Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and former Chelsea FC striker Hernan Crespo were the winners on the first day of Premier Futsal, as their Mumbai and K0lkata sides came out victorious against Chennai and Goa.
The much-anticipated tournament kicked off with Mumbai 5s taking on Chennai 5s in Chennai, on Friday. While the Mumbai side starred ex-Manchester United player and coach Ryan Giggs, Chennai had the vastly experienced Brazilian futsal legend Falcao in their ranks.
However, it was Mumbai who shot into the lead, as Foglia converted a penalty after the ball was handled in the Chennai area, in the first quarter. Mumbai doubled their advantage in the second quarter, as Angellot slotted the ball in.
The game was finally put beyond Chennai’s reach, as Kevin Ramirez scored in the third quarter, to make the score 4-0 in Mumbai’s favour. Chennai did manage to get themselves back in the game with Falcao and Filho scoring in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late for them.
Mohammed Islam makes Indian futsal history
The second match of Premier Futsal kicked off another rivalry between Goa and Kolkata — this time, on a futsal pitch. It was Kolkata who came out victorious in the end, and they too, won their match by a 4-2 margin.
Kolkata shot into an early lead, as Pula and Mohammed Islam scored to put them 2-0 ahead in the first quarter. Incidentally, Islam made history as he became the first Indian player to score in Premier Futsal.
While the second quarter went goalless, the match burst into life in the third, as Rafael pulled one goal back for Goa. However, it took Kolkata only three minutes to restore their two goal lead, as Crespo made it 3-1. That lead did not last long though, as Goa scored again in the last minute of the third quarter, as Santos made the most of some poor defending, to take the score to 3-2 in Kolkata’s favour.
However, the Kolkatans secured the match in the fourth quarter, as a Marshall own goal gave them a 4-2 lead at the end of the fourth quarter.
Atletico de Kolkata unveil Jose Molina as new head coach
Former Indian Super League (ISL) champions Atletico de Kolkata held their first press conference with their new head coach Jose Molina on Friday. The 45-year-old Spaniard is an inspirational figure in Spanish football, as he had to fight cancer during his playing days.
“Your past experience always helps you in your life. I’ve gone through a difficult phase and overcome it,” Molina was quoted as saying in Kolkata-based newspaper The Telegraph. “The spirit always helps you as a person in your life. Hopefully, I can inspire the team to win again,”
Molina, who had previously played at top La Liga clubs like Valencia and Atletico Madrid, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2002, when he was playing at Deportivo la Coruna. Although he had an operation back then, his cancer resurfaced, forcing him into premature retirement. However, it took Molina just three months to make a comeback into football.
The Spaniard replaces his compatriot Antonio Lopez Habas as the head coach of ATK, after the latter spent two seasons at the franchise. Habas has now moved on to ISL rivals FC Pune City. In his first press conference as an ATK coach, Molina stressed on the importance of playing an attacking brand of football.
“I have in my mind as how to go about the task. I will look for victory in every match. The month-long camp will begin in Madrid on August 22,” he said. “I want to play attacking football. The focus is to play aggressive football and be an aggressive team. But we should look for the right balance between attack and defence.”
India top dogs in South Asia
India moved up 11 places in the FIFA rankings, to the 152nd spot, as they became the highest ranked team from South Asia. The Blue Tigers gained 49 points last month, after back-to-back 6-1 and 1-0 victories over Laos, in the 2019 Asia Cup qualifiers.
Surprisingly, India gained these victories with a relatively young side. Thechanges in the FIFA rankings mean that India are now the highest ranked side in South Asia.
Interestingly, the Blue Tigers were also among the four best movers in Asia, with Tajikistan being the biggest gainers this month, moving up 19 places, to be ranked 149th in the world. Iran (39) still remain the best team in Asia, followed by the Korea Republic (48), and Uzbekistan (56).