Just look at the Indian Super League table and you’ll see that today’s match was the David vs. Goliath match of the fledgling ISL.
Chennaiyin FC the league leaders and the in-form team of the moment take on Northeast United FC, the team at the foot of the table.
Before the match, Head Coach of Northeast United FC, Ricki Herbert, promised that his side will have a go at Chennaiyin FC. He seemed to have followed through on his promise as there were 4 changes to Northeast United’s starting line-up.
In came Boithang Haokip, Guilherme Felipe de Castro, Massamba Lo Sambou, and Durga Boro for Aiborlang Khongjee, Robin Gurung, Do Dong Hyun, and Isaac Chansa. Marco Materazzi decided to rest Bojan Djordjic and Mikael Silvestre and replaced them with Jean Eudes Maurice and Jairo Andres Suarez Carvajal.
Northeast United FC Open Scoring Quickly
Not surprisingly, Northeast United did start in a more attacking manner and put Chennaiyin FC on the back foot who decided to focus on counterattacking.
They were camped in Chennaiyin FC’s box and you could see that they had a do or die attitude about the game. They had nothing to lose and they were playing like it. Their brilliant attacking play yielded results soon enough.
The goal was scored in the 10th minute and was a result of a lucky ricochet of the ball. However, it’s not like Northeast United didn’t deserve it because they did.
The cross came in Djemba-Djemba headed it out but it hit the back of the head of another Northeast United FC. The ball dropped fortuitously to Durga who put it beyond the onrushing keeper into the bottom corner. Chennaiyin FC players looked shell-shocked. Northeast United FC 1 – 0 Chennaiyin FC.
Chennaiyin FC Rattled By the 2nd Goal
Northeast United FC upped the ante even further after another 10 minutes and scored their 2nd goal of the game.
After camping firmly in the Chennaiyin FC box and throwing balls in left, right, and centre, they finally struck gold with a cross from the left flank.
The ball came in from a freekick and it was a good one. Massamba rose and put the ball in the far corner. A Chennaiyin FC defender tried to clear the ball but could only put it into the roof of the net. Chennaiyin FC players were rattled. Northeast United FC 2 – 0 Chennaiyin FC.
Northeast United FC All but Insure Their 3 Points
Four minutes later, in the 23rd minute, Massamba struck again. The freekick again came in from the left side and found Massamba’s towering head. He powered one devastating header into the far side of the net. Chennaiyin FC heads were dropping. Northeast United FC 3 – 0 Chennaiyin FC.
Chennaiyin FC were slow, sluggish, and aimless till the 35th minute. It’s only about that time that they started realising that more than half the match is left. They did pick up their game a little then. Still, they couldn’t really do anything useful and kept undoing their work by giving the ball away.
Twice, Northeast United FC’s striker got free with only the keeper to beat. The 1st time, the keeper saved well and the 2nd time Bernard Mendy deflected the shot. The rest of the half petered out.
A Toothless Display from Chennaiyin FC in the Second Half
Chennaiyin FC seemed calmer in the second half and even had the ball in the net via Cristian Hindalgo Gonzalez.
Unfortunately, he was in an offside position and the goal didn’t count. If the first half was thrilling and full of action, the second half was a drab affair.
Marco Materazzi tried to change the complexion of the game with substitutions but the people he brought on couldn’t do much. The game was mired in midfield and everything was interrupted which is probably what Northeast United FC wanted in the first place.
Things did look up for Chennaiyin FC when the referee gave Joan Capdevila his second yellow card. The first yellow card came in the first half when he deliberately handled the ball. This one came when he raised his hand to Maurice’s face. Both were unnecessary and not the kind of thing you expect from someone who has as much experience as he does.
The sad bit is that Chennaiyin FC couldn’t really take advantage of their one man advantage. They looked utterly, completely, entirely, hopelessly toothless in the game. While their qualification for the knockout stage isn’t really in question for me, if they want to win the semis and the final then they’ll need to somehow get Elano back.
It’s not the end of the world for Chennaiyin FC from any perspective though. In hindsight, I think Materazzi understands that his team is lacking many key players. This is probably why his comments were so sober and measured in his pregame press conference.
Another Bottom Team Proves Everyone Wrong
From the Northeast United FC angle, I believe this is what you call the “commentator’s curse”? This is the second time I’ve been proven wrong by a team at the bottom of the table after I said that they’re finished. The last was Delhi Dynamos FC.
To be fair, no one could’ve predicted what Northeast United FC would do. They literally pulled the German blitzkrieg on Chennaiyin FC. I say literally because the German blitzkrieg was all about aerial firepower and that’s what Northeast United FC’s win was based on.