An impeccable show from the men of steel saw Jamshedpur FC stun Hyderabad FC as the Manuel Marquez-coached side went down fighting on a Saturday goalfest.
Fans drove into the sprawling Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad to witness the home team score another win in its last league game. But as the evening progressed, Jamshedpur, despite being reduced to 10 men, ambushed the yellow outfit to hand the home side its fourth defeat of the season.
A sense of disappointment was writ large on the face of the coach and the players, and it was a wake-up call for Hyderabad ahead of the knockouts. The home side qualified for the playoffs for the second time-in-a-row and much credit goes to the coach, who is considered to be one of the best manager in the Indian Super League.
Having taken charge of a team that was languishing at the bottom of the league, Marquez guided Hyderabad to the 2022 ISL title. Marquez showed his coaching credentials straightaway on arrival in the first season as the team climbed up the ladder, but it narrowly missed the playoffs by just two points. The second season saw the Spaniard employ brilliant tactics and usher in young Indian footballers to the forefront and capture the ISL crown.
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Despite the setback against Jamshedpur, the defending champion has the potential to complete a double with Marquez at the helm.
If one ignores the potholes on the path, it was a decent ride to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for Chennaiyin FC’s last game of the season against NorthEast United FC. Summer hasn’t got to its peak in the city yet, and there was pleasant sea breeze.
As the match was a dead rubber, fans trickled in slowly. The only noise apart from traffic in the stadium surroundings was the title track of the Kamal Haasan movie, Vikram, blasting from the speakers inside.
The diary spotted a family of three. The father and the son were busy getting their faces painted with the Chennaiyin colours of blue and yellow. What followed was more than an interesting conversation.
“We are coming from Kerala,” said Ajay, the father. “We are Kerala Blasters fans first, but I often come here to watch Chennaiyin matches with my family,” he added. His wife Ansiya was busy wiping the excess face paint from her son’s face.
When asked about his favourite Chennaiyin player, Ajay said, “I have no favourites. I like watching Chennaiyin play. Tamil Nadu and Kerala are like brothers.”
About Kerala’s chances this season, Ajay said he expects nothing less than the ISL title. As the family prepared to leave for their designated gate, Ajay’s son, Adit suddenly burst out, “I love [Adrian]Luna,” which invited a chuckle from his parents.