We travelled to Chennai this week to take on Chennaiyin FC. This was how we started: Debjit Majumder, Prabir Das, Jordi Montel, Tom Thorpe, Keegan Pereira, Rupert Nongrum, Zequinha, Hitesh Sharma, Conor Thomas, Bipin Singh and Njazi Kuqi.
The home team kicked-off the game and Bipin found his way through the defense with a cross from Kuqi to rattle the home team but Inigo Calderon’s perfectly timed interception cleared the attack. However, it didn’t take long for Bipin to find the first shot of the game. His shot lacked power and was calming collected by Karanjit.
What followed was great teamwork between Hitesh and Zequinha. The Portugues found his way past the Chennaiyin defenders and played it to Bipin who curled it in but his shot was a little too heavy. A free-kick at the tenth minute was won by Bipin after he was fouled by Jerry and decided to take it himself - the shot was whipped in but sailed wide.
Chennaiyin FC started with their attack but it wasn’t long before Prabir broke into a counter-attack from the right. He delivered a pass to Bipin who found Zequinha - he took the shot but it went over the bar. The first quarter of the game saw both sides trying their luck to break each other’s defense and both Prabir and Tom did well to divert the danger from the home side.
Bipin Singh made his presence felt once again, a few minutes before we crossed the half-hour mark when he ran down the left past Inigo and crossed it in but the ball was palmed away by Karanjit, thus conceding a corner. The spirited Bipin found yet another chance after connecting with Tom. He entered the box but went down as Sereno closed him down, an appeal for a penalty went unattended to.
After a few trails, we found our way back to the attacking end through Zequinha who made his way through the centre; fired his shot from quite a distance and yet again, Karanjit palmed it away.
We entered the last five minutes of the game with a free kick after Zequinha was fouled by Sereno who was given the yellow card. The free kick was converted to a corner in our favour but we didn’t make much of it. A minute later, Rupert was brought down. The free kick taken by Zequinha was headed by Hitesh but it failed to leave an impact. The first half concluded with a goalless draw.
We started the second half with the attack from the left to the right. The Chennaiyin FC attack tested our defense when Jerry and Nelson paired together. Nelson’s low cross was then collected by Debjit.
We made our first substitution at the fiftieth minute when Ashutosh Mehta came in for our Captain, Jordi and ten minutes later, the much-awaited debut by Robbie Keane was seen as he replaced Bipin.
The home team broke the deadlock when Sereno connected with Jeje from the corner taken by Gavilan to open the scoreline during the sixty-fifth minute. We came closed to an equaliser when Kuqi missed the net soon after the Chennaiyin FC goal.
Zequinha won a corner off Mailson but it was cleared by Sereno. The midfielder didn’t slow down as he continued to throw in attack after attack. It finally paid off at the seventy-seventh minute when he levelled the score. An eager Kuqi crossed the ball into the box Zequinha to slot in a goal past Karanjit into the bottom left corner.
We entered the eightieth minute with more confidence, that was spotted with the one-on-one build up between Zequinha and Kuqi but an alert Karanjit blocked the shot with his body.
The last substitution change was made when Shankar came on for Hitesh. A few minutes later, Chennaiyin FC took the lead as Inigo fired a shot into the bottom right corner of the net after a deflection from Tom and past Debjit.
The last few minutes of the game was madness as Robbie Keane found his way from the right, past the Chennaiyin defenders and to Kuqi. He took his first shot, Karanjit saved it but then Kuqi blasts the rebound just under the roof of the net and equalised.
Our celebration was however short-lived when Jeje had the last say with his goal during the during moments of the game. The action-packed goal-laden game ended in favour of the home team.
We travel to Mumbai for our next game on the 17th of December.