Dempo Reign Supreme In First Goa Derby

Picturesque Paljor Stadium in Sikkim

Defending Champions Dempo SC grabbed the bragging rights over local rivals Churchill Brothers after producing a fine display of total football to out-perform Subhash Bhowmick’s boys 2-1 in the first Goan Derby of the new season. Japanese recruit Ryuji Sueoka gave the Goan Blues an early lead in the second minute of the match after Clifford Miranda’s cross in to the Churchill box deceived Sandip Nandy and Sueoka did not make any mistake to put the Blues ahead.

Churchill restored parity a minute after the half time breather. Beto completed a simple tap in to nullify Sueoka’s early strike after Tomba Singh’s venomous long range scorcher was fisted away by Subhashish Roy Chowdhury. The game was brought back to life with that equalizer and the Fatorda crowd witnessed an end-to-end action-packed thriller thereafter. With around 15 minutes remaining for the long whistle, it was Sueoka again who restored Dempo’s one goal advantage by slotting the ball home from a cross by Anthony Pereira – which in the end proved to be the decisive goal.

Sikkim Shock For Salgaocar

The newly promoted North-Eastern outfit, patronaged by Indian football icon Baichung Bhutia, began their maiden I-League campaign in style by staging a huge upset win over 2010-11 I-League Champions Salgaocar FC. The match also marked a new chapter for the football crazy tinsel town of Gangtok as they successfully organized their first ever I-League Division-1 match in the picturesque Paljor Stadium. After an unproductive first half, the Goan Greens drew the first blood with new foreign recruit Angel Guirado finding the back of the net in the 50th minute. Phillipe de Ridder’s men responded within two minutes with a brilliant goal. Budhiram Tudu made a stunning run of 20 yards from the middle of the park before unleashing a powerful right footer, which was parried away by Karanjit Singh only to see Salau Nurudeen capitalize on the rebound – which is incidentally United Sikkim’s first ever goal in I-League.

Karim Bencharifa’s men then took the lead once again in the 56th minute through Milagres Gonsalves. However, United Sikkim refused to be bogged down. Boosted by a 12,000 strong boisterous home crowd, left winger Lineker Machado helped the Snow Lions claw their way back in to the match for the second time with a superb strike in the 64th minute. Ten minutes later, defender Sandesh Jhingan sent the home fans in to frenzy by expertly heading home a Ashish Chhetri free kick. For the remaining quarter of an hour’s play, the Lions defended with grit and determination to ensure all three points from their debut match in top-flight Indian football League.

End of Road For Santosh Kashyap?

Mohun Bagan’s woes are refusing to die down even at the turn of a new season. After a nightmarish Federation Cup campaign, Santosh Kashyap’s men went down to minnows Shillong Lajong FC in their opening match of 2012-13 I-League. Lajong, under the guidance of Desmond Bulpin, played an effective and strategic game to blank their much fancied rivals by 2-0 margin. The famed Odafa-Tolgay combo of Bagan failed to produce the anticipated magic as Lajong rode on the heroics of their young goalkeeper Ralte Lalthuammawia to begin their campaign in style.

After a barren first 45 minutes, Boithang Haokip gave the Meghalaya side lead in the 63rd minute by slotting the ball in Arindam Bhattacharya’s net from Sushil Kumar Singh’s corner. After conceding the goal, the Mariners went all out in attacking mode and Lajong took advantage of gaps in Mohun Bagan defense to double the lead through Lalramluaha Hmar few minutes before final whistle with a quick counter attack.

The loss has also put a question mark over Santosh Kashyap’s ability to manage a star-studded squad. His tactical acumen has also come under scrutiny. A few Bagan officials have openly criticized Kashyap’s lack of vision and rumors are being floated around of the coach being sacked. Unless there is a change of fortune when Mohun Bagan take on Prayag United in their round-2 game, in all likelihood, it will be curtains for the former Indian football international’s Mohun Bagan sojourn.

Mumbai FC Derailed By Arrows Young Turks

Arthur Papas deserves a lot of credit for instilling self-belief in the hearts of Pailan Arrows youngsters and transforming them from being a punching bag to fierce competitors. After the inspirational Federation Cup campaign, Arrows produced another display of character and skill to edge out Mumbai FC by 3-2 margin in their opening I-League encounter. Young Assamese sensation Holicharan Narzary scored a brilliant brace to establish himself as the main architect behind this memorable win against a side who boosts of having quality players like ND Opara and Yusif Yakubu on their ranks.

Narzary’s 34th minute strike was promptly cancelled out by ND Opara within five minutes and Mumbai FC looked to have seized the initiative with a James Singh strike moments before the half time whistle. However, the young brigade restored parity in the 54th minute when skipper Milan Singh converted from the spot after Mumbai FC stopper Justine Stephen had brought down Pranoy Haldar inside the area. Holicharan Narzary, taking advantage of a faulty clearance by Mumbai FC goalie Sanjiban Ghosh, ensured his side all three points with around fifteen minutes remaining on the clock.

Sporting Goa Hold East Bengal To A Goal-less Draw

Sporting Clube de Goa managed to hold Federation Cup Champions East Bengal to a goal-less draw in a match which witnessed some unbelievable misses from the Red-&-Gold strikers. Trevor James Morgan’s side had unquestionable dominance on the proceedings at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Margao, but Chidi Edeh, Manandeep Singh and Robin Singh kept on misfiring throughout the match to gift a point to the Flaming Oranjes – who deserves credit for the gritty defensive display.

It’s certainly not the start a Red-&-Gold faithful was hoping for, but nonetheless they are content with a point secured from this trip to Goa when most of their rivals – Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers and Salgaocar FC returned empty-handed. Incidentally, it was Sporting Goa who had shared the spoils with East Bengal in the opening match of 2012-13 Federation Cup – a trophy which was eventually won by the Red-&-Golds, and the loyal Laal-Holud supporters reckon that a similar result against the same opponent in I-League opener will actually proved to be a good omen in their bid to win the league title.

Ranti Martins Answered Critics With A Hat-trick

Star Nigerian striker Ranti Martins, the most expensive player in I-League at the moment, was heavily criticized for his lackluster performance in Federation Cup, with a few even questioning whether he actually deserves such an insane amount of money or not. Ranti refused to verbally react to those allegations and choose to answer the cynics on the field instead. The two times I-League Golden Boot winner pumped in three past Air India goal-line to notch up the first hat-trick of the season.

Ranti drew the first blood for the Kolkata outfits within first quarter of an hour’s play but Sanjoy Sen’s army were soon relegated to battle it out with just 10 men as Bello Razzaq received marching orders for a foul on Henry Ezeh. Mickey Fernandes immediately restored parity for the Airmen by deceiving Sangram Mukherjee with the resultant free-kick, much to the agony of the spectators in Yuvabharati Krirangan, Kolkata. However Ranti Martins was in no mood to spoil the mood of Prayag supporters ahead of the festive season as he expertly converted from a Deepak Mondal cross to regain Prayag’s one goal cushion.

Ranti completed his hat-trick on the verge of the clock ticking to an hour mark with a powerful left-footer from the edge of the box and Asif K made it 4-1 seven minutes later before C.K. Vineeth hammered a fifth nail in the Durand Cup winners’ coffin around 80th minute mark to make the score-line look embarrassing for Godfrey Pereira’s boys.

Pune FC Scrape Past ONGC

The Red Lizards were made to sweat hard to conjure up a narrow 3-2 win against the newly promoted Institutional outfit ONGC FC. Jeje Lalpekhlua converted from the spot to draw first blood in the 22nd minute before Subhash Singh made it 2-0 in favor of Derrick Pereira mentored outfit by the 48th minute mark. ONGC staged a gutsy comeback to make it 2-2 with the help of two outstanding goals from veteran Jatin Bist and Japanese attacking midfielder Katsumi Yusa. However old warhorse Shanmugam Venkatesh combined well with Douhou Perreira and slotted the ball home around 70th minute mark to earn all three points for the home side.

TheHardTackle’s Dream Team (Round-1)

Formation: 3-5-2

Goalkeeper: Lalthuammawia Ralte (Lajong FC);

Defenders: Deepak Moldal (Prayag United, Samananda Singh (Sporting Goa), Soumik Dey (East Bengal);

Midfielders: Boithang Haokip (Lajong FC), Carlos Hernandez (Prayag United), Bikramjit Singh (Churchill Brothers), Ryuiji Sueoka (Dempo SC), Lineker Machado (United Sikkim);

Forwards:  Ranti Martins (Prayag United), Holicharan Narzary (Pailan Arrows).


  • Soumik Pal

    Nice review and good selection of players too.

  • Nishant

    I think more Indian Arrows players should have made it to the Dream Team. Avinabo Bag and Milan Singh were too good vs MFC. Also Naoba Singh would be my pick to replace Deepak Mondal in this team. He has performed very well.

  • Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Wishing our footballers and fans a successful 2012-2013 football season.