao Paolo based club Primavera in 2005, but went on to travel Brazil with clubs like Anapolina, Anápolis, CRB and Macaé, as well as having a stints at South Africa, Colombia, Thailand and Iran before joining FC Pune City in 2016 for ISL 3.

Eduardo made his international debut for Equatorial Guinea against Spain in November 2013.

Eduardo, who is the only second Equatoguinean footballer after Raúl Fabiani to signed by a Indian club, will be arriving at Kolkata on Wednesday early morning.

DSK Shivajians FC Sign Former Irish Youth International Shane McFaul

 

Pune, India – DSK Shivajians Football Club have announced the signing of former Irish youth international Shane McFaul for a two-year term (2016-18). The midfielder joins the Pune-based squad after plying his trade in England, United States of America, Finland and Ireland.

His playing career so far has been decorated with two major honours with Irish sides. The first being an FAI Cup winner with Sporting Fingal (2009), followed by the League of Ireland Premier Division title with Dublin-based St. Patrick’s Athletic FC in 2013.

Other teams Shane has represented during his career include; Notts County and Brighton & Hove Albion FC in England and Finland Premier League sides FC KTP (Kotkan Työväen Palloilijat) and FC Haka.

For the record, Shane has been capped numerous times as a youth player at various levels (Under 14 to 21) for the Republic of Ireland.

The 30-year-old is a ball-winning midfielder who is equally adept distribution and thus, becomes the second foreign player to be signed by DSK Shivajians FC for the season ahead. Earlier, the club renewed the contract of Spaniard winger Juan Quero.

The central midfielder began his career playing local club football in Ireland when he caught the eye of League One side Notts County, and was promoted to the senior squad in 2002 at the age of 16. In 2005, he moved to American side Virginia Beach Mariners, where he spent a year, before signing for UCD Dublin. In January 2008, he signed for Brighton and Hove Albion FC where he made his debut in a 3-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra.

Later that year, he sealed a move back to UCD Dublin before moving to Sporting Fingal for the 2009-10 season. He then moved to St. Patrick’s Athletic FC in 2011. In 2012, he had a successful stint in Finland with FC Haka which led to St Patick’s Athletic FC bringing him back for another season. In 2014, he signed for FC KTP in Finland and captained the side in 2016 and played a major part in their promotion-winning campaign, before turning his eyes to the Indian subcontinent and landing a contract at DSK Shivajians FC.

First Team Manager Dave Rogers, said: “I am thrilled to have signed Shane McFaul. I have monitored Shane’s progress since he was a young player in the League of Ireland Premier Division and his rise and progress in England and Finland.

Shane is a fantastic leader on and off the pitch and an all round midfield player possessing all the attributes I was looking for. His profile and character makes him the perfect signing in my philosophy and direction on how I intend to take the club forward.

He possesses excellent game intelligence and awareness both in and out of possession. Shane’s influence and passion will be felt throughout the whole club especially the younger players who have developed through our academy system. His presence, knowledge and sole professionalism will have a positive impact overall.

I look forward to working with Shane daily and in the long term.”

Shirish Kulkarni, President, DSK Shivajians FC, added: “I would like to welcome Shane to India, the DSK family and wish him all the very best for the season ahead. Shane’s experience of playing several leagues in Europe will help with the balance of the squad. He will have an important role to play and has a lot to offer.”

Shane McFaul expressed his joy at signing for DSK Shivajians FC. “I am absolutely honoured to have this amazing opportunity to come and play for DSK Shivajians FC.

It was always something I wanted to do… come and play in Asia as I’ve played in many other footballing cultures and now, in India.

Once I spoke to Dave about his plans and the project I knew at once I really wanted to be part of this club.

I know the I-League is a growing league and I am very excited for the new season as Manager Dave Rogers is assembling a top quality squad for the season. There are a lot of talented young players and many internationals players.

I’ve been blown away by the facilities at DSK, the best of any club that I have played for.

With the experience Dave (Rogers) and Barry (Knowles) have, I know I am going to improve so much as a player and I am sure we are going to have a strong campaign.”

McFaul has already joined the squad for pre-season at the DSK Dream City Football Fields.