Saturday, 21 April 2018

SAFF Championship 2018 draw concluded, India in Group B with Sri Lanka and Maldives.

SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 official draw was concluded on Wednesday at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka as seven South Asian teams from SAFF conference learned their opponent and pool groupings.
Hosts Bangladesh are in Pool A along with Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan while defending champions India are in Group B with Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The tournament will kick off on September 4th and group stages will continue till 9th and the two semi-finals will be held on September 12th with the final on 15th September 2018.
SAFF President Kazi Md Salahuddin speaking to media delegates said: “We raised the curtain on what will be the 12th edition of our region’s biggest and most important international tournament."

Bengaluru FC comes from a goal down to beat East Bengal 4-1 in the Super Cup Final.

By Rajarshi Chakrabarty                                                                                         Image Source: The AIFF
Bengaluru FC inspirational skipper and captain Sunil Chhetri described the inaugural Hero Super Cup final as "one of the best game of my life" after scoring two goals to help his team beat East Bengal 4-1 at the Kalinga Stadium.
Ansumanah Koramah pulled off a stunning overhead volley in the 28th minute to give East Bengal an unlikely lead in the game after Gurpreet Singh failed to deal with a corner.
Bengaluru was the dominant side as the attacking trio of Miku, Chhetri and Udanta kept pegging East Bengal in their own half with free-flowing attacking football.
Erik Paartalu and Victor Perez orchestrated the midfield constructing attacks down the wing using Udanta and Chhetri as well as constructing attack down the middle to put tremendous pressure on East Bengal defence.The pressure finally paid off when Rahul Bheke lost his marker Kromah to head in from the corner in the 39th minute to give Bengaluru FC the much-needed equalizer.
But East Bengal was dealt a serious blow just before the halftime mark when Samad Ali Mullick was red carded for an unnecessary high elbow into Subhasish Bose's face and the referee gave him the marching orders.
Back in the second half, 10-man East Bengal tried to contain Bengaluru FC but with the introduction of Toni Dovale in place of Erik Paartalu, Alberto Roca went for an all-out kill as East Bengal started to look vulnerable defensively.
On the 68th minute, Bengaluru found the stroke of luck as they were awarded a penalty after Gurwinder handled the ball inside the box in an attempt to clear a corner.Sunil Chhetri stepped-up to spot to send the keeper the wrong way as Bengaluru FC lead 2-1 in the night.
With a nose ahead in the game and 10-man East Bengal looking for an equalizer left gaping holes in the East Bengal defence as Bengaluru started to tighten the noose with Toni Dovale and Victor Perez synchronised attacks in the final third to create a flurry of chances.
In the 71st minute, Victor Perez neatly threaded a pass to Miku who sidestepped his marker Eduardo to unleash a powerful shot beating Ubaid as Bengaluru started to show their elixir of class with another theatrical display of dominant football.
With 3-1 up for the night, the catastrophe for East Bengal was finally completed when Sunil Chhetri scored his second of the night in the 90th minute with a perfect header from Udanta's cross as 4-1 scoreline lay testimony to the victory that was never destined to be comfortable, it was, in the end, convincing as Bengaluru FC lifted the Hero Super Cup 2018 trophy.

Bengaluru comes from a goal down to slay Mohun Bagan 4-2 to enter Hero Super Cup Final.

By Rajarshi Chakrabarty

Bengaluru FC showed mettle and class as they came from a goal down and reduced to 10-men to beat Mohun Bagan 4-2 in the Hero Super Cup semi-final.
Both teams came out attacking in the opening stages as Nikhil Kadam found himself in space inside the box in the 7th minute but could not set himself up for the shot and skied the ball away from the target. Boithang had an opportunity on the other end moments later as the match swayed end to end but ended up missing the target narrowly.
As the match progressed the Bengaluru FC trio of Udanta, Miku and Chhetri started to combine well in the attacking third as Mohun Bagan were forced to defend deep into their box.
Udanta had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring when he beautifully turned around his marker inside the box but could not find the target in the 18th minute as Mohun Bagan were on the ropes.
But it was Mohun Bagan who opened the scoring in the 42nd minute as Dipanda Dicka netted in from close range from Akram Moghrabi's assist to give Bagan a 1-0 lead going into the halftime interval.
Back in the second half, Bengaluru FC suffered a major setback being down to 10-man as Nishu Kumar was red carded for a reckless tackle on Nikhil Kadam in an empty space and was given the marching order for being the last defender.
10-man Bengaluru was not cowed down by the setback as they took the attack to Mohun Bagan as Miku showed his class from the 62nd minute onward as he secured the equalizer with a powerful strike inside the box to beat Shilton to make it 1-1.
The second goal came in the 65th minute as Mohun Bagan were caught napping from a quickly taken free kick by Bengaluru FC as Miku slammed in past Shilton Paul to script a remarkable turnaround for Bengaluru FC to make it 2-1.
Miku completed his hattrick in the 89th minute with a perfect penalty to make it 3-1 as Bengaluru FC clearly looked the dominant side in front of a hapless looking Mohun Bagan.
The magic moment of the game came in the 90th minute as Sunil Chhetri produced a stellar goal cutting back inside the box to lose his marker and buried his right-footed curler from 18 yards out past a diving Shilton Paul to put the game to bed with a 4-1margin.
Dicka managed to pull back another goal, his second of the night to make it 4-2 but it was too late as Bengaluru FC walloped to a fantastic 4-2 to make it to the final where they face a resurging Eat Bengal side. 

Dudu’s 78th minute goal hands East Bengal a place in Hero Super Cup Final, beats FC Goa 1-0.

By Rajarshi Chakrabarty
Dudu Omagbemi turned the savior for East Bengal as the striker's 78th-minute strike gave East Bengal their ticket to the final of the Hero Super Cup 2018 beating FC Goa 1-0.
FC Goa was seriously incapacitated due to the suspension of 4 key players as Hugo Boumous, Brandon Fernandes, Sergio Juste and Bruno Pinheiro missed out due to suspensions.
East Bengal came all-out attacking and it was Mahmoud Al-Amna who missed the easiest chance of the half, failing to tap-in from six-yard box with the goalkeeper at his mercy.
Ferran Corominas did well wonderfully to make his way through brilliant individual skills into the East Bengal box, right into the stroke of half-time but could not keep his shot on target in his second attempt.
Back in the second half, both teams looked to create chances and opportunities went begging due to lack of quality in the final ball. Ferran Corominas was at the heart of the action as he dangerously lurked around East Bengal box and made some good penetrative run to stretch the backline. Corominas came close to scoring in the 73rd minute when his thunderous freekick from just outside the box rattled the crossbar.
In a match of measured attacking approach and stubborn defending it was East Bengal who opened the scoring in the 78th minute through Dudu Omagbemi when the Nigerian poked his feet into Katsumi's cross to give East Bengal 1-0 lead. Dudu Omagmeni showed his importance in the team as the lone positive striker with his poaching instinct in a crucial game to open the scoring.
Any chance for an FC Goa comeback met with a serious blow when influential midfielder Edu Bedia needlessly clattered down Kromah on the 82nd minute and was given the marching orders by the referee.
FC Goa had two golden chances right at the trailing end of the game when Ferran Corominas lurking in the box tried to meet a beautiful cross but Eduardo's intervention and clearance averted the danger but almost went back into his own net.
The second one saw Manvir Singh found himself in open space in the 92 minute after some indecisive defending from Gurwinder but the striker failed to keep his shot on the target as FC Goa’s chance for an equalizer seemed improbable.
As time ticked by East Bengal did just enough to see off the match and cruise into the final with a narrow 1-0 lead where a dominant Bengaluru FC awaits them in an enticing encounter between two familiar foes now coming off different leagues.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Sunil Chhetri hattrick sends Bengaluru FC to semi-final, beats NEROCA FC 3-1

By Rajarshi Chakrabarty
At 33, Sunil Chhetri is not quickest around as the wrong side of 30 starts to take away a yard or two of pace, the magic starts to fade away and younger quicker opponents beat you for a chase or close you down in a flash.
But the name is Sunil Chhetri, India and Bengaluru FC's talismanic skipper is showing no signs of slowing down as the striker hammered another hattrick in a big game against a tough and resolute NEROCA FC side in the Hero Super Cup quarter-final.
Chhetri showed his skills of being an elite poacher lurking at the right areas around the box, with his twinkling feet and pouring out his magic as he completed his hat-trick deep into the extra time with a swaggering show of force to take Bengaluru FC into the semi-final.
The first goal came in the 13th minute as Chhetri released Udata into open space down the right flank.Udanta delivered a whipping cross into the six-yard box as NEROCA FC keeper Lalit Thapa could only push it away but Chhetri was positioned perfectly between two defenders to bury the header into the back of the net.
NEROCA FC managed to restore parity and scored the important goal just at the stroke of halftime.Aryn Williams long ball from the freekick was not collected cleanly by Gurpreet and fell to Pritam Singh whose first shot bounced off the keeper but placed the ball into the goal in his second attempt to make it 1-1 in the stoppage time of first half.
Back in the second half, NEROCA threatened intermittently as Felix Odilli Chidi broke away into space during a couple of occasions but could not find the target.
It was Sunil Chhetri in the 55th minute showed his brilliant poaching skills as he timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap to find himself in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper and headed it down nicely to put it past Lait Thapa, as Bengaluru FC went 2-1 up.
NEROCA almost found their moment in the 79th minute, when Ashok Singh's cross found Chidi in the box but the striker failed to keep his header into the frame.
But the game belonged to Sunil Chhetri as showed his class and lethality as the 33-year-old still had the astute and hunger to make run into the box overcoming the tiredness and fatigue of playing in hot, humid conditions.
It was 94th minute on the clock and Chhetri still managed to get the run into the box as Toni Dovale laid it off for Chhetri into the box who shielded himself from the vision of the keeper behind his marker Gorimangi Singh to bury the ball at the back of the net.
3-1 to Bengaluru and Sunil Chhetri as the Bengaluru FC finds themselves at the business end of yet another tournament as they renew their rivalry with old foes Mohun Bagan in a mouth-watering semi-final encounter on 17th April 2018 at the Kalinga Stadium.

6 Red cards and 6 Goals, as FC Goa beat Jamshedpur FC 6-1 in a dramatic encounter.

By Rajarshi Chakrabarty
A bizarre quarter-final game saw 3 players from each team being red carded at halftime as FC Goa beat Jamshedpur FC 5-1 to make it the Super Cup semi-final.
Goals from Brandon Fernandes (34’), Ferran Corominas (P – 69’), Manvir Singh (77’), Hugo Boumous (78’; 89’) saw FC Goa thrash Jamshedpur FC as Ashim Biswas managed to pull one back for Jamshedpur FC deep into the injury time (90+2').
Goa led 1-0 at the halftime with a 34-minute strike from Brandon Fernandes going into the break.But a clash between the players of both sides at half time saw 3 players from each team were shown red card. Subrata  Paul, Belfort and Anas Edathodika were sent off from Jamshedpur’s end, Fernandes, Sergio Juste and Bruno Pinheiro were red carded for FC Goa.
The six red cards changed the tactical shape of both teams as more space on the pitch was well exploited by FC Goa passing and possession football as they adapted well to the downsized formation.
Corominas has been the top marksman for FC Goa and the Spaniard scored on 69th minute from a penalty after being brought down into the box by Memo.
With a 2-0 lead, FC Goa started to play with flair and freedom as Jamshedpur FC's eulogy was being scripted by then as Manvir Singh added a third in the 77th minute.
With the match rolling into the final 10 minutes, Hugo Boumous strike twice within few minutes(78’; 89’) with the first coming off a brilliant forward run and unleashing a powerful left-footer to score his first.His second came in the 89th minute as the Moroccan neatly tucked a low cross from Edu Bedia to complete pegging the final nail in Jamshedpur FC' s coffin.
Ashim Biswas managed to grab a consolation goal right at the end(90+2') with a composed finish as the match ended without any further drama with Jamshedpur FC's 5-1 annihilation.

FC Goa will now take on Kolkata giants East Bengal in the semi-final with a depleted side as three key players would miss out due to suspension in the crunch game.