Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pune FC wins the battle of professionals

Two quick strikes by the visitors in the first half and a later in the second half sealed the fate of the Round 2 game between Bengaluru FC (BFC) and Pune FC (PFC). 

BFC gaffer Westwood pulled a surprise of sort by benching Captain Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh. Young left back Lalchhuanmawia was in the starting lineup.  Also, central midfielder Joshua Walker made a comeback after sitting out the first match owing to injury. 

PFC started with all foreigners including their newly inducted player from Portugal Edgar Marcelino. 

The host made their first foray in the 5th minute from left by Keegan Perriera, few minutes later Thoi Singh’s long ranger missed the target. They forced 5 corners in the first half, but failed to take any advantage. 

Montenegrin international Darko Nikač scored in the 9th minute - a calm finish to the right corner of net after beating an offside trap. PFC struck once again through central defender 25th minute Luciano Sobrosa. 

It took no time for the BFC coach to bring Sunil Chhetri to the pitch replacing Keegan Perriera. The change impacted immediately with a couple of quick attacks.  

A good built up from center by Walker could have got host their first goal, a brilliant one-touch pass from Sean Rooney set the ball for Chhetri, but PFC keeper was there at the right spot which prevented from scoring. 
Post lemon break, BFC added power in their attack by bringing in Robin Singh for Beikhokhei.  

The score line could have read 3-0 for PFC should Thongkhosiem Haokip not missed a sitter in the 53rd minute. It was a matter of 20-odd minutes, when the tall striker from North-East scored an opportunistic goal from all the hard work that Ishfaq Ahmed did in the center.  

In the 88th minute medio Eugenson Lyngdoh pulled one back for the hosts.    

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pune and Bengaluru FC are the examples to follow in Indian Football: Kareem

Round 2 and the clash is between India’s two most professional clubs – Bengaluru FC (BFC) and Pune FC (PFC). Though both teams have failed to register a win in round 1, bet they are looking to win this game in the Hero I-League campaign!

Needless to say both teams are well prepared in this season, they played against each other few weeks ago during the Hero Federation Cup semifinal, where Bengaluru got the better of Pune in a hard fought battle. The former went on winning the cup.   

PFC has always been a tough opposition for BFC, they could not get past PFC in the last edition of I-League. Though BFC coach Ashley Westwood looked quite content with a draw against Dempo last week, he too is looking for a win.  

Westwood said, “We play every game to win, obviously PFC is a strong team, even they too play to win. Finally it would all come to who got the best formation and tactic in the day”. 

Pune is missing 3 players from their first squad, skipper Anas Edathodika, Prakash Thorat and Fanai Lalrempuia who were in excellent touch from the beginning of the season are out injured. 

PFC’s Moroccan coach Karim Bencherifa assures, “We have 19 players in the squad, everyone is fit and in good form.” 

PFC is bolstered by two new foreign signings - striker Darko Nikač, Montenegrin international as a marquee player and Portuguese midfielder Edgar Marcelino who had plied his trade for FC Goa in the recently concluded ISL. However, Edgar seems to be a doubtful starter on Saturday delay to clearance formalities. 

Kareem trusts in the professionalism displayed by both clubs, “PFC and BFC are the examples to follow in India Football!”

The match between Bengaluru FC and Pune FC is slated to start tomorrow, Saturday, 7 PM, Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Former state footballer Mahendra Prasad passes away

Former Santosh Trophy player, Mahendra Prasad died at his residence yesterday evening owing to respiratory problem. He was 66 years old and left behind his wife and two daughters. 

Prasad started his football career with Binny Mills in the 70s, later he moved on to CIL. He joined HAL in 1978 and ITI the following year, where he played till 1990. 

While representing ITI, Prasad played on all national-level tournaments. A speedy forward in his heydays, Mahendra Prasad was often termed as a goal getter. Also, he played in the midfield position for ITI.

His body was taken to the Christian cemetery on Hosur road, where the  burial took place at 4.45 pm. KSFA and BDFA condoled the death of Mahendra Prasad. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bengaluru fail to get past Dempo

Sans three foreigners and regular captain Clifford Miranda, Dempo kept their defense tight and played a goalless draw against the champions Bengaluru FC (BFC).  

Pleasant weather, electric atmosphere, crowd chants, assembling to stadium an hour advance. The match between Bengaluru FC and Dempo Sports Club at Sree Kanteerava Stadium was set for an absolute humdinger. 

For Dempo, new signee Nirmal Chhetri was in the starting lineup. For BFClast year’s star performer goalkeeper Pawan Kumar was replaced by Ralte, who has shown his nerve under the bar in Durand and Federation Cup. 

BFC kicked off, attacking from left to right, they held the edge as the visitors could field only one foreigner. Tolgay Ozbey and Haroon Fakhruddin were out injured and Costa Rican medio Carlos Hernandez could not be fielded owing to clearance issue.  

The first minute of the game saw Sunil’s floater from the right wing, which was cleared by skipper Callum Angus. A needless charge by defender Debabrata Roy to Beikhokhei, the later was booked on the 9th minute after a rough challenge on Robin Singh. 

Papas’ young Turks Romeo, Holicharan, and Mandar tried making inroads.  Some stout defending from central defenders Angus and Fulgancia Cardozo kept BFCs attack at bay. 

Dempo missed scoring opportunity twice in first half - in 21st minute a looping corner from Farncis Fernandez touched Angus’s head missed the top corner. Another one in 34th minute BFC keeper when Ralte failed to clear a Jewel Raja’s long shot and Holicharan failed to latch the opportunity on his follow-up.   

BFC earned a penalty in the 44’ minute after continuous pressure in the last 5 minutes of first half.  Angus handballed inside the box, however, Dempo keeper Kattimani guessed Sunil Chhetri’s shot on the right side.   

Both teams failed to score in the second half. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bengaluru begin I-League campaign against Dempo

Round 1 of Hero I-League season, country’s best two teams in contention, newly laid natural turf, bigger capacity stadium, LED infused floodlight - football-loving fans of the Garden City couldn't have asked for a better weekend! 

A very similar position for the host Bengaluru FC too! After winning I-League last season, they have won the Hero Federation Cup few weeks back outdoing the same rival.  

Bengaluru FC proved to be a tormentor for India’s best football club for the past decade, Dempo Sports Club. They’ve have defeated them in past three occasions.

Coach Ashley Westwood feels his boys have worked on their fitness level in last 5 months and conditioned well for a long season. “Other than Joshua Walker, who picked up an injury in the Federation Cup finals, the rest of the team looks fine. We are in great form, only hope to be consistent, and carry forward to the rest of the season”, says coach. 

For the 5-time champions Dempo, it will be a bumpy start to the race. They have few injury concerns – Afghanistan international Haroon Fakhruddin has been ruled out and Tolgay Ozbey and Clifford appears to be a doubtful for tomorrow’s match.

Dempo captain believes that the JSW-promoted club from Bangalore holds advantage, “Bengaluru FC is playing at home, the best team in the country at this moment, and the Hero Federation Cup champion”, said the India international. 

Clifford did not reveal much on Dempo’s strategy for the game rather it is up to Coach Arthur Papas’ plate. But his team is not intimidated, “Despite of all concerns, we still have 11 players to play”, affirms Clifford. 

The match between Bengaluru FC and Dempo Sports Club is slated to start tomorrow, Saturday, 7 PM, Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore. 

Dempo SC captain Clifford Miranda and Bengaluru FC Captain Sunil Chhetri  pose with the Hero I-League trophy during the Launch Press Conference in Bangalore.