Football Hero I-League

Hero I-League kicks off; MSC, CCFC and Punjab SC start on winning note

KOLKATA: The 2020-21 season of the Hero I-League got underway with Mohammedan SC edging past Sudeva Delhi FC 1-0 at the VYBK Stadium on Saturday. Ali Faisal’s 58th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides in a match that could have gone either way.

In a cagey first half, both teams appeared to be cautious of each other’s strengths while playing without exposing themselves to counter-attacks. Eventually, the tactics of the teams cancelled each other out in the middle of the park, with rare shots on goal.

Sporting got the breakthrough much against the run of play in the 58th minute when Ali Faisal pounced onto a defensive error by the Sudeva backline and slotted it into the back of the net. The sheer power of the strike beat custodian Rakshit Dagar, despite him getting a hand on the shot.

Aiming to start the season on a positive note, RoundGlass Punjab FC lived up to their expectation, defeating Aizawl FC 1-0 at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium. Pritam Ningthoujam’s 18th-minute outside-of-the-box strike led RoundGlass Punjab FC to gather three points in a high-intensity match. Meanwhile, Aizawl FC created clear goal-scoring opportunities throughout the match but failed to finish, as they succumbed to defeat in the end.

The early minutes of the match saw it played with a frantic pace and end-to-end action as both teams tried to build and take an early advantage. Aizawl FC started right off the blocks with high pressure and squeezed RoundGlass Punjab FC in their defending third.

In the 10th minute, Princewell Emeka tried to backheel a pass to an onrushing Brandon inside the box, whose shot was blocked, as Aizawl FC wasted a golden opportunity to go ahead. Eight minutes later, the outcome was different for the Punjabi side. Off a failed clearance that fell his way, Pritam Ningthoujam unleashed a venomous strike from the outside of the box to hand the Punjab outfit a 1-0 lead, much against the run of play. This strike turned out to be the match-winner.

Meanwhile, Chennai City FC defeated Gokulam Kerala FC 2-1 in the Southern Derby at Kalyani.  In an end-to-end clash that was electric from the first minute to the very end, Vijay Naggapan’s 50th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides after Gokulam Kerala’s 3rd-minute strike by Dennis Antwi was cancelled out by Elvedin Skrijelj’s 26th-minute penalty.

Gokulam Kerala FC wasted little time in formalities and got right into the thick of the action by taking the lead as early as the 3rd minute. A quick corner caught the Chennai City FC defence off-guard and finished with Dennis Antwi striking home from close range to hand the Malabarians the lead.

In the 26th minute, Chennai City FC’s Serbian import Vladimir Molerovic was brought down inside the box. The other Serbian import for Chennai, Elvedin Skrijelj, scored from the spot to level scores. It took CCFC five minutes in the second half to find the net and take the lead. In the 50th minute, Vijay Naggapan played a delightful one-two with Demir Avdic to find the back of the net, as the scoreline read 2-1. Vijay was adjudged the Hero of the Match. AIFF Media