Punjab Football Club held Chennaiyin FC in the Kalinga Super Cup

Bhubaneswar, January 11th: Punjab FC (PFC) were held on to a 1-1 draw by Chennaiyin FC in their first match of Group C in the Kalinga Super Cup being played here at the Kalinga Stadium. Wilmar Jordan Gil scored for Punjab in the fourth minute and the score was equalised in the 81st minute through a Jordan Murray header. Both team were reduced to ten men with Amarjit Singh Kiyam for Punjab FC and Rafael Crivellaro for Chennaiyin were sent off.

PFC Head Coach Staikos Vergetis experimented with his starting lineup setting his team out on a 4-4-2 formation with Captain Luka Majcen and Wilmar Jordan Gil starting up front. Nepal international Kiran Kumar Limbu started in goal while Dimitrios Chatziisaias and Suresh Meitei started as centre backs supported by Tekcham Abhishek Singh and Nitesh Darjee in the wings. The defence was supported by Nikhil Prabhu, Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Ricky Shabong in the centre of the midfield allowing playmaker Madih Talal a free role in the midfield.  

Punjab FC pressurised the Chennaiyin defence pressing the ball high and found the result in the fourth minute of the game. Nikhil Prabhu won the ball in midfield and released Madih Talal whose looping cross was met expertly by Wilmar Jordan in the back post giving Shers the lead. Chennaiyin FC responded well creating pressure in the Punjab box, finding space with long balls behind the defence. Jordan Murray forced a fingertip save from Kiran Limbu in the 11th minute before Wilmar Jordan scuffed a chance to double the lead for Punjab as he lost his footing on an one on one situation with the goalkeeper inside the box. Chennaiyin were trying to increase the pressure on Punjab, who now were content to play on counter attacks but the Marina Machans could not break the defence who thwarted every attack with conviction. Chennaiyin won 6 corners in the first half but could not trouble the PFC keeper even once.

Amarjit Singh Kiyam was controversially shown the red card before halftime as the yellow card which was shown for the foul on Ninthoi Meetei was changed to a red card by the referee. Head Coach Staikos Vergetis was shown the red card for the altercation with the referee after this decision along with Nikolaos Tsagkatakis from the bench.

Punjab FC started brought Khaimingthang Lhungdim to shore up the defence and soon brought in Krishnananda Singh in place of Madih Talal. The Punjab defence were not allowing much space for the Chennaiyin attack to create chances even as they were dominating possession against the 10 men. Ricky Shabong tested Samik Mitra on the other end with a long ranger which was saved by the keeper. On the other end, Kiran Kumar was in fine form pulling out a couple of saves to deny Chennaiyin the equaliser.

Chennaiyin were also down to ten men, when Rafael Crivellaro was shown his second yellow card making the numbers even for both teams in the 70th minute. The match was now evenly poised with both teams playing for three points and the introduction of Juan Mera gave Punjab FC more confidence going up front. Chennaiyin finally got the equaliser in the 81st minute through Jordan Murray who jumped the highest to a Connor Shields cross to bury it past Kiran Kumar Limbu. Punjab had a chance in injury time to win it but Abhishek Singh’s effort was saved by the Chennaiyin keeper. In the end both teams had to content with a point each.

Punjab FC will face Mumbai City FC in their next group match on 16th January.

Also Read: Maharashtra Oranje FC’s second-half Symphony clinches victory

Also Read: Grand stage, robust antagonists: Blue Tigers await Asian heist

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