The Chennaiyin FC B team suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Gokulam Kerala FC in their Durand Cup Group D opener at the Howrah Stadium here today. GKFC skipper Marcus Joseph starred with a hat-trick with Ugandan forward Henry Kisekka adding another. The CFC starting eleven had an average age of 19 years, receiving a humbling, learning experience in defeat.
Wing-back Hendry Antonay led the CFC B team out, which saw central defender Ajith K., and midfielders Shubham Mane, Melroy Assisi and Vignesh V. making their first CFC appearances. The other boys in the side have been retained from last season, with the likes of Mohammed Sarif Khan in defence, Joysana Singh on the wings and Bawlte Rohmingthanga upfront. There was a familiar face on the Gokulam bench in Brazilian midfielder Bruno Pelissari, a former fan-favourite who won the Indian Super League title with CFC in 2015, even scoring in the final.
The Kerala side saw more of the ball in the opening stages, while Chennaiyin were a threat on the break. Both sides won a flurry of corners but failed to make the most of it.
CFC’s first meaningful chance fell to Rohmingthanga a.k.a. Minga, whose 25-yard drive from distance tested the keeper. He again went close, later in the half, from Joysana’s inviting cross that Minga turned goalwards, only for the defender to deflect it out for a corner.
Gokulam Kerala stuck the CFC crossbar twice at the other end, with their skipper Marcus Joseph the dangerman. It was Marcus who broke the deadlock before half-time, bundling the ball past CFC keeper Samik Mitra from close range following a cross from the right.
It was all GKFC in the second period, as CFC were forced into a change with an injured Ajith replaced by another debutant Kannan M. at the back. Harsh Bartwal was also taken off for Aman Murti Singh on the wings, the latter also making his first CFC appearance.
But Chennaiyin couldn’t contain Marcus and Kisekka, the latter winning a penalty after a foul by CFC’s Melroy. Skipper Marcus converted to make it 2-0.
It soon became 3-0 when Kisekka was set up by Naocha Singh. CFC were wasteful in possession in midfield, and GKFC made no mistakes in punishing that.
Marcus eventually completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute, after rounding the keeper following a through ball.
CFC B will be aiming to improve in their next encounter against Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC on Friday 16th August at the Howrah Stadium with kick-off at 3 PM.