Resilient Jamshedpur holds East Bengal to a goalless draw
The action-packed Matchday 1 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League came to an end as the fans witnessed the season’s first goalless clash between the two bottom-placed sides of the previous edition, East Bengal and Jamshedpur.
The action was heavily dominated by the defenders as the final scoreline remained 0-0 at the full-time. The Torchbearers failed to outscore the Red Miners for the second consecutive time at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata.
Carles Cuadrat started Prabsukhan Singh Gill in goal with Nishu Kumar, skipper Harmanjot Khabra, Jose Pardo, and Mandar Rao Dessai playing in defense. Souvik Chakrabarti, Saul Crespo, and Borja Herrera played in the middle of the park with Naorem Roshan Singh, Borja Herrera, and Nandhakumar Sekar starting in attack.
Meanwhile, the Jamshedpur gaffer Scott Cooper named his maiden ISL starting lineup consisting of five players making their debuts in the Indian top-flight league. The likes of Ritwik Das and Petar Sliskovic missed their season opener due to injuries while the captain’s armband was donned by the debutant Alen Stevanovic.
TP Rehenesh started in goal protected by a back three of Pratik Chaudhari, Elsinho, and PC Laldinpuia. Nikhil Barla, Pronay Halder, Jeremy Manzorro, Imran Khan, and Nongdamba Naorem were deployed in midfield with the duo of Stevanovic and Daniel Chima Chukwu taking the mantle of producing the goals this season for the Red Miners.
The midfield maestro Borja Herrera kick-started the Red and Gold Brigade’s 2023-24 campaign by taking the first kick against the neighborhood rivals who turned up in White and Blue kits.
The home team had an aggressive start to the eastern encounter after encashing four corner kicks within the span of 10 minutes. Naorem Mahesh Singh showcased stellar skills from the left flank and kept testing the opposition keeper TP Rehenesh throughout the initial phase of the game. The Red Miners took their time to settle down while battling out against the EB’s early attacks but none of their progressive moves could barge into the box.
Pronay Haldar became the first player of the night to get booked by the referee Jamal Mohamed in the 26th minute after sharing a heated moment with the host players.
The Torchbearers came very close to breaking the deadlock in the 38th minute but it was eventually missed by Javier Siverio. Borja did a commendable job by setting up the ball for his countryman in front of the goal but the Spanish striker couldn’t attempt a tap-in and ended up striking it over the bar. Jamshedpur continued to protect their goal line with immense confidence in the final minutes of the first half as both combatants headed back to the dressing room on a 0-0 scoreline.
Cleiton Silva’s inclusion in the 59th minute was an expected one but Cuadrat surprised everyone by bringing in the Brazilian forward in place of Borja who was the only shining star in the EB attack. Cooper responded to the tactical changes of the counterpart manager assertively and came up with a triple substitution.
Debutante Rei Tachikawa and Sanan Mohammed added a refreshing breeze to the offensive unit of the Red Miners and started making trouble for the Red and Gold Brigade.
A couple of off-the-ball challenges by the players from both teams in the middle of injury time heated up the environment and forced the referee to take disciplinary measures. Emil Benny was initially shown a red card for his act of pushing down Saul Crespo however, the decision was eventually taken back and the young midfielder slipped away with a yellow booking only.
The rest of the action could not produce any goal-scoring threat to either side as the remaining minutes passed with both combatants gradually inching toward a goalless settlement.
Despite holding 55.9% of ball possession, the Kolkata-based outfit only managed to attempt three shots on target and none of them could surpass the guardian TP Rehenesh. Elsinho fearlessly led the defensive line with a whopping 11 clearances and earned the Hero of the Match honor in his debut ISL appearance.
Carles Cuadrat’s men have plenty to work on before their next scheduled fixture with the former champions Hyderabad at the same venue on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Jharkhand-based club will be flying all the way down south to take on the Tuskers from God’s Own Country on Sunday.