Mumbai took on basement I-League side Indian Arrows in the penultimate qualifier for the Super Cup proper and were minutes away from being dumped out by a valiant Indian Arrows. Seeing as Thursday saw the I-League earn the bragging rights after wins from Gokulam and Churchill Brothers, it was down to Mumbai to reverse the tide. Well, at least start the reversal.
Indian Arrows didn’t have the best of I-League seasons, however, you would have been hard-pressed to tell which side was from the ISL and which from the I-League as a close game had to be settled with extra time.
Chances at Either End
For all the possession that Mumbai had in the first half, they couldn’t break Indian Arrows down; the woodwork prevented them as did some good goalkeeping from Gill. Indian Arrows had chances of their own, although nothing as clear-cut as Mumbai, perhaps the closest they came was when they wonderfully named Stalin fired one in from a free-kick. Only good work from Amrinder kept that out.
Indian Arrows had the better of the action in the second period of normal time and the game was lit up when Rahul KP scored an absolutely breathtaking goal to put his side ahead. It was that good, I’m not even going to try and explain it as it won’t do the kid justice, instead, here’s a video of it…
— The Tweeter formerly known as N (@coderzombie) March 16, 2018
Mesmerising, stunning, incredible, I could go on for days on end. Rahul will have definitely caught the attention of sides in the ISL with that goal and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was somewhat of a bidding frenzy for him now. Superb stuff. Minutes later, Rahul nearly doubled his tally but his effort from inside the area went just past the post as Mumbai had gone from dominating in the first half to starting defeat in the face.
Last Gasp Penalty Saves Mumbai
Guimaraes’ side should have had a penalty with three minutes to go as there was a blatant handball in the area, however, the referee let it go. He couldn’t let Asish Rai’s challenge on Everton go moments later as he awarded a spotkick with only minutes left on the clock. Achille Emana coolly converted from the spot to send the game into extra time. Talk about in the nick of time, eh?
Mumbai’s quality ultimately shone through in extra time as a well-taken goal by Everton Santos in the first half of extra time spared Mumbai’s blushes as they progress to the next round where they’ll face another I-League side in East Bengal. A defeat is harsh on Indian Arrows, nevertheless, somebody had to win it on the day and it just so happened to be Mumbai. It’ll forever be remembered for Rahul’s goal, though.
After the game, both Alexandre Guimaraes of Mumbai and Luis Norton de Matos of Indian Arrows faced the media as they talked about the action that had just foregone them. We’ll begin with the victorious Mumbai gaffer:
“We knew it was going to be very difficult. Everybody feels that in this kind of game you can win easy but when you are up against a team with good organisation and a team who are excited to beat their idols, it becomes very difficult. We had to be very patient. We got the goal at last as it was very important for us to get through. Now it is time to give the players some days off so that we can give our all against East Bengal.”
That sort of shows you the difference in stature between the two sides; to beat their idols, Guimaraes got it right in the end, with only minutes to spare. Guimaraes also made a point of mentioning he switched things up prior to extra time beginning.
“We knew that we will have our chances. We knew we have to keep our cool. They did very well to go up 1-0. We kept our focus and did the necessary modifications and in the extra-time, we did much better,”
Guimaraes is a man of few words and that was the end of that from the flamboyant Costa Rican. Now it was the turn of the Portuguese coach, Matos and although they lost, he was right to be happy with his side.
We Need Sides Like Indian Arrows Worldwide
“Mumbai started better than us. We were prepared to suffer as they had players with experience and quality. But after the initial minutes, we grew in confidence and took the game to Mumbai. Our project has been to fight for results. Of course, we committed some mistakes which are again a part of the process. The players are unhappy but at this age, it is a fantastic performance from them. Four-five months ago, it was unbelievable that they would play so well against an ISL side.”
For those that don’t know, Indian Arrows are a project side formulated by the AIFF to get all the young Indian players playing together on a regular basis to give them a better chance of being successful in international tournaments in the future. It’s not known yet whether or not they’ll be given the green light to play again next season. Matos spoke passionately about the matter in hand;
“This project must continue with all the players intact. It is in the national interest. It is not only about the Under-20 World Cup but it is about the progress of Indian football for the next 10 years. I am very satisfied because all opponents have come up to us congratulating us for our football. Now, this is up to the management to continue this.”
You’ve got to agree with him as you can’t put a price on regular football for the youngsters and maybe its something that more countries should be looking at… There’s some food for thought.
In conclusion, Mumbai go marching on, Indian Arrows were far from disgraced and Rahul scored a goal that Raul would’ve been proud of.
Until the next time.