Wim Koevermans coached India clawed their way out of a hole they themselves had dug and fought back to end a truly entertaining game against newly-founded Bengaluru FC, coached by Ashley Westwood. The match ended in a dead-heat, with both teams scoring one goal apiece.
With this match, India ended their preparatory camp at Bangalore and now head directly for the SAFF Championship in Nepal, beginning 31st August.
The match itself was supremely entertaining though the pre-match adjudications of Wim Koevermans grabbed all the headlines, albeit for the wrong reasons.
On Sunday, it was revealed that Koevermans had sought a closure of the stadium to audiences and ensue a closed-door match. However, his plan couldn’t see light of day as a large contingent of India fans, numbering nearly 200, swelled at the entrances. With no rhyme or reason to stop them, officials at the stadium let them through, issuing orders for them to behave themselves which was uncalled for.
On seeing the presence of large spectators, the Indian team created a few flutters when they decided not to take the pitch.
“We were initially disappointed when we found out that we were locked out. We love football and want to cheer our Indian team. What is objectionable in that?,” questioned a blue tiger supporter, to The Times Of India.
“It’s every football fan’s right to come and watch his national team play,” argued Karnataka State Football President A R Khaleel, in support of the fans. “Indian football needs all the support and viewership it can get and I spoke to the authorities to ensure that the fans get to see their stars in action.”
It was Khaleel’s intervention and his subsequent discussions with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) that helped the match carry on.
Koevermans finally reneged on his decision and fielded his Indian side, which included hitmen Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh, to raucous and jubilant cheers raining from the stands.
Kicking-off half an hour past scheduled time, the Indian side faced a Bengaluru FC side whose vitality had shone through and were the superior side for three-quarters of the game. Supporting all four foreigners in their squad, Bengaluru FC took the lead through one of them, Johnny Menyongar.
He slotted home a cool penalty around the half hour mark. The Indian side, left wanting through most of the game, finally levelled through Lenny Rodrigues. His brilliantly taken volley from 20-yards out landed in the sweet-spot of the net, i.e. the top corner.
It ended that way, with Wim Koevermans grasping for the positives from the game.
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