The match commissioner had alleged that the game wasn’t played in full spirit.
It was only a few days ago when Chennai City were on top of the world, as they defeated defending champions Minerva Punjab in the final game to clinch their maiden I-League title. However, their celebrations were marred by reports of the match commissioner suggesting the game between the two sides wasn’t played in a fair manner.
The hosts trailed in just the third minute, as Roland Bilala shocked them with an early strike. However, it seemed like Chennai were never going to settle fior that scoreline and they proved it. They turned around the game in their favour by a sensational second half display that saw them score thrice and reward themselves with a superb comeback victory.
Yet, there was a lot of fuss around social media, stating that Minerva had allegedly benched a couple of their key players in the second half (goalscorer Roland and Juan Quero). Some followers of the league also went on to brand the game as ‘fixed’ by the two sides.
To add to the misery, the commissioner of the match, Balasubramaniam, wrote in his report that ‘the game was not played in true spirits.’ This created quite a controversy over social media. Although, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and even the continental governing body Asian Football Confederation (AFC), who were present at the venue, denied any such claims.
Yet, the commissioner went on to add in his report that while taking a penalty in the 56th minute, Chennai talisman Pedro Manzi allegedly gestured in the direction he was to score. Still, the Spaniard managed to score from the spot, as Minerva keeper Nidhin Lal dived in the opposite direction. But, Manzi reportedly went on to justify his gesture after the game, stating he does so very often so as to confuse the keeper and there isn’t any other intention to it.
Meanwhile, some media reports went on to allege that Manzi never attempted such an action in previous penalty incidents.
While defending his side, Minerva owner Ranjit Bajaj also had a few words to say. He told The Telegraph, “to question a team’s substitutions is simply outrageous.”
“In the last four to five matches, Roland had not played a single full game. So, what’s the big deal? We brought in Moinuddin (Khan) to replace Makan Chote to bring more energy into the game. Just because Roland scored a third-minute goal doesn’t mean he will play the whole 90 minutes,” asserted Bajaj.