I-League Roundup: Kenkre starts brightly, Defending Champs Gokulam mean business

The 2022-23 edition of the Hero I-league kicked off at Manjeri, Kerala. After a two-year hiatus, the league is finally back in its traditional home and away format with fans finally back in the stands.

A greater prize awaits at the finish line for the teams as the champions of this year’s campaign will get promotion to the Indian Super League 2023-24 edition after the AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey confirmed the same.

The match week 1 of the Hero I-league 2022-23 which included some fierce battles, comes to an end, we take a look through the major happenings from the past week.

Defending champs begin with a victory 

In the opening fixture of the Hero I-league 2022-23, defending champions Gokulam Kerala FC defeated Mohammedan SC at the Manjeri Payyanad Stadium 1-0 to kick off their campaign on the perfect note.

The score remained 0-0 after an end-to-end first half. Gokulam Kerala FC broke the deadlock in the 57th minute of the game. Their new forward signing Cameroonian Auguste Somlaga’s shot from outside the box slipped through the hands of Mohammedan custodian Zothanmawia and the ball crossed the goal line. Mohammedan SC, who are also considered as a strong contenders for the title this season having just missed the title last season finishing in 2nd spot, will have to take a look into their defense as they allowed Gokulam multiple chances inside the box in an highly physical contest.

RoundGlass Punjab FC come out on top against the Sreenidhi Deccan FC

RoundGlass Punjab FC kicked off their campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Sreenidhi Deccan FC on Sunday, November 14 at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, Haryana.

RoundGlass Punjab FC took the lead in the 23rd minute through Luka Majcen. Brandon Vanlalremdika chipped in a cross for the Slovenian who smartly placed it beyond the keeper via his near post. Samuel Lalmuanpuia’s free-kick goal in the 43rd minute doubled the lead for the side from Punjab. The midfielder took the freekick which was awarded after Luka Majcen was brought down at the edge of the penalty area.

A positive start for Roundglass Punjab with two first-half goals however manner in which they conceded in the second half would be something they would want to avoid. Sreenidhi Deccan’s consolation goal came in the 58th minute from Shahabaaz Khan after Freddy failed to clear his line allowing Rosenberg Gabriel to send in a cross which despite the best efforts from Kiran Linmu was not enough.

10-man Rajasthan United FC defeats Churchill Brothers FC Goa 

In another high-intensity game, Rajasthan United FC got the better of Churchill Brothers FC Goa 2-1 to start their campaign with a win. The Rajasthan outfit has been on an upward run ever since they made their presence in the national league and after some solid transfer season, the clubs look ready to battle it out against the best in the league.

Martin Chavas looks like a great acquisition for the club. The 24-year-old Uruguayan setup both goals for his side and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions himself. This was the second time these two sides faced each other this season with the earlier fixture coming in the Baji Rout Cup 2022 final which the Desert Warriors trumped as the champions.

Rajasthan United FC took the lead in the 29th minute of the game through Melroy Assisi off a Martin Chaves corner. Abdoulaye Sane then found the back of the net in the stoppage time of the first half and brought the red machines back in the game.

Despite starting off brightly, the goan outfit failed to finish off the final third as they were soon left to rue their chance with the Rajasthan finding the net for the second time in the game. Britto PM received a brilliant back-heel pass from Martin Chaves and curled a first-time shot into the back of the net.

Rajasthan defender Hardik Bhat was sent off in the 84th minute after receiving his second yellow card which gave Churchill a numerical advantage, though, they couldn’t capitalize.

Kenkre No Pushovers this time

Having finished bottom of the table last season, Kenkre were given a lifeline to survive relegation after they were reinstated to I League season by AIFF. The closure of the Indian Arrows project played a major part in their reinstatement.

The Mumbai outfit showcased they belong and are no pushovers this time around as they displayed some courage going forward in attack while displaying gritty defensive performance. Playing with an all-Indian playing XI, Kenkre defeated Sudeva Delhi FC to open their points tally from the very first game.

One of the brightest prospects from Mumbai, Azza Noorani who made his league debut capped off the occasion with a clean strike behind the Sudeva Keeper to score the winner for his side. Earlier in the day Faiz Khan too had scored his maiden I League goal. A competitive Kenkre side and good season in I league will bode well for Mumbai Football.

Positive start for Real Kashmir under Wadoo, Aizwal, TRAU share spoils

Real Kashmir FC began the I-League season on a winning note, beating hosts Neroca FC 1-0. Having parted ways with David Robertson who had been with the club for 6 years, Real Kashmir had signed former India International Mehrajuddin Wadoo, who hails from Kashmir himself.

The first half of the match at Khuman Lampak Stadium was dominated by the Kashmir side and Neroca FC was slow to get off the blocks. Despite RKFC’s intent, the deadlock could not be broken and the scoreline remained 0-0 at halftime. It was Issahak Nuhu’s excellent 53rd-minute strike that sealed all three points for new head coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo’s team. A tougher test awaits ahead and it will be interesting to see how the clubs goes forward.

Meanwhile at the picturesque Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl, Mizoram the spoils were shared between Aizawl FC and TRAU FC as the game ended 1-1. A goal in each half by Sagolsem Bikash Singh and K Lalrinfela for TRAU and Aizawl, respectively, meant that the two sides went home with a point each, as per a press release from the I-League.

Also Read: Rampant Mumbai City FC win 4-0 as Bengaluru FC misery deepens with fourth consecutive loss

Also Read: Bharat football academy launched in Bangalore

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