With their key defenders either injured or under suspension, life has been tough for Kerala Blasters. While Croatian Marko Leskovic is yet to regain full fitness after his injury, the other foreigner, Milos Drincic, was handed a three-match suspension after the red card in the away match against Mumbai City, which saw a flurry of cards being flashed.
To add to the Blasters’ woes, news came in just before its match against NorthEast United that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had suspended another key defender, Prabir Das, for three matches — for his actions in the Mumbai match. He will now return only on November 25 against Hyderabad FC.
“I have to accept it, we lost our reaction during that game…that was wrong, we know that. We have to deal with that better,” said Frank Dauwen, the Blasters’ assistant coach about the match against Mumbai FC, which did a lot of damage to the team as it played NorthEast United.
“I think he (Prabir) didn’t do anything. He was just protecting our player who was lying down on the field. He has also got three weeks (suspension). I can’t believe it but we have to accept it, we have to learn from this situation. So now we miss five players in the back.”
However, Dauwen was happy with the ones who took their place. “I think Noacha (Singh), Hormipam, who were playing for the first time, played a decent game. Sandeep (Singh) also…I’m happy with that.”
That was Dauwen’s last match as the man in charge of the team. The head coach Ivan Vukomanovic will be back after his 10-match suspension, a penalty he had to pay for the Blasters’ controversial walkout in the playoff match against Bengaluru FC last season. Blasters will look to start afresh with his return.
East Bengal beats Hyderabad FC for the first time in the ISL
Before the current season, East Bengal (EBFC) clashed six times with Hyderabad FC (HFC) in Indian Super League (ISL) history, but could not procure a single win — losing four and drawing two. But under new manager Carles Cuadrat, the Red and Gold had renewed hope when the sides met on September 30.
When Hitesh Sharma scored in the eighth minute for a 1-0 lead to HFC, it seemed like the script would remain the same. But backed by a booming home support and the ‘Allez Allez’ chants of the East Bengal ultras, Cuadrat’s men equalised just 90 seconds later as skipper Cleiton Silva dinked the ball over Laxmikant Kattimani to make it 1-1.
As the match remained level with the onset of second-half additional time, it seemed like Hyderabad would retain its unbeaten record against East Bengal, but the Salt Lake Stadium was yet to witness some late magic from Cleiton.
In the third minute of additional time, the Kolkata side got a free kick in a dangerous area. Cleiton stood over the free-kick and with an immaculate finish, found the net as his shot hit the underside of the crossbar and rattled the net for a 2-1 lead.
The jinx was broken, and it was a happy trip home for the East Bengal faithful at the Salt Lake stadium.