Preview: India – 2014 Hero Indian Super League – Semifinals
The First Edition of Indian Super League is coming to an end, Regular Season is over and the Playoff are going to begin: there will be two-legged Semifinals and a Final, that will consist on a single match played in Mumbai on Sathurday the 20th of December.
The two Semifinals are Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters FC and FC Goa vs Atlético de Kolkata, and few matches could be broadcasted live on Eurosport2 in Europe.
Check the Wikipedia page if you want to know how Regular Season ended.
KERALA BLASTERS FC – CHENNAIYIN FC
First Leg: Sathurday December 13, 2014, h. 19:00 Indian Standard Time (h. 14.30o CET), Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.
Second Leg: Tuesday December 16, 2014, h. 19:00 Indian Standard Time (h. 14.30o CET), Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai.
Chennaiyin FC won the Regular Season with 23 points (6W, 5D, 3L), four more than Kerala Blasters FC, that ended fourth at 19 (5W, 4D, L): Marco Materazzi’s team kept a quite regular pace, spending almost all the (brief) ISL Seasons in the top two position, without long winning or losing streaks, and could look the favorite one, but anyway the tie should be quite balanced, as almost every match in the Playoffs, especially in Leagues with a salary cap.
Despite having its most famous names in the defence and not on the front, Chennaiyin FC ended the Regular Season with the best attack (24 goals scored in 14 matches) and the second worst defence (20 goals conceded), while Kerala Blasters FC has been a perfectly specular team, conceding just 11 goals in 14 games (best defence, a good work from the player/manager David James), but finding the net just 9 times (worst attack in the League); so the match looks very balanced and tactically very interesting, and could be decided by managers’ skills.
It must be said that Elano, who made the difference during Regular Season for Chennaiyin FC scoring 8 goals (League top scorer), mostly from set pieces, could miss at least one game because of an injury.
During Regular Season Kerala Blasters FC registered the best average home attendance in the League with 47.427 spectators per game, while Chennaiyin FC the fifth one with 21.634.
KERALA BLASTERS FC
Kerala Blasters FC is situated in Kochi, a city in the State of Kerala, and is probably the most Anglo-Saxon team in the league.
The former English International, and Watford, Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham United, Manchester City and Portsmouth GK (last year he played in Iceland), David “Calamity” James, not only has to defend Kerala Blasters’ goal, but he is the manager of the team as well (his replacement is the Indian International Sandip Nandy), while in the defensive line that he has to command, we can find two Frenchmen, Cédric Hengbart (a former Caen, Auxerre and Ajaccio defender) and Raphaël Romey, who has always played in French lower divisions, the Scottish Jamie McAllister (a former Aberdeen, Hearth of Midlothian, Bristol City and Yeovil Town defender), the Brazilian youngster Erwin Spitzner (20, on loan from Atlético Paranaense), the Irish Colin Falvey and the Indian International Nirmal Chettri.
In the midfield there are Stephen Paul Pearson, a Scottish winger who has played for Motherwell, Celtic FC, Derby County, Stoke City and Bristol City, the Spanish Victor Herrero Forcada “Pulga”, the Nigerian Penn Orji, and the Indian Internationals Mehtab Hussain and Renedy Singh, while on the front the most important players should be the Australian Andrew Barisic, the Brazilian Pedro Gusmao, the Canadian International Iain Hume, who has played for Tranmere Rovers, Leicester City, Barnsley, Preston North End and Doncaster Rovers, and Michael Chopra, a former Newcastle United, Cardiff City, Sunderland, Ipswich Town and Blackpool striker, who was born in England from an Indian father, and he has declared that he would like to play for Indian NT, and could renounce his British citizenship to do so, and he could also play in India in I-League after the end of 2014 ISL.
The social colours are yellow and blue, while the home stadium is the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium of Kochi, that can hold 80.000 people.
This team cooperates with FC Internazionale Milano, and the black and blue colour of the home kit and and the fact that Marco Materazzi, former FC Inter Captain, will serve as player-manager for this team are a proof of that.
In the goal there’s the French Gennaro Bracigliano, a former Nancy and OM goalkeeper; the core of the defence is French as well with Bernard Mendy (33, a former Caen, PSG, Bolton Wanderers, Hull City, OB and Brest defender) and Mikaël Silvestre (former French International and Rennes, FC Inter, Manchester United, Arsenal, Werder Bremen and Portland Timbers player), moreover there are Marco Materazzi himself, Jairo Suárez, a Colombian former Club Santa Fe defender, and the Indian International Gouramangi Singh. When the Regular Season was almost over, Chennaiyin FC signed also the former Italian International Alessandro Nesta, who came out from retirement and has played just an half so far: maybe he could be useful during the Playoff.
In the midfield there are the Spanish Cristian Hidalgo, a former Deportivo La Coruña winger, the Serbian/Swedish Bojan Djordjic (a former Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday, AGF, Crvena Zvezda, Rangers FC, AIK, Videoton, Blackpool and Royal Antwerp winger), the former Cameroonian International Eric Djemba-Djemba (former FC Nantes, Manchester United, Aston Villa, OB Odense, Hapoel Tel Aviv and FK Partizan midfielder), the Indian Intrnational Pappachen Pradeep and two Brazialians, Bruno Pelissari and, most of all, Elano (marquee player), former playmaker of Brazilian NT and Santos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Galatasaray, Gremio and Flamengo.
The attack doesn’t look too strong considering just the individualities, the Haitian International Jean-Eudes Maurice (former PSG, RC Lens and FC Le Mans striker), the Colombian John Stiven Mendoza and the Indian International Jeje Lalpekhlua are probably the best options.
The home venue is the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, whose capacity is 40.000.
ATLETICO DE KOLKATA – GOA FC
First Leg: Sunday December 14, 2014, h. 19:00 Indian Standard Time (h. 14.30o CET), Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
Second Leg: Wednesday December 17, 2014, h. 19:00 Indian Standard Time (h. 14.30o CET), Fatorda Stadium, Margao.
At the beginning of the Season Atlético de Kolkata would have been clearly favorite, because they started the Season quite well, collecting 4 wins and 3 draws in the first 9 matchdays, topping the table as well, while FC Goa began very poorly, collecting 4 defeats in the first 6 games.
But in the second part of the Season everything changed: FC Goa, that seemed to have almost no chance to enter the Play-offs, hasn’t been defeated anymore in the remaining 8 matches, winning 5 of them (4 in a row from MD 10 to MD 13), maybe thanks to a switch from 4-1-4-1 to 4-2-3-1 in their scheme, while Atlético de Kolkata hasn’t win in the last 5 matches (4D and 1L), remaining in the Playoff area thanks to a questionable penalty kick that earned them a draw (1-1) against FC Goa itself in the last matchday of the Season.
So the teams managed by Zico looks a bit favorite, at least because they are having a better trend.
ATLETICO DE KOLKATA
This team is partially owned by Club Atlético de Madrid, as you can easily figure from its jersey, that is almost identical to the one of the Spanish club, and from the fact that there are six Spanish players.
The GK is the former Armenian International Apoula Edel (he was born in Cameroon and has played for Rapid Bucuresti, KAA Gent, PSG and Hapoel Tel Aviv), while in the defence we can find the French Sylvain Monsoreau (33, a former Sochaux, OL, Monaco, Saint-Etienne and Troyes defender), the Spanish Josemi (34, a former Màlaga, Liverpool, Villarreal, RCD Mallorca, Iraklis and Skoda Xanthi defender) and the Indian Internationals Arnab Mondal and Denzil Franco (right back).
In the midfield there are Luis Garcia (the marquee player, a former Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Racing Santander, Panathinaikos, Puebla and Pumas UNAM offensive midfielder), Borja Fernàndez (33, a former Real Madrid CF, RCD Mallorca, Reàl Valladolid, Getafe and Deportivo La Coruña Spanish defensive midfielder), Jofre (former Barcelona, Levante, Espanyol, Rayo Vallecano and Valladolid midfielder), Jakub Podaný (a Czech former Sparta Praha left winger), the Botswana International Ofentse Nato, the Bangladeshi International Mamunul Islam and the former Indian International Climax Lawrence, while the main strikers are the Ethiopian International Fikru Teferra and the Spanish Arnal Llibert who had his best seasons in Cyprus.
The manager is the Spanish Antonio López Habas and the home stadium is Salt Lake Stadium, that can hold 120.000 people.
It is obviously located in the city of Goa, a former Portuguese colony, and this team seems to have a kind of Portuguese (and Brazilian) heritage as well, because the Manager is the legend Zico, and moreover there are three Portuguese players, a Brazilian one and a French one, Robert Pires, who has Portuguese origins.
The GK is the Czech Jan Šeda, who in the past has defended the goal of Mlada Boleslav and RKC, while in the defence we can find two Frenchmen, Youness Bengelloun, who has played in French lower leagues, Cyprus, Greece and Bulgaria, and Grégory Arnolin, who has played mostly in Portugal (Gil Vicente, Vitória SC, Paços de Ferreira) and Spain (Sporting Gijon), a Portuguese, Bruno Pinheiro (former Boavista, Aris Limassol, Widzew Lodz, Gil Vicente, Maccabi Netanya and Niki Volos), the former Brazilian International and Flamengo, Corinthians, Fenerbahce, Arsenal and Gremio left back Andrè Santos, and the Internationals Debabrata Roy, from India, and Zohib Islam Amiri, from Afghanistan.
In the midfield there are the Portuguese Edgar Marcelino, a former Vitória SC, Omonia Nicosia and Estoril midfielder, the Indian Internationals Alwyn George, Jewel Raja and Clifford Miranda (left winger) and the former French International, Robert Pires, who has been a FC Metz, OM, Arsenal FC, Villarreal CF and Aston Villa winger: he’s the marquee player, he has a lot of class, but he’s almost 41 and he’s back to professional football after a three-year-retirement.
On the front there’s the Portuguese youngster Miguel Herlein (21), who has always played in lower leagues, the Nigerian Ranti Martins, who has scored plenty of goals in the Indian I-League, the Turkish/Australian Tolgay Ozbey and the Czech Miroslav Slepička, a former Slovan Liberec, AC Sparta Praha and GNK Dinamo Zagreb striker.
This team wears a blue and orange kit, and plays ad Fatorda Stadium, that has a capacity of 24.500.
Sathurday December 20, 2014, h. 19:00 Indian Standard Time (h. 14.30o CET), DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai.