Kozhikode, November 4: Chennai City FC continued their impressive campaign in the 12th Hero I-League, winning the season’s first Southern Derby against Gokulam Kerala FC in a five-goal thriller at the EMS Corporation stadium in Kozhikode on Sunday (November 4).
They now top the points table with seven points from three games. In an 'edge of the seats’ encounter, Chennai rode on goals by Pravitto Raju, Pedro Manzi and Ameerudeen to get the better of their hosts. Grenadian forward Antonio German scored off a penalty to give Gokulam an early lead and then V.P. Suhair got one back with a brilliant individual effort but it turned out to be futile for coach Bino George’s side in the end.
Gokulam coach Bino George opted for a change of tactics on the day playing Antonio German on the right wing and Suhair as the target man up front. Surprisingly both Baoringdao Bodo, the goal scorer in the last game and S. Rajesh, who has been so impressive in the Hero I-League did not get a start.
Pritam Singh started the game and Deepak Kumar was also replaced by under-22 Monotosh Chakladar in defence.
Chennai’s Singaporean coach Akbar Nawas, on the other hand, played Gaurav Bora in defence instead of Tarif Akhand who had been getting starts in a straight under-22 swap.
In what turned out to be a free-flowing and open game of football, Gokulam started stronger in the attack. As early as the second minute, German cut through and floated in a left-footed cross which was met by Suhair inside the visitor’s box and lobbed up for Arjun Jayaraj who executed a wonderful bicycle kick which was blocked by Kabir Taufik in the Chennai goal.
Referee Crystal John, however, saw an infringement in the melee and pointed to the penalty spot. German slotted home to give the hosts an early lead.
Bino had thrown everything into the ring with the introduction of Rajesh early in the second half as well as new Ivorian signing Kouassi later in the half. However, try as they might, the Chennai defence led by the unsung Spaniard Roberto Eslava held firm to help them come away with a crucial three away points.
Mudde Musa, the Gokulam captain, lashed out at Ameerudeen in clear frustration, in the dying minutes of the match to get the first marching orders of the Hero I-League 2018-19 season.
Source: Hero I League