Chennai is not known to experience winter in its truest sense. But, as the diary cruised past the Marina Beach on his way to the Nehru Stadium, he could feel a nip in the air, which marks a period of post-summer relief for the city. The release of a Vijay film too added a touch of festive flair to the city, which was already in an upbeat mood after India beat Australia in its ODI World Cup encounter at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. It was a pleasant sight to watch the locals groove to music from Vijay’s latest release, Leo.
Now, the city waits eagerly for Chennaiyin FC to build momentum after a rocky start in the current ISL campaign. The Marina Machans were playing Punjab FC in their second home match of the season. Having secured their first win of the season against Hyderabad FC, Owen Coyle’s men were desperate to give the home crowd a reason to cheer. And they did.
Chennaiyin, in a display of complete dominance, thrashed Punjab 5-1, with captain Rafael Crivellaro bagging a goal and two assists.
One might expect the home crowd to be lenient towards a former player, but that was not the case when Punjab defender Melroy Assisi’s malicious two-footed tackle sent CFC forward Rahim Ali writhing in pain. The foul was met with loud jeers, which quickly turned to cheers as Assisi saw a straight red.
From there on, it was cruise control for Chennaiyin FC, much to the delight of the boisterous crowd!
“It is a good win, but it is too soon to say anything. Owen Coyle is a good coach, but the team needs to be prepared for better opponents,” said lifelong CFC fan Gautham, as the chants of ‘Chennaiyin FC, the pride of Tamil Nadu’ echoed in the background.
Cleiton and the penalty fiasco
Cleiton Silva represents the best of Brazilian flair to the East Bengal fans, a large number of whom root for the Selecao when they are watching international football. Cleiton, who did a fist-up celebration after scoring a goal last season to pay tribute to his hero, Pele, had a subpar game at home against the Kerala Blasters.
Looking for an equaliser after conceding an early goal at home in Salt Lake Stadium, East Bengal earned a penalty late in the second half (83rd minute). Cleiton, the captain, stepped up to take the attempt from the spot. Much to the surprise of the East Bengal fans, the Brazilian striker hit a weak penalty, and the Blasters’ goalkeeper Sachin Suresh rightly anticipated and dived to his left to make a perfect save.
The assistant referee indicated that Suresh came out of the line before Celiton had taken the shot, and the referee ordered the penalty to be retaken. This was not the end of the drama, as the veteran of many battles, Cleiton, appeared a bundle of nerves and let fly a feeble attempt. Sachin judged it correctly again and flew to his right to block the attempt. The rebound fell in Cleiton’s way, but the Brazilian appeared to be so upset with himself that he shot it over to send the home fans to the depths of despair.
A little after this, the Kerala Blasters made it 2-0 to literally take the game away from East Bengal. The home side earned another (for the third time) penalty in the final minute of injury time, and Cleiton found the target from the spot this time to end the jinx. The rectification process did not help East Bengal much, as it crashed to its third consecutive loss, the second on the trot at home.
“I am happy that Cleiton took the penalty because it shows that he’s here for the team as a captain. We have to accept that we can all make mistakes.
And in the end, he is working with the right attitude. And finally, he got it right. So, the message is to not give up,” explained East Bengal’s Spanish coach, Carles Cuadrat, after the match.
Aneesh Dey & Amitabha Das Sharma
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