Confusing number game

"Well, i would like that to be 100 per cent clear. I look at the rules and it says you've got to have five Indians on the pitch at all times but what happens if you had a man (Indian) sent off and you had used all your substitutions," asks Peter Taylor (above), the Kerala blasters' coach.-PICS: ISL/ SPORTZPICS "Well, i would like that to be 100 per cent clear. I look at the rules and it says you've got to have five Indians on the pitch at all times but what happens if you had a man (Indian) sent off and you had used all your substitutions," asks Peter Taylor (above), the Kerala blasters' coach.

Head-butting is big news in football, but the substitutions that followed after an Indian player, Baljit Sahni, was given the marching orders during the recent ISL clash between FC Goa and Atletico de Kolkata in Margoa also made headlines.

The ISL rules say that there should be a maximum of six foreigners and a minimum of five Indian players on the field during matches in the league. So, when Kolkata’s Sahni was sent off for head-butting Goa’s Gregory Arnolin, there was confusion over the number of Indians left on the field.

Peter Taylor, Kerala Blasters’ head coach, is still not clear about it.

“Well, I would like that to be 100 per cent clear. I look at the rules and it says you’ve got to have five Indians on the pitch at all times but what happens if you had a man (Indian) sent off and you had used all your substitutions,” asked Taylor, the former England and Bahrain gaffer.

“It’s not clear. It’s a very good rule but maybe there should be something in it… that if you have a man sent off it’s impossible to do that. Not easy but you’ve got to work this one out.”

FC Goa coach Zico has made it clear that he wants a sturdy star player - one who will be able to hold his own for the entire 90 minutes. He believes that Lucio (above, in blue jersey) is the man. Early signs indicate that Zico has made a wise decision. Lucio played as centre-back in the opening tie against Delhi dynamos and excelled in his new role.-

Michael Andrews, a former AFC and FIFA referees assessor and a match commissioner on the ISL panel, explained the rule:

“There should be a minimum of five Indians on the field but if an Indian is given the marching orders, the guy who has gone out will be considered as the fifth Indian on the field. That is what the ISL competition rules say.”

Star-struck star

Alia Bhatt says her first meeting with superstar Rajnikanth at the ISL opener in Chennai left her star-struck.

“It was for the first time that I was meeting him. I was star-struck... I was shaking. But I was very excited. It was amazing meeting him,” she said.

“He is a warm and down-to-earth person. I met him on stage and everyone was very excited,” she added.

When asked if she was open to star opposite Rajnikanth in a film, Alia said, “Depends on what role it is. I could be playing his daughter.”

Besides Rajnikanth, Alia also met Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai at the ISL Opening Ceremony.

“We all...me, Amit ji, Aishwarya, Abhishek... sitting in one room...one box watching the game, it was nice. We were rooting for Chennai,” she said.

Spirit of football on rails

In a first-of-its-kind effort to spread the spirit of football across the city, Mumbai City FC players will ride with millions of Mumbaikars, with branded bogies along the Central, Western and Harbour railway lines. With display branding across multiple trains on all three crucial lifelines of the Mumbai railway network, fans will now get to see their home team players, greet them at multiple stations throughout the second edition of the ISL. The football stars will adorn 36 panels on each line and will reach over to seven million fans daily. The train branding will feature players such as Nicolas Anelka, Subrata Paul, Sunil Chhetri, Ashutosh Mehta and Keegan Pereira. Mumbai City FC’s message ‘Jahaan Dhadakte Hai 2 crore Dil’ is one that resonates with every Mumbaikar who is a Mumbai City FC fan, and feels a part of the larger journey as the team battle it out for the coveted ISL trophy.

On this exciting new initiative, team owner of Mumbai City FC, Ranbir Kapoor, said, “The local train is Mumbai’s lifeline. It makes the city what it is. Our club logo, in fact, features a local train and signifies the role it plays in every Mumbaikar’s life. The branding of these trains is our little way of paying tribute to the railways and connecting with the lifeline of the city.”

All about staying power

The sultry Goan weather can get to you. The temperatures, at worst, can hover around 40 degrees, and the high humidity can make things even more uncomfortable. The playing conditions at such times, no doubt, take a heavy toll on the players. In the inaugural season, FC Goa’s marquee player, Robert Pires, clearly felt the heat. His movements on the field were laboured, and he was rendered ineffective by younger, fitter opponents.

The Frenchman, then 40, was an exhausted figure at the post-match press conferences. Sweating profusely and requiring re-hydration breaks during the interview, he spoke plainly about the Goa weather. “It is very hot and humid here. It is almost impossible to play,” he stated.

Roberto Carlos in action against FC Goa. "I'm 42, and I competed for a full 45 minutes. If I start, I might get a heart attack. So calm down; let's be realistic," said the former Brazil World Cup winner when asked if he would start in Delhi Dynamos' coming matches.-

Coach Zico, meanwhile, watched and took mental notes.

Cut to the new season, and Pires is no longer around. He has been replaced by Brazil World Cup winner Lucio.

Zico has made it clear that he wants a sturdy star player — one who will be able to hold his own for the entire 90 minutes. He believes that Lucio — at 37, not much younger than Pires — is the man.

Early signs indicate that Zico has made a wise decision. Lucio played as centre-back in the opening tie against Delhi Dynamos, at home, and excelled in his new role. The burly defender thwarted attack after attack and never once appeared to tire. The now friendly weather had to do a lot with it too, with the encounter at the Fatorda Stadium held in mild rain.

Delhi, meanwhile, benefited from the pleasant setting as well. Marquee player-cum-manager Roberto Carlos brought himself on at the start of the second half, and displayed brisk pace. Asked if fans can expect him to start in coming matches, Carlos replied, “I’m 42, and I competed for a full 45 minutes. If I start, I might get a heart attack. So calm down; let’s be realistic.” This evoked laughter in the media room.

Dedicating victory to Bachchan

The Chennaiyin FC coach, Marco Materazzi, dedicated his side’s 4-0 win over FC Goa in a third round match of the ISL to the Bollywood superstar, Amitabh Bachchan, the father of Chennaiyin FC’s co-owner Abhishek.

“It was a fantastic win, my boys combined as a team. I have worked on our previous mistakes and made four changes and it worked well,” Materazzi said after the match.

"It was a fantastic win, my boys combined as a team. I have worked on our previous mistakes and made four changes and it worked well," said Materazzi (above), while reflecting on Chennaiyin's win against FC Goa. He then dedicated the victory to the bollywood superstar, Amitabh Bachchan.-

“I dedicate the victory to Mr. (Amitabh) Bachchan as well as my players,” Materazzi said about the superstar, who turned 73 on October 11.

Talking further about his side’s comprehensive win, the Italian said, “We started with the right attitude and kept the same throughout the match which helped us to create so many chances. Unlike in the last two matches, today we had the right understanding between defenders, midfielders and the strikers which helped us in our win.

The FC Goa coach, Zico, was disappointed that his team failed to put up the same kind of performance they had displayed in the last two matches.

“Our opponents out-beat us in all department and we have to work on our mistakes and keep our head high to play better in the upcoming matches,” he said.

Stan Rayan, Ashwin Achal & Agencies