Category Archives: Football


India’s ISL became world football’s fourth biggest league


ISL became world football’s fourth biggest league

ISL attendances behind only England, Germany and Spain.

Atletico de Kolkata

A goal by Mohammed Rafique in the dying seconds of the final won the Indian Super League title for Atlético de Kolkata in what is now the fourth highest attended league in the world.

The opening game drew 65,000 supporters to Atlético de Kolkata’s ground, the Salt Lake Stadium, for the match against Mumbai City. That game was also watched on TV by 74.7m, and the league as a whole had ratings of 170.6m in the first week. The figures for the first phase of this year’s Indian Premier League cricket was 184m.


Atletico de Kolkata prevail over FC Goa; advance to final

Atletico de Kolkata got their act right in the nick of time to humble crowd favourites FC Goa 4-2 in tie-breaker and advance to the final of the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) football.

Atletico de Kolkata will lock horns with Kerala Blasters FC in the summit showdown at the D Y Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.

The second leg semifinal between the two fierce rivals went into extra time after they were locked goal-less in the regulation time. With both teams failing to break the deadlock even in the 30 minutes of extra time, the game was decided via penalty shootout in which the visitors emerged winners.

The first leg semifinal between the two sides in Kolkata had ended in a goal-less stalemate.

Things panned out pretty much in the same manner before the Sourav Ganguly co-owned side edged past the hosts on penalties after playing out yet another drab draw in the 120 minutes of play.

While they failed to score in regulation and extra time, Atletico de Kolkata’s Josemi, Mohammed Rafi, Jofre Mateu and Borja Fernandez were bang on target when it mattered most at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

For the Goa outfit, Andre Santos’s spot-kick sailed over the bar while Haroon Amiri’s effort struck the upright. Tolgay Ozbey and Clifford Miranda successfully converted but that was not enough.

Bruno Pinheiro returned from suspension for the home side while coach Zico also included Peter Carvalho in his starting XI. The duo replaced the injured Narayan Das and Youness Bengelloun.

Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Lopez Habas made two changes, bringing in Arnab Mondal and Baljit Sahni, who was coming off a one-game suspension. The visitors, though, were without Fikru Teferra.

The visitors had the first chance of the game when Jakub Podany was brought down by Gregory Arnolin, but the resultant free-kick by Josemi was off target.

The home side had its share of chances too when Debabrata Roy laid one for Andre Santos at the far post in the seventh minute. The Brazilian pulled the ball back which was deflected by Ofentse Nato for Romeo Fernandes, but the Indian winger’s effort found the side-netting.


Atletico de Kolkata squander home advantage to draw goalless with FC Goa

Atletico de Kolkata spurned the golden opportunity of making best use of home advantage as they were held to a goalless draw by FC Goa in the first-leg semifinal of the Hero Indian Super League on Sunday.

ATK might have been down with injuries to three key players in Arnab Mondal, Biswajit Saha and Fikru Teferra but the home team had the best chance on the day Goa too played with a fragile defence.

There was no Bruno Pinheiro (suspended) and even left back Narayan Das had to be replaced early on after an injury but ATK failed to breach the fragile Goan defence with an uninspiring display barring the brilliance of their Spanish captain Luis Garcia.

ATK was not short on support as over 50,000 boisterous fans kept cheering for the ‘Red and Whites’ but Garcia was severely let down by his lieutenants and the fans just had to return home disappointed in the last home match for Kolkata this season.

With no Fikru, who so far played the only forward’s role in Antonio Habas 4-3-2-1 formation, their was no sting in their attack that was led by Keralite striker Mohammad Rafi.

Rakesh Masih, who played alongside Borja Fernandes in the central midfield performed below-par and was a complete mismatch to Garcia’s effective ball control and measured passing.

From the Goa team’s perspective, the away draw would certain be a morale booster as they just need to win by a solitary goal margin in their return semi-final leg at home December 17 to book a ticket to Mumbai for the summit clash December 20.

The Kolkata outfit failed to win from six matches with their last win coming against North East United FC, way back on November 18 and since then they have suffered two losses.

Brazilian legend Zico’s team on the otherhand are in the middle of a nine-match unbeaten run that included five wins as they will start clear favourites at in the semi last leg at home.

Goa suffered a setback early on after their impressive left-back Das sustained a right knee injury after a bad fall.

Garcia was behind the Goan defender but there wasn’t any touch as Das twisted his leg and was later replaced by Peter Carvalho to give their defence a big blow.

But it was of little consequence in ATK’s perspective as Rakesh Masih and Co severely let down Garcia’s fine moves.

The former Champions League winner for Liverpool was impressive right from the word go as he not only initiated their raids but controlled the ball in the midfield and for a moment it seemed that FCG are playing against one man in Garcia.

While ATK had the more share of the attack in the first half there was no open opportunity but FCG played as a unit and were bolstered by the return of the trio of Andre Santos, Miroslav Slepicka and Romeo Fernandes.

The visitors had the only real chance in the first period when an unmarked Romeo could only find the side net after getting the possession from Mandar Tamhane in the 18th minute.

Earlier Atletico de Kolkata made four changes to their starting line-up, Arnab Mondal, Biswajit Saha, Baljit Sahni and Fikru are replaced by Luis Garcia, Sanju Pradhan, Lester Fernandez and Rakesh Masih.

NE United ends ISL campaign with a draw against Mumbai City

NorthEast United FC hold Mumbai City FC 1-1 to finish at the bottom of the league table. The hosts took the lead from Koke’s penalty goal in the first half. The visitors restored parity with Sushil Kumar Singh’s in the dying moments of the match. Both the teams wasted series of opportunities.
The last game of the group stage of Hero Indian Super League featured hosts NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC. The game was inconsequential as the semi finalists were already decided. Both the teams started the game on a positive note.
NorthEast United dominated the initial proceedings. Peter Reid made two changes in his winning combination, introducing Sushil Kumar Singh and Raju Gaikwad in place of Nicolas Anelka and Syed Rahim Nabi. The Indian strikers never looked intimidating in front of the goal. Ricki Herbert on the other hand brought in Koke in the starting lineup which increased the flair in their attack force.
In the 33rd minute Tomas Josl made a superb run down the left flank. He entered the penalty box but was brought down by Deepak Mondal. Penalty was awarded and Koke converted from the spot. Minutes later Durga Boro got a golden opportunity to increase their lead, but missed it.
Peter Reid surprisingly replaced Subrata Pal in the beginning of the second half and gave Portuguese goalkeeper his maiden appearance in the Indian Super League. Mumbai City FC looked more positive in the second half with a genuine intent to restore parity.
In the 65th minute Abhishek Yadav got a very good opportunity but Rehenesh TP as usual brilliant under the woodwork. He pulled off yet another fantastic save. Mumbai City FC finally equalized through Sushil Kumar Singh’s header in the 84th minute.
The final moments of the match turned out to be the most exciting part of the game as Nadong Bhutia and Massamba Lou Samba missed two sitters each on either side.
The final match of the group stages turned out to be an exciting encounter. A total of 121 goals were scored. NorthEast United FC ended their campaign with 15 points and finished at the rock bottom of the league table. Mumbai City FC finished with 16 points a place above NorthEast.

Kerala Blasters became the third team

Kerala Blasters became the third team to qualify for the play-offs of the inaugural Indian Super League season on Tuesday, beating FC Pune City 1-0 after Delhi Dynamos had played out a 2-2 draw with Chennaiyin FC.

With just one matchday left to play, Delhi and NorthEast United FC have been eliminated from play-off contention, while Mumbai City will need a miracle to overtake Atletico de Kolkata.

FC Goa will have a chance to overtake Chennaiyin for the top seed on the final match day, but they’ll have to beat Atletico at their ground to do so.

Del Piero scores maiden ISL goal as Delhi hold Chennaiyin 2-2

Italian legend Alessandro del Piero scored his first goal at the fag end of the tournament via a superb free-kick as Delhi Dynamos rallied from two goal down to hold leaders Chennaiyin FC 2-2 in a thrilling Indian Super League football match.

The draw gave Delhi a small chance to make it to the semifinals as their qualification will now depend on the results of tomorrow’s matches.

Chennaiyin, who now have 23 points after their league engagements ended today, and Goa FC (21 points with one match left) have already qualified for the semifinals. Delhi have also ended their league engagements with 18 points and their fate may be decided by the result of tomorrow’s match between Atletico de Kolkata — who also have 18 points — and Goa FC in Kolkata.

A win will seal ATK a place in the last four but a loss against Goa tomorrow by a two-goal margin may create problems for them. ATK have a goal difference of three as against two of Delhi. A loss for ATK tomorrow by two-goal margin will see their goal difference reduce to just one.

Chennai got off to an great start with Bruno Pelissari and Jeje Lalpekhlua putting them comfortably ahead in the 16th and 28th minutes respectively. Delhi hit back in the second session through Del Piero’s excellent free-kick in the 53rd minute and Hans Mulder’s drive from outside the area in the 88th minute.

Delhi looked the better of the two teams at the start of the game and set about attacking with purpose. They did threaten the Chennaiyin citadel time and again but were unable to make the most of their chances.

It was Chennai who took the unexpected lead. Adil Khan blocked Jeje Lalpekhlua from running on to a loose ball in the box and hit it out for a corner. The Brazilian Pelissari stepped up and curled his flag-kick directly past Kristof Van Hout and into the far corner for a sensational opener in the 16th minute that set the home side on their way.

Things did not get better for the visitors following the goal as Mads Junker went down with an injury and was replaced by Del Piero in the 23rd minute.

FC Pune City defeat Mumbai City FC 2-0

FC Pune City rode on Dudu Omagbemi’s double strike to record a convincing 2-0 win over Mumbai City FC, the result virtually knocking the visitors out of a semifinal reckoning while keeping alive the home side’s chances in the Indian Super League on Wednesday.

Dudu rose to the occasion with two second half goals (66th and 80th minutes) to send Franco Colomba’s men soaring up to the fourth spot in the ISL table.

The match could have gone the other way had Tiago Ribeiro converted a penalty in the 51st minute for the visitors. The only downside for the victors was the expulsion of their head coach for entering the pitch in celebration of his side’s goals.

It was a frantic start to a very entertaining first period. The home side was off the blocks almost immediately with the Nigerian striker testing Subrata Paul from distance. The India No 1 keeper was up to the task however and thwarted a wave of Pune attacks. Pune really should have taken the lead through Dudu again but Paul stood firm once more.

Park Kwang-Il, playing on the left side of the midfield, was a livewire throughout but even he was guilty of missing a good chance. Kostas Katsouranis and Jermaine Pennant also fluffed their lines. Manuel Friedrich and Abhishek Yadav came closest to opening the scoring for the away side. Both however, missed their headers from Ribeiro’s corners.

In the second session, Pune looked like the only team who showed up. Mumbai made a half-time change bringing in Subhash Singh for Sushil Kumar Singh. But that did not make a difference to the home side as they continued to push forward.

Against the run of play however, Mumbai were awarded a penalty when Pritam Kotal stuck his hand out to control a cross in his area. Ribeiro stepped up and hit it to the right of Arindam Bhattacharya who got down well to make the stop and become the first keeper to save a penalty in the tournament.

A few minutes later, Krisztian Vadocz had the ball in the Mumbai net but it was chalked off for a handball. The home side finally got the reward for their persistence in the 66th minute when Dudu, who was lying injured on the pitch moments before, collected a cross from the left on his chest and volleyed it past an impressive Paul.

Pune got a second in the 80th minute when Park put a low cross into the box. A poor clearance saw the ball fall for Katsouranis who snatched at a shot. Dudu was however on hand to backheel it past Paul.

Peter Reid has a lot of thinking to do ahead of his cellar side’s next clash against Atletico de Kolkata at home on December 7 while Pune will feel more comfortable at home meeting Delhi Dynamos FC a day before.

FC Goa drub NorthEast United FC 3-0

FC Goa registered their third win on the trot at home as they drubbed NorthEast United FC 3-0 to jump to second place in the Hero Indian Super League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Monday.

FC Goa, who led 2-0 at half time, scored through Romeo Fernandes (33rd minute), Miroslav Slepicka (45+1) and Andre Santos (74th).

The Zico-coached side ended their home campaign with their third straight win and moved to second spot with 18 points from 12 matches to brighten their chances of making it to the semifinals.

NorthEast United FC remained on sixth place at the league standings with 13 points from 12 matches.

FC Goa went offensive from the start and created couple of scoring chances early in the match but Amiri and Andre Santos failed to find the target.

Romeo Fernandes infused spark in the match by breaking the deadlock in the 33th minute. Debrata Roy, who initiated the move on the right flank, relayed the ball to Romeo Fernandes who, in turn, laid a pass to Andre Santos inside the box.

Santos quickly gave a forward pass back to Romeo who after getting the better of defender Miguel Garcia essayed a left footer that hit the post and went in.

The visitors made a substitution bringing in James Keene in place of Kondwani Mtonga and the striker did pose problems to the home team defenders as he came close to scoring twice.

Striker Miroslav Slepicka increased the lead in the first minute of the first half injury time when he shot home with a stiff grounder, beating the rival keeper T Rehenseh to have the home team leading 2-0 at half time.

After the change of ends, the visitors made double changes bringing in Tomas Josi and Alen Deory in place of Isaac Chansa and Zodingliana and made some concerted moves with Koke nearly finding the mark.

Jan Seda, who looked confident under the bar, made a rare blemish when he failed to collect a chip from the left, but luckily the ball was cleared by a home team defender for safety.

With the visitors doing most of the probing, FC Goa came with a counter move and scored their third goal to settle the issue.

NorthEast United thrash leaders Chennaiyin FC 3-0

NorthEast United pumped in three first half goals in a rampaging show to drub table toppers Chennaiyin FC 3-0 in an absorbing Hero Indian Super League match to keep their hopes of a semifinal berth alive on Thursday.

Senegalese defender Massamba Lo Sambou scored twice (21st and 23rd) in the space of two minutes after Assmamese Durga Boro struck in the 10th minute to consolidate his status as one of the domestic finds of the tournament in front of a packed crowd at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.

With nearly 30,000 home supporters cheering their club, NorthEast were ahead 3-0 in the 23rd minute and they denied the table leaders from Chennai to score any goal to notch up their first win in seven matches.

Chennaiyin did most of the attacking with more shots on goal but they could not find the target. Even NorthEast marquee player Joan Capdevila’s expulsion in the 72nd minute after his second yellow card did not lead to any goal from Chennaiyin as the home side guarded their citadel well.

Before Thursday’s victory, NorthEast have not won a match since their 2-0 away defeat of Mumbai on October 24. Since then, they have lost three and drawn three matches before today’s win.

After Thursday’s win, NorthEast have jumped to fifth spot with 13 points from 11 matches while Chennaiyin remained on top of league table with 19 points from 11 matches.

Chennaiyin will now feel the pressure what with Atletico de Kolkata hot on their heels with 16 points from 10 matches.

Chennaiyin head down south to Kochi for a game against Kerala Blasters FC on November 30 while NorthEast travel to Goa for their next fixture on December 1.

NorthEast were on the ball right from the word go. They pegged the visitors back in their own half with their passing and speed of movement, particularly down the flanks.

The home fans did not have to wait long to see their team go in front, when Eric Djemba-Djemba’s headed clearance hit Seiminlen Doungel and fell kindly for Durga Boro in the 10th minute.

The Assamese striker was in the right place at the right time and pounced on the opportunity and finished past a charging Gennaro Bracigliano.

That opened the floodgates and some 10 minutes later Sambou got two goals in quick succession, both from set pieces, one a corner, and the other a free kick.

The latter was a beautifully floated in curler from Koke which saw Sambou rise majestically over his markers and head it powerfully across the goal and into the far corner of the net.

Both goals came in a space of two minutes and NorthEast were three goals ahead in the 23rd minute after managing to score just one goal in the last three games.

The match had a lot of heated moments as the visitors felt the pressure getting to them, but surprisingly, they were the team that ended the game with 11 men, as NorthEast marquee player Capdevila was sent off in the 72nd minute after his second booking.