Hyderabad scripts history, makes it to the semifinal
It was Manolo Marquez’s two strikers – high flying Bartholomew Ogbeche and super-sub Javier Siverio on whose shoulders Hyderabad FC reached its first-ever semifinal after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Kerala Blasters. With the win, Hyderabad FC remained on top of the league table after yet another game week with 35 points from 18 games so far, making it the frontrunner for the league Winner’s Shield as well.
ISL welcomes crowd in its bid to normalcy after two years
The ISL is set to feature fans for the first time in two years when the final of the 2021-22 season is held in Goa on March 20.
The final will be held at the PJN Stadium in Margao, concluding the football league that started in November 2021. As per a State government notification, last issued on January 23, “public gatherings shall be restricted to a maximum of 50 per cent of venue capacity,” which means a crowd attendance of around 9,500 is expected.
Greg Stewart continues to be Jamshedpur’s lynchpin
Four goals and two assists in three matches in the run-up to the semifinal was a statement itself for former Rangers man Greg Stewart, as Jamshedpur cemented its position in the top four. Jamshedpur FC feared debilitation when the former Golden Boot winner Nerijus Valskis left the club.
However, the attacking prowess has been handled well by the Scotsman, who has the highest goal contributions (10 goals and 8 assists).
Pereyra Diaz penalised but let off after a written apology
Kerala Blasters’ striker Jorge Pereyra Diaz was charged by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Disciplinary Committee for ‘violent conduct’ in the match against ATK Mohun Bagan on February 19.
However, the Argentine apologised in writing for ‘not only acting in a manner which is unbecoming of a professional footballer, but also jeopardising the club’s interests and reputation’, following which he was let off and marked his return with two goals against Chennaiyin FC.
Ogbeche, the goal machine
The race for the Golden Boot has had the Nigerian forward in front for a long time, but a suspension, followed by two goals by Igor Angulo, the Golden Boot Winner last season, seemed to make the competition tight. When Ogbeche took to the field, that contest was put to bed as he scored five goals, including a hat-trick against NorthEast United FC.
With the goals, not only did he cement his throne this season, but also went past Indian forward Sunil Chhetri, who had briefly surpassed him as the highest goal scorer in the history of ISL. He currently has 52 goals against Chhetri’s 50 goals so far.
ATK Mohun Bagan’s Prabir Das fined, Khabra’s hearing awaited
The AIFF Disciplinary Committee fined ATK Mohun Bagan’s Prabir Das Rs. 50,000 for ‘violent conduct’ in a match against Kerala Blasters FC.
The committee found the automatic one-match ban sufficient and decided not to impose any further punishment.
Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters’ Harmanjot Singh Khabra was charged with a similar offence in Kerala’s match against Hyderabad FC. He has apologised for his actions in writing to the committee.
Jhingan gets in trouble after sexist rant, apologises
ATK Mohun Bagan and India defender Sandesh Jhingan was embroiled in a controversy for his rant following ATKMB’s 2-2 draw against Kerala Blasters. He was heard saying, “ Auraton ke saath match khel aaya hoon, auraton ke saath ” (I have played a match with women, with women) as he made his way back to the dressing room.
The video, now deleted from Instagram, caused an uproar on social media, and the centre-back apologised. “To put it simply, what I said in the heat of the game, is, it’s wrong, and I am truly sorry for it and I know I have let many people down, including myself and my family,” he said on Twitter.
The AIFF Disciplinary Committee has issued a 'stern warning' to ATK Mohun Bagan player Sandesh Jhingan for his comments made after the Hero Indian Super League Match against Kerala Blasters FC, last month. The body took into account the apology tendered by the player on social media. The Committee has also communicated any repetition will entail exemplary penal actions.
Kauko hurts Blasters’ top four chances
Kerala Blasters looked to be winning against ATK Mohun Bagan with two brilliant goals from Adrian Luna, but Joni Kauko dashed those hopes with a last-minute equaliser.
The draw makes the Blasters’ path to the top four very difficult.
If not for that match, Ivan Vukomanovic’s men could have secured a top-four berth ahead of Mumbai City. But the draw and Mumbai’s subsequent winning run, threw KBFC out of the top-four, making it mandatory for the club to beat MCFC to secure a semifinal berth.
Owen Coyle continues to weave his magic with Jamshedpur FC
Owen Coyle has been a tried and tested wizard in pulling teams to success. The Irish manager had inspired Burnley’s promotion to the Premier League in 2009 and pulled Chennaiyin FC from the bottom of the table to the final of ISL 2019-20.
The same man earned Jamshedpur FC its highest point tally since its inception this season and may well be on course to lead it to its first ever semifinal.
Bengaluru FC out of the race
Bengaluru FC had enjoyed a promising run from December 16 to February 5, without a single loss in nine matches as it stormed into the top four of the table, earning the sobriquet ‘resurgent Bengaluru’.
But hopes came crashing down for Marco Pezzaiuoli’s men as they lost to Hyderabad FC and NorthEast United in the next two matches. The team was knocked out of the tournament after it lost 2-0 to ATK Mohun Bagan.