CHIRAG UNITED
v
AIFF XI

Kolkata, 3rd December 2010
2:00 PM IST

In the inaugural I-League match, Chirag United will take on the Indian Football Federation-owned team AIFF XI. This occasion will also mark the debut of AIFF XI, who has been given a direct entry to the top tier league after Mahindra United opted out and disbanded their team.

Chirag, coming into the match from their glorious Durand Cup victory, will look to take advantage of their opponent’s inexperience and grab all three points from this encounter. Goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal is a certainty in the starting XI. Captain Arnab Mondal will marshal the defensive resources and Chica Wali, Narugopal Haite, Safar Sardar are expected to partner him in the back. Denson Devadas, Nascimento Silviera, Lalkamal Bhowmick and Gouranga Biswas should assume the midfield responsibilities, with Joshimar and Junior playing upfront in the attacking third.

For AIFF XI, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will keep the goal, while Raju Gaikwad, Shouvik Ghosh, Lalrozama Fonai and Inderpreet Singh will form the four man back line. Tirthankar Sarkar, Jewel Raja, Lalrindike Ralte and Milan Singh are expected to feature in the midfield. The attacking responsibility will lie upon Jeje Lalpekhlua and Jagtar Singh. Promising striker Malswamfela will also get a chance to showcase his potential – may be as a second half substitute.

Chirag is expected to win the match and grab three points from this opening tie. AIFF XI players are no doubt talented, but lack of experience can hurt them badly. They will be happy to snatch one point from their first ever I-League match.


TheHardTackle’s Players To watch Out For:

Joshimar Martins – Chirag United
Jewel Raja Shaikh – AIFF XI


TheHardTackle’s Prediction :

Chirag United 2-1 AIFF XI

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JCT FC
v
HAL SC

Gurgaon, 3rd Dec, 2010
3:00 PM IST

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This will be again a debut match for the Bangalore side HAL SC. They are one of the two teams which qualified for the I-League this season. Former Air India midfielder James Singh is their star player, along with the talented and experienced Xavier Vijay Kumar. Vijay was instrumental for HAL in their I-League 2nd division success last season. Nepal international defender Rohit Chand will lead the HAL SC defense, while Nigerian striker Abdulla Hamza will feature in as the lone striker.

JCT have lost quite a few key players in the transfer market. They will be without goalkeeper Karanjit Singh, playmaker Penn Orji and star striker Baljit Singh in this campaign. Yet, they have enough resources in their armor to come out unscathed against the Bangalore side. Moreover they are always a tough nut to crack on their home soil. Midfielder Keke Ibrahim has already proved in the Federation Cup and Durand Cup that he is a versatile talent. Former Lajong FC captain Daniel Bidemi will marshal their defensive resources, while young Balwant Singh and Ajay Singh will shoulder the attacking responsibility.

JCT should be able to clinch three points from this home tie. HAL will look forward to begin their campaign on a positive note, and if they can come out with sharing points from Gurgaon, it will be a moral victory for the newly promoted team.


TheHardTackle’s Players To watch Out For:

Keke Ibrahim – JCT
James Singh – HAL SC


TheHardTackle’s Prediction :

JCT 1-0 HAL SC

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VIVA KERALA
v
SALGAOCAR

Kannur, 3rd Dec, 2010
3:30 PM IST


This will be Viva Kerala’s maiden I-League appearance on their brand new Kannur home turf. They have a very strong defense line-up. Nigerian Bello Razaq, who had a brilliant last season, will be partnered by Ghanaian Charles Dzisah at the heart of Viva defense. After the departure of captain and playmaker M.P.Shakeer, their midfield has become a little weaker, with the only big name being T. Karma. Former Mohun Bagan player Kalia Kulothungan will play in the central midfield, while their attacking line will be led by Nigerian Felix Chimaokwu.

Salgaocar has constructed a strong team under the guidance of high profile coach Karim Bencharifa. Karanjit Singh will be their first choice goalkeeper. Former Churchill man Khelemba Singh, Peter Costa, Rino Anto and Brazilian Luciano Sabrosa will constitute the four man defense. Mohun Bagan discard Japanese midfielder Ryuji Sueoka will partner Tomba Singh in their central midfield. They have a great strike force. Former East Bengal forward Yusif Yakubu, Subhash Singh, Bevan D’Mello, and promising Manipuri Khelemba Thoi Singh are the four top class strikers in Karim’s armor. Yakubu and Subhash are expected to start against Viva.

Salgaocar has a stronger squad on paper, but Viva will be playing in their home soil and their vocal fans will always be supporting them at the top of their voice. This match is expected to be an entertainer with quite a few goals. Salgaocar may just be able to grab three points from this tie.


TheHardTackle’s Players To watch Out For:

Felix Chimaokwo – Viva Kerala
Yusif Yakubu – Salgaocar


TheHardTackle’s Prediction :

Viva Kerala 2-3 Salgaocar

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MUMBAI FC
v
AIR INDIA

Kohlapur, 3rd Dec, 2010
3:30 PM IST


Both the Mumbai teams will be fighting it hard to grab all three points here, which might help them to survive the relegation scare at the end of the campaign. Air India coach Yusuf Ansari has acknowledged the fact that they have no high ambitions from this year’s campaign and their prime motive is to remain in the top tier for another season. Same is the case with Mumbai FC as well.

Both the teams lack star attractions. For Air India, striker Dada Nabeel and midfielder Yusuf Ibrahim will be the players to watch out for. Former East Bengal striker Malswamika and Nigerian Henry Ezeh are the key players for Mumbai FC. Both the coaches will be pleased to share the spoils and get off the mark in opening their accounts.


TheHardTackle’s Players To watch Out For:

Dada Nabeel – Air india
Malswamika – Mumbai FC

TheHardTackle’s Prediction:

Air India 0-1 Mumbai FC

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PUNE FC
v
MOHUN BAGAN

Pune, 3rd Dec, 2010
7:00 PM IST

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Mohun Bagan will take on Pune FC in their first league match, which will be played at Pune’s Chatrapati Shivaji Balewadi Sports Complex under the floodlights. The match is of utmost importance to the Red & Maroon players, after their indifferent show in domestic Kolkata League. Coach Stanley Rozario will look to his famed attacking trio of Barreto-Muritala-Chidi to give him a rollicking start. Shilton Pal is expected to be given the nod ahead of experienced Sangram Mukherjee to guard the goal mouth, even after that costly mistake in last Kolkata derby. Jayanta Sen, Manish Mathani and Snehasish Chakraborty will look to dictate the midfield possession and keep the supply line active for their fearsome striking force.

Pune FC are being dubbed as the dark horse in this campaign. They are an excellent blend of youth and experience raring to go under the guidance of Derrick Pereira. Arata Izumi will be their key man in the midfield. Brazilian Edmar Figuera and former Salgaocar player Mondjou Keita forms an exciting forward line for the Pune based team. Venkatesh, Ajayan and Paresh Shivalkar will shoulder the midfield responsibility with Arata Izumi. Senegal defender Lamine Tamba will lead their defense line.

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For:

Arata Izumi – Pune FC
Jose Barreto – Mohun Bagan

TheHardTackle’s Prediction:

Pune FC 1-1 Mohun Bagan

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EAST BENGAL
v

ONGC FC

Kolkata, 4th Dec, 2010
3:00 PM IST


I-League newbie ONGC FC could not have hoped for a more difficult fixture first up. The 2nd division league Champions are expected to have a difficult time dealing with Federation Cup Champions East Bengal in their very first league match. The Kolkata giants are way ahead of their opponent in terms of quality and they are one of the strong title contenders this season.

Trevor James Morgan is set to miss the services of Indian international players till January, but that should not concern the British coach much. He has a plethora of choices in every department. Although there are injury concerns for the Red & Gold brigade, with defender Naoba Singh and winger Vasum still not being match fit, Morgan has able replacements in Shaikat Saha Roy and Sanju Pradhan. Goalkeeper Sandip Nandy should get a place in the starting XI, while Uga Okpara will partner Shaikat in the central defense. Captain Soumik Dey and Nirmal Chhetri are Morgan’s first choice full backs.

“Double Cylinder” Mehtab Hussain will be playing his usual deep lying playmaker role, with Sanju Pradhan and Sushant Mathew on the wings. Penn Orji will have the “free role” to play, starting just behind the strikers and roaming around every blade of grass on the pitch.  The “Toli-Roli” attacking formation is sure to give ONGC defense a torrid time.

For ONGC the key players will be Nigerian striker combo of Babatunde and N.D.Opara.

East Bengal should be able to breeze through this match and collect full three points to start their campaign on a positive note. On the other hand ONGC will be pleased if they can keep the goal margin respectable.


TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For

Robin Singh – East Bengal
N.D.Opara – ONGC FC

TheHardTackle’s Prediction:

East Bengal 3-0 ONGC

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CHURCHILL BROTHERS
v
DEMPO
SC

Goa, 4th Dec, 2010
3:00 PM IST

The Goan derby is undoubtedly the biggest match in I-League Round-1. Two title contenders will face off against each other in the very first match, and both of them will be ready to fight tooth and nail to get the league started on a positive fashion.

Defending Champions Dempo is coming straight into the match fresh from the Super Cup triumph. Nigerian hit man Ranty Martins is in red hot form, and playmaker Obga Kalu Nanna will look to stamp their authority in the midfield battle. Joaquin Abrahanches will partner Ranty in Dempo’s strike force. In the absence of Subhashish Roy Choudhury, Laxmikanth Kattimani is their current first choice goal keeper. John Dias, Peter Carvalho, Creson Antao, Debrata Roy will form the four men Dempo defense. However, all is not well at Dempo brigade at this moment. Brazilian playmaker Roberto Silva is reportedly having a cold war with coach Armado Colaco. He even asked for a release and gave a written notice to club chairman Mr. Srinivasan.

Churchill Brothers may have lost a few key players in the transfer window, but still they are a force to reckon with. I-League’s top scorer for last three consecutive seasons, Odafa Okolie, will again be leading the Goan powerhouse on the battle field. Khemtang Paite and former Viva Kerala playmaker M.P.Shakeer will marshal Churchill’s midfield. Rival coaches will keep a close eye on their new Cameroonian striker Ernest Emako-Siankam.

This being the first match of the campaign, both the teams will start cautiously and will not go in with an attacking mindset. In terms of squad strength, both the teams are equally strong with a few prove match winners in their ranks.It’s going to be a cagey affair and both the coaches will be content to share one point each from this match.


TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For:

Odafa Okolie – Churchill
Ranty Martins – Dempo

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TheHardTackle’s Prediction:

Churchill 1-1 Dempo

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  • Ramachandra Bhat

    wow dat’s gr8. you hv got most of d predictions ri8. 6 out of 7. impressive :)

  • Satinder Pal Singh

    I can neither find Round II preview nor any live update link for today’s matches. I hope you guys are doing the live commentary for today’s matches.

  • Somnath

    Preview is now available :)