RoundGlass Punjab FC (RGPFC) suffered a 3-1 loss against Kerala Blasters FC in their first match of the Super Cup 2023 at the EMS Corporation Stadium, here on Saturday.
Dimitrios Diamantakos, Nishu Kumar and Rahul K.P found the net for the team from Kerala while Krishnananda Singh scored the consolation goal for RoundGlass Punjab FC.
RGPFC Head Coach Staikos Vergetis named a strong line up for their first match after securing the I League trophy. I League Goalkeeper of the season Kiran Kumar Limbu started in goal. Hmingthanmawia and Suresh Meitei started as centre halves while Khaimingthang Lhungdim and Mohammed Salah were the wingbacks.
Freddy Lallawmawma, Juan Carlos Nellar, Brandon Vanlalremdika and Maheson Singh started in midfield while the attack line was headed by I League Hero of the season Luka Majcen and I League midfielder of the season Juan Mera Gonzalez. KBFC also fielded their regulars in the opening match of the tournament in their home state.
RGPFC were able to maintain possession in the initial exchanges and were withstanding the pressure from both the field and the stands as the home team had a huge Manjappada support in the stands. The first chance of the half came for KBFC when a Vibin Mohanan set piece was met by Victor Mongil, but the defender mistimed his jump and the attempt went wide.
Both teams were playing with attacking intent as they were creating chances in both halves of the pitch. Juan Mera showed his class as he went on a solo run deceiving two KBFC defenders with his cheeky skill but a timely interception from the defender made sure the score remained goalless.
The KBFC attackers were finding good positions but the RGPFC defence stood firm to deny the home side any clear cut chances. RGPFC keeper Kiran Kumar Limbu also made a save from Saurav Mandal. Sahal Abdul Samad was making life difficult for the RGPFC defence.
KBFC broke the deadlock in the 41st minute through a penalty from Dimitrios Diamantakos. Saurav Mandal was fouled inside the box by Khaimingthang Lhungdim and the penalty was converted by the Greek forward wrong-footing the RGPFC keeper.
Coach Staikos Vergetis brought in Krishnananda Singh for Maheson Singh to shore up the wings for RGPFC in the second half. RGPFC had a good shout for a penalty in the 52nd minute when Krishnananda Singh was brought down, but the referee did not budge to the particular play.
KBFC doubled their lead in the 54th minute through Nishu Kumar. Saurav Mandal attacked through the right flank and cut back a cross to the centre of the box which was missed by Sahal Abdul Samad but it fell for Nishu Kumar who's first time shot found the top corner.
KBFC looked to dictate the pace of the match but RGPFC were playing with intent to close the gap. They had a chance in the 70th minute as Luka Majcen and Krishnananda Singh combined but they failed to convert. RGPFC halved the deficit soon after in the 74th minute.
Juan Mera showed his silky skills and crossed the ball from the right flank to find Krishnananda Singh who finished expertly to keep the game alive. RGPFC increased the pressure on KBFC defence in order to find the equaliser. They had a couple of good chances to find the equaliser but they could not finish the attacks as KBFC defence looked confused.
KBFC slowed down the game by bringing in Mario Leskovic and Jeakson Singh while RGPFC brought in fresh legs in the form of Ajay Chhetri and Ashis Pradhan. Rahul K.P had a chance to finish the game in the 90th minute but his effort was saved by Kiran Kumar. It was Rahul K.P who finished off the game in the fifth minute of injury time by finishing past the RGPFC keeper.
( 654 Words)