Chennaiyin FC started their eighth season of the Indian Super League (ISL) with a victory thanks to a penalty kick scored by Vladimir Koman in the second half of the match. The two-time champions beat Hyderabad FC 1-0.
The match took place on Tuesday, 23 November, at the Athletics Stadium in Bambolim. Chennaiyin FC finished the last season in the eighth position. Whereas, Hyderabad finished fifth in the ISL last season and missed the playoffs by two points.
Chennaiyin FC started the match on the front foot. They got an early chance, which was deflected by Hyderabad defender Joao Vitor. Soon Hyderabad retaliated back as Bartholomew Ogbeche found Hitesh Sharma in the box who skied the ball over the target. As the match progressed, CFC keeper Vishal Kaith showcased his skill and agility to shut down the Hyderabad offence. Kyrgyz playmaker Mirlan Murzaev almost scored Chennaiyin's first goal late in the first half but was off the target.
After a goalless first half, Chennaiyin FC got a penalty kick in the 66th minute. Captain Anirudh Thapa won the penalty after being brought down by Hitesh Sharma inside the box. CFC's Vladimir Koman took the penalty on his ISL debut and scored to put the Marina Machans ahead.
Chennaiyin saw the match through and registered all three points to possibly begin another successful ISL campaign.
Today's match: Odisha FC vs Bengaluru FC
A new set of Kalinga Warriors
Odisha FC commences their third ISL season against former champions Bengaluru FC at the Tilak Maidan in Goa. Last year, Odisha FC finished the season at the bottom of the table and had the worst defensive record in the entire league.
After a horrendous season, the Odisha FC management has entered the 2021-22 season with a complete overhaul. Odisha brought the world cup winner and Spanish footballing legend David Villa as the head of global operations. They brought in a new lot of foreign players and also signed new Indian players for the upcoming season.
The Kalinga Warriors have built an exciting attacking line that promises to cause trouble for every opposition defence. The dynamic duo of European veterans Jonathas Cristian and Aridai Cabrera threatens to be one of the best striker combos in the league.
Along with veteran presence, Odisha has Indian youngsters like Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Daniel Lalhlimpuia and Nikhil Raj, that can be the future of Indian football.
Despite the new signings, Odisha FC has failed to reinforce their defence, which was the biggest problem last season. They conceded 44 goals and lost 12 out of the 20 matches.
Former champions come for the Crown
Bengaluru FC has already started the season with a 4-2 victory over Northeast United. The Blues had three different goal scorers against the Highlanders but struggled on the defensive end. Players like Alan Costa and Yrondu Musavu-King had sub-par performances leading to the defensive lapses for Bengaluru.
If the Blues want to be one of the title - contenders, they cannot afford to make mistakes, especially playing against top tier opponents. Today, Bengaluru has a great opportunity to push a newly formed Odisha squad and solidify their position at the top.