After yesterday’s great Battle of Cellar which saw the rebirth of the team from the hippie city*, today’s match was going to be a different beast entirely.
I was looking forward to the top of the table clash of Atletico De Kolkata vs. Chennaiyin FC. At the same time, it’s worth mentioning that neither of the teams involved was in form.
Chennaiyin FC started this match after having drawn their last 3 matches while Atletico De Kolkata had drawn two and lost one in their last 3 matches. So, these were supposedly the heavyweights of the Indian Super League that had been playing badly.
I should add that before the game began Atletico De Kolkata had the upper hand. By the virtue of a better goal difference and same number of points, they only needed to draw to retain the top spot on the table. In addition, they were also playing at home, which is always an advantage (even though it’s not such a big deal in India).
Along with this, Kolkata were more rested than Chennaiyin because they were playing after one week while this was Chennaiyin’s third game in a week. Still, it was a tasty affair, this one. After all, it was Elano vs. Luis Garcia.
Quality vs. Quality; Atletico De Kolkata vs. Chennaiyin FC
In the first half, Chennaiyin unveiled a surprise. Materazzi chose to play himself in the position in which he made a name for himself – centre back. Each team also made 2 changes to their starting line-ups for this game.
The game’s first interesting moment came from Mendoza who, I expect to do well in this game. He bustled through two defenders to latch onto a through ball.
His cross didn’t amount to much but it was good work from the spry forward. The match was clearly between two of the better teams in the league on the evidence of their gameplay.
Both teams were displaying why they’re at the top of the table in the first 20 minutes. Fikru had a wonderful chance from a wonderfully intricate move dominated by single touches and subsequent runs. However, soon after, the game turned into a turnover fest with both teams giving away possession in quick succession.
At 36 minutes, the lights went out in the stadium and the match was paused by the referee for about 10 to 15 minutes. Maybe the players could revisit their childhood now and play dark room or ice bice… or an even more entertaining game footballers could play is goldspot**.
A moment that old India would’ve been proud of but as a citizen of the new India, I found that quite embarrassing. Come on, the babus of Kolkata! The whole world is watching these matches. We are 9th in the world in terms of our average attendance; we have people from Europe and South America following these matches, we are supposed to be the next big thing in world economy, and we can’t keep our lights on. Have some pride! Bah!
When the match restarted, it restarted at the same point it was stopped in terms of time as well as personality i.e. repeated turnovers. Chennaiyin threatened again from Elano’s header which Kolkata’s keeper saved well. And, that was the first half.
Fikru Gets Intimate With Materazzi the Mafioso
The second half started with Materazzi teaching Fikru who’s the boss. You’ve got to appreciate the heart of Fikru because it takes a lot to go up against Materazzi and he’s been doing it in more ways than one since the first half.
In this incident, Materazzi managed to bloody Fikru and he was yellow carded for it. I must point out that little tiff was nothing new in this game. The game had been progressively heating up till then and it just boiled over with that incident.
The teams traded blows for a good while but neither team could work the keeper. Atletico De Kolkata’s Fikru then won a freekick outside the Chennaiyin FC penalty box and complained profusely thinking that he should’ve gotten a penalty. He was wrong and was lucky to even get a freekick.
The tackle came outside the box and Silvestre got the ball. Luis Garcia stepped up and dished up a gorgeous freekick. He rapped the crossbar but it was fair that he didn’t score because the freekick shouldn’t have been given in the first place. By the way, Habas the Henchman had a fit about the freekick that shouldn’t have been.
Materazzi & Chennaiyin FC Win the Courage Award
Materazzi made an interesting substitution then. He took off Silvestre, a defender, for Djordjic, a midfielder. Djemba-Djemba moved into the defence because of that. Isn’t Djemba-Djemba too short to be a central defender?
As if that wasn’t enough, he then took himself off and brought on Maurice. Maurice is a striker! Oh, and another midfielder Djordjic, was dropped into defence because of this change. Highly unconventional from Materazzi. All-out attack!
It seemed to have worked as Balwant Singh turned in a cross which came out of good work from Maurice. However, instead of a goal Balwant got a yellow card for handball. There was no intent from Balwant. He didn’t deserve a yellow card. Whether he deserved a goal or not is something I can’t decide myself.
Chennaiyin FC continued to attack and deserve the Courage Award for it. They didn’t stop attacking till the final whistle and were very close to scoring 2 to 3 times. They proved the idiom, ‘offense is the best defence’ in this game. Wonderful belief and desire to get 3 points.
That was it though. FC Pune must be celebrating this result because they can now go top of the table tomorrow when they take on Northeast United FC.
*FC Goa beat Delhi Dynamos FC.
**It’s an old game that I played in my childhood and teenhood. In simplest of terms, the objective is to jump on each other’s shoes with a single leap. Now, imagine this game with studs. Positively, evil don’t you think so?