Clash of the debutants as Bharat FC host Royal Wahingdoh FC in the I-League
I-League debutants Bharat FC and Royal Wahingdoh FC have made diametrically opposite starts to the season and as they meet in a Round 3 match it will be interesting to see who stands where, at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Tuesday.
Kalyani Group-owned Bharat FC will play their second match of the season after surviving against Dempo SC on Saturday with a goalless draw, but it is time to get over with the novelty of being a newly-assembled team and get on with the work of winning matches. Bharat FC currently stand eighth in the 11-team I-League table with one point, while Royal Wahingdoh are sensational early leaders, having garnered six points from two matches.
Defender Dharmaraj Ravanan was clearly the saviour for Bharat FC in their debut match saving several chances taken by Dempo including one clear chance from Mandar Rao Dessai. His presence in the defence is key to Bharat FC and when they line-up against Royal Wahingdoh on the morrow, much will depend on the form of the former FC Pune City defender.
New Zealand striker Kris Bright could have become an instant hero for the Pune team, but for sending out a skier in the final minute against Dempo. He was fed the ball at the edge of the box and his first-time effort sailed high over the crossbar. Then there was Mehrajuddin Wadoo who messed up a header after a free-kick found him inside the box.
Meanwhile there couldn't have been a better start for a debutant team as this Shillong side. After winning the Shillong derby against Shillong Lajong FC, Wahingdoh surprised the pundits by beating mighty Goan team Salgaocar FC in their own den.
Salgaocar coach Derrick Pereira made couple of changes to the side which had drawn against Pune FC in Round 1, but the end result was not to his liking. Though Salgaocar dominated the proceedings, it was Royal Wahingdoh, which took the chance when it mattered the most. Jackichand Singh was the hero as he put Royal Wahingdoh ahead in the seventh minute itself – chancing on a miscommunication between Salgaocar goalkeeper Subrata Pal and defender Augustine Fernandes.
Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Densill Theobald had sent a long ball into Salgaocar area and Jackichand latched onto the chance when Subrata and Augustine messed up.
For coach Santosh Kashyap it will be yet another opportunity to improve his standing as he has always proved with the new teams every season.