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I-League: Gokulam Kerala FC clinch first win as Indian Arrows fume over conditions

The new I-League team Gokulam Kerala used height advantage to win 2-0 as their young opponents Indian Arrows floundered on a far from ideal Ambedkar Stadium pitch in New Delhi on Friday.

football Updated: Dec 22, 2017 23:32 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
I-League,Gokulam Kerala FC,Indian Arrows
Gokulam Kerala registered their first win of the I-League season with a 2-0 defeat of the Indian Arrows. (AIFF)

The young footballers of Indian Arrows are no strangers to playing in New Delhi. Just a few months ago, they were the talk of the town and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was buzzing with spectators cheering their every single move during the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

However, the support was absent on Friday when Indian Arrows were handed a 2-0 defeat by Gokulam Kerala FC in their first I-League game at the Ambedkar Stadium after playing their first two home games in Goa.

There were hardly 400-500 spectators to cheer the youngsters and an afternoon kick-off on a match day didn’t help matters. Arrows coach Luis Norton De Matos was visibly upset with the lack of support for his team and also blamed the change in playing conditions.

“We don’t have a home ground as we keep moving from place to place. Yesterday was the first time we played on this pitch and I was not happy with the conditions. The pitch is very hard and it is really difficult for the players to play short passes on this ground,” the Portuguese manager, who had guided India in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, told the media.

“Whether it is in Goa or here (New Delhi), there is hardly any crowd for the matches, and as a result, there is no advantage we can enjoy as a home side in any of the venues.”

Crowd support was not the biggest issue for Indian Arrows as they were outplayed by Gokulam Kerala FC. The height advantage the Gokulam players enjoyed proved the deciding factor and two set-piece goals by Daniel Addo (11th minute) and Khaled Al Salah (65th minute) clinched the game for the visitors.

Asked about his team’s performances, Matos didn’t mince words. “The first half of this game was the worst 45 minutes the team has played under my coaching. The players were extremely slow and they committed way too many mistakes,” he said at the post-match press conference.

Gokulam Kerala FC registered their first win of the tournament and coach Binu George was extremely happy. “We knew the opposition will be trying to pass among themselves in the midfield. That is why we forced them to play long passes and it was an easy task for our defenders to win most of the aerial duels.”

First Published: Dec 22, 2017 19:27 IST