ISL shambles as Goa rush from airport for 11pm kick-off in Kolkata

By Samindra Kunti

January 5 – The Indian Super league descended into farce after FC Goa’s match against Atletico de Kolkata was forced to kick off at 11pm after the team were stranded when their flight from Goa to Bengal was delayed. Eventually, the game kicked off at 11pm with the visitors salvaging a draw. 

In the aftermath of a MiG-29K aircraft catching fire after skidding off the runway at Goa’s Dabolim International Airport, FC Goa were left stranded at the airport the entire day before a chartered flight flew the team to Kolkata. 

The Goans touched down at 8:59pm and drove straight to the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, the venue for their game against ATK. In October, England won the U-17 World Cup against Spain at the ground. 

Kick-off had been slated for 9 pm, but fans had to wait until 10.45 pm to see the ball rolling. On the pitch Ireland’s Robbie Keane nodded in a Ryan Taylor free kick to exploit the rustiness of the opponents after just four minutes, but Ferran Corominas equalised 20 minutes later. 

FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera was left fuming after the game which ended well past midnight. He said that the game should have been declared ‘force majeure.’ 

“We accepted the change from December 31 and agreed to play the match on January 3,” said Lobera. “But within the prevailing circumstances and causes that were there today, I think it called for a force majeure.”

“We respect what’s been told to us,” continued Lobera. “But obviously it’s not what we would have liked. Never in my life, I’ve seen a situation like this in professional football. ISL is a great league and it does not deserve matches like this.”

He also said that the health of his players was on the line. “The health of players is paramount and we took a big risk in that,” lamented Lobera. “We are not the ones to make a decision whether we should play or not. It’s the people who make rules should tell us whether we should play or not.”

An ISL official blamed FC Goa’s team management and questioned their strategy to fly out via a chartered plane, according to the Press Trust of India. “They had 48 hours to reach Kolkata and also got reservations for 36 members,” said the official. “They could have flown in 36 and the remaining from the technical staff could have come on the match day. It could have been avoided.”

Pune City currently top the ISL table on 16 points after nine match days.

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