Torrential rains are common around this time of the year but boy does it rain here in bursts! Forget the inexperienced Pailan Arrows, even Dempo and Shillong Lajong FC struggled to cope with the fickle weather that took a heavy toll on the JRD Tata Sports Complex turf.
Passing went for a toss, as only high and long balls were the order of the day. Dempo though held on to a brilliant Clifford Miranda free-kick followed by a show of solidarity where opponent coaches patted each other and agreed conditions were generally unplayable.
Arrows coach Arthur Papas’s entry was more dramatic, straightaway slamming the people at helm for risking his boys after they had valiantly held a 10-man Mumbai FC 2-2 at the Keenan stadium. Papas, who helms the All India Football Federation’s youth development side, thought the game ought to have been boycotted.
Lajong FC coach Desmond Bulpin felt it ‘was a waste of time’. Three teams — Dempo, Lajong FC and Arrows — pushed for the matches to be called off. Mumbai FC agreed too but the match commissioners didn’t budge. Result was not quite football. “I just asked the boys to clear the ball as high and as far as possible since I feared they might get injured,” said Bulpin. But the teams couldn’t avoid them entirely, especially with tackles flying everywhere.
Most serious among them was Arrows defender Prathamesh Maulingkar who lost a tooth. There were a few good things too like Miranda’s free-kick. And of course the fact that group A of the Federation Cup is still wide open.
The writer's trip has been sponsored by Tata Steel