With one final spot up for grabs in the last eight of the Super Cup, Neroca and Kerala produced a fabulous game which ultimately saw the I-League side progress after a rousing comeback. Before we get stuck into the action, I’d like to issue an apology on behalf of Steve after his mishap regarding the preview. For some reason, he thought that Neroca didn’t play in the I-League the season just gone, he’s had a rough couple of weeks with all the Uche news and what have you, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Goals, Goals, Goals
Previously, we’ve seen twenty-two goals across the other seven ties which gives an average of just over three goals a game. Yes I know, I’m a math wizard. So, if you’re looking for a tournament with goals then this is for you unless of course, you are watching Jamshedpur…
David James’ side got off to the best possible start as they took the lead in the eleventh minute via the penalty spot. The referee spotted a handball and Pulga was tasked with putting it away; he did just that as he coolly tucked it away in the bottom left-hand corner. 1-0.
There were chances at either end, but the game remained finely poised going into the break, nevertheless, it didn’t take long for that to change in the second half. Prasanth doubled Kerala’s lead as he was in the right place at the right time to put away Pekuson’s cross-cum-shot, Kerala were cruising. 2-0.
Where Was The Marking?
Another twenty minutes had been and gone before we saw our next goal, which took us nicely to the final quarter of the game. Some slack marking in the box by the Blasters allowed Jean Joachim far too much room as he was able to turn and finish beyond Rachubka. 2-1. Game on?
Or not as CK Vineeth had the ball in the net down the other end. BUT WAIT. The linesman adjudged the hitman was offside which kept the deficit at only one; we were approaching the final ten minutes…
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Aryn Williams, the Australian centre-half, headed home after a tantalising delivery from Pritam, now we definitely did have a game on our hands. 2-2, ten minutes to play.
Just Like That, The Comeback Was Complete
PENALTY. Oh, Wes. Why do you have to do things like that? I am referring to Wes Brown, of course. The former Man United player handled the ball in the area to give Neroca the chance to complete their comeback. Chance taken. Felix Odili Chidi won the battle of mind games with Rachubka and sent the Neroca supporters delirious. 2-3.
That was that, Neroca scored thrice in eleven minutes to succumb Kerala to an early exit from a tournament that they would’ve wanted more from. Only the other day, James was saying how much he wanted to win it. Maybe next time.
After the game, Neroca coach Gift Raikhan had this to say:
“I knew that ISL team will play well in first half. They have good players and had the confidence to play against an I-League team. I knew that we will play well in second half. I know my team and know Kerala Blasters as well. Only thing is that we conceded a penalty goal.
They held the ball in midfield; they played five midfielders and that’s why they dominated. We needed to stay calm. We got chance in the second half and we scored. We are a fit team.”
Can Neroca Get The Better Of Bengaluru?
Fair play. Neroca will have to be at their very best again in the next round as they entertain Bengaluru. In the other corner, David James was happy with how his team performed up until the seventy-minute mark…
“It’s fair to say that our performance till 70 minutes was fantastic. I would like to see the disallowed goal again. I am not sure if it was offside.
The injuries were a big factor. Sandesh Jhingan was obviously playing very well but he had to come off. Regarding the penalty, I am not sure what constitutes handball anymore. But these things happen in football. When the team is playing well and we end up losing the game through no fault of your own it’s tough to take. It’s a thoroughly disappointing way to go out of the tournament.
We trained properly for this and turned up here four days ago thinking we are going to win this. We trained properly; the performance was good until 70 minutes till they scored we played possibly the best football. I wished this was pre-season. The way the lads trained was fantastic. Cups are funny things.”
Fernando Torres to Kerala?
I’m a bit gutted for Jamo because I really want him to succeed at Kerala and getting a cup win under his belt would’ve been an excellent way for him to announce to the world that he means business. The summer will be intriguing, to say the least as he could pull a few strings and get some unbelievable players. Fernando Torres isn’t happy at Atletico Madrid. Christ, imagine that.
With Neroca qualifying, the draw for the last eight now looks like this:
The lineup for the last eight of the #HeroSuperCup is now complete and here's what the draw has dished up… @AizawlFC vs @eastbengalfc@JamshedpurFC vs @FCGoaOfficial@Mohun_Bagan vs @lajongfc @bengalurufc vs @NerocaFC pic.twitter.com/Uq6WO63ik1
— Indian Super League (@indianleagueuk) April 6, 2018
I’m still sticking to my guns in the sense that I still think Bengaluru will win it. We shall see.
Until the next time.