Following a one-month hiatus for the AFC Asian Cup, the Indian Super League (ISL) returned to action. With 20 goals scored in six games during match week, it was a week of goals. FC Goa is still undefeated, with Hyderabad FC being the only team without a victory. We look at some of the most memorable moments from match week 13 of the ISL, including Ali Bemammer’s incredible strike, a fierce Kolkata Derby, and an astonishing Jamshedpur FC comeback.
Jamshedpur, Northeast settle for a draw
Jamshedpur FC played Northeast United FC in the match week’s opening match at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur. It was Khalid Jamil’s first ISL match since joining Jamshedpur FC in the top division. Ironically, it was against Northeast United FC, the team he took to the ISL semifinals despite having taken them over halfway through the campaign. For both teams to continue their quest for the ISL playoffs, a win in this match was crucial.
About 30 minutes into the match, Imran Khan, the former Highlander, handed the Red Miners the lead. One of the Highlanders’ most important performers of the year, Mohammed Ali Bemammer, equalized with a spectacular long-range shot that left TP Rehanesh with minimal chance. The game finished in a tie, 1-1. Although they wouldn’t have liked to have dropped any points, both head coaches would have been relieved to not have lost all three points.
Problems continue for Hyderabad FC
In the match week’s second encounter, Manolo Marquez made his return to Hyderabad FC. The Gaurs won the game 2-0 with ease, extending their winning streak in the ISL to 11 games. Carlos Martinez, the 37-year-old striker from Spain, led Goa to a convincing victory with two goals. With this win, the Gaurs—who have 27 points from 11 games—return to the top of the standings. More significantly, the Goa team, who have only let in five goals this season, kept another clean sheet.
Hyderabad FC’s issues persist as they are yet to secure a victory in their 12 league games this season. They have lost their last three games and have not scored any goals throughout that time. However, the club has been more negatively impacted by off-field problems than by on-field ones. After waving a banner demanding unpaid pay from the team, a small number of Hyderabad FC staff were eventually escorted out of the stadium.
During the winter transfer window, a staggering 13 first-team players—all foreigners except for Joao Victor—left the squad due to unpaid salaries. Some players have left the club permanently by receiving NOC from the AIFF, while Mohammad Yasir, Sahil Tavora, and Vignesh Dakshinamurthy departed on loan. Moreover, they are unable to sign fresh players because of the transfer ban they are now facing. They were forced to use six debutants in the match against Goa as a result. For the former ISL Champions, one can only hope that things will improve.
Sergio Lobera Building a Fortress at Kalinga
At the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha FC hosted Kerala Blasters FC in the third encounter of the match week. Despite Diamantakos giving the Blasters an early lead, Roy Krishna’s brace helped Odisha FC win the match 2-1. With 27 points, Odisha is now tied with FC Goa at the top of the league. After this defeat, Kerala Blasters have dropped to third position. It would be intriguing to watch how they maintain their shield hunt in light of Kwame Peprah’s recent injury.
Sergio Lobera has gradually begun to fortify Kalinga since his arrival. This season, Odisha FC has played 15 games at Kalinga Stadium across all competitions. Of those games, they have only lost two: the AFC Cup match against Mohun Bagan Super Giants and the Kalinga Super Cup final matchup versus East Bengal. They have played seven home games in the ISL, recording six victories and one tie. In these seven games, they have scored a whopping 17 goals, averaging over two goals per contest.
Bengaluru FC’s sluggish form continues
At Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, Punjab FC surprised Bengaluru FC with a 3-1 victory in the match week’s fourth game. Even though Sunil Chhetri handed the Blues an early lead, Punjab FC fought back valiantly to take all three points. Following an exquisite cross from Abhishek Singh, Wilmar Jordan equalized with a brilliant finish. Luka Majcen and Madih Talal then scored a second and third. Punjab FC’s first ISL victory came against Chennaiyin FC before the break. This was their second victory in the league.
With regard to Bengaluru FC, there were many reasons for their supporters to be optimistic before the match. Chinglensana Singh and local boy Nikhil Poojary were signed by Bengaluru FC during the last few days of the transfer window, demonstrating the club’s seriousness. But they were the second-best team for a significant portion of the game, thus things didn’t go as planned. The Blues are now winless in their last five games in all competitions after this defeat. Gerard Zaragoza would be looking for better results as they try to secure a top-6 finish, while Staikos Vergetis would be thrilled to kick off the second phase of the ISL with an emphatic victory.
A feisty Kolkata Derby ends in a draw
Mohun Bagan Super Giants and East Bengal FC faced each other at the Salt Lake stadium in the fifth match of the game week. Before the game, both sets of supporters were incredibly excited. Antonio Lopez Habbas is making a comeback to Mohun Bagan, while East Bengal is fresh off a Super Cup victory. The game lived up to the hype as both teams engaged in a physical battle that saw several tackles from both sets of players. Ten yellow cards in all, five for each team, were displayed.
Ajay Chhetri gave the Red and Gold brigade the lead in the third minute, marking a fantastic start to the match. Armando Sadiku tied the score by converting a spectacular Brendan Hamill pass. The Mariners had many opportunities in the first half, but they were unable to take advantage, and the half ended 1-1. With a penalty kick awarded in the aftermath of Deepak Tangri’s clumsy foul on Mahesh, Cleiton gave East Bengal the lead. Petratos equalized for the Mariners just when it appeared that East Bengal were winning. The game ended 2-2.
East Bengal are currently undefeated in their past 11 games across all competitions after yet another excellent result. Despite a plodding start to the campaign, Carles Cuadrat’s team has significantly improved and appears to be a much more threatening force. The Mariners are now seven points behind FC Goa, the ISL leaders, having lost three of their last four games. Anwar Ali, who had returned following a long absence, was pulled off the field 14 minutes into the match, underlining their ongoing injury problems. Habbas will be hopeful that his team can string together a winning streak to compete for the shield.
Khalid Jamil, the Indian Mastermind
Mumbai Football Arena hosted the match week’s final encounter between Mumbai City FC and Jamshedpur FC. After their first encounter ended in a 1-1 tie, Jamshedpur played their second game of the match week. Regarding the Islanders, they were coming off a Super Cup semifinal loss to Odisha FC. Mumbai City led 2-0 at the interval thanks to goals from Tiri and Noguera. But Jamshedpur FC mounted a stunning comeback, winning 3-2 and taking all three points with three goals in the second half. Manzorro’s brace sealed the comeback, with Imran Khan leveling the score for the Red Miners.
Under Scott Cooper, Jamshedpur FC’s ISL season got off to a rough start. Cooper was fired after they won only two of their twelve games. Prior to the Kalinga Super Cup, Khalid Jamil was named the head coach on an interim basis. Khalid Jamil accomplished an outstanding job leading the Red Miners to the Super Cup knockout stages despite having limited time to prepare. East Bengal FC, the champions, eliminated them. Jamshedpur, despite a slow start, is in a good position to challenge for an ISL top-six spot. They drew 1-1 with Northeast in the opening match of the second phase.
With a two-goal deficit, it appeared as though Jamshedpur was effectively out of the match at the break against Mumbai City FC. However, Khalid Jamil’s halftime substitutions altered the course of the match. The difference came from his decision to substitute Javier Siverio in the second half. His teams always have a fighting mentality and are never out of the game, as we have seen with his Northeast United side in the past. With this victory, Jamshedpur FC, led by Khalid Jamil, has now won four of the last six games, which is double the amount of victories they had in the first 12 games.
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