Kolkata: East Bengal, the defending champions of the Calcutta Football League began their title defence in style beating NBP Rainbow AC club 4-1, in their opening match here in the East Bengal football ground.
Midfielder VP Suhair scored a hat trick, while debutant Brandon Vanlalremdika also put his name on the scoresheet, to bring up the win for the home team. Chotu Mondal scored a consolation goal for the Rainbow AC , who were outplayed for most of the match.
Both the teams started the game on brighter note, However, the Kolkata giants were on the front foot right from the word go, as former Aizwal FC players Brandon and Landanmawia put up some brilliant crosses from the wings, that kept the rainbow defence on it’s toe for most of the match.
Chances for the Kolkata Giants came flowing in as early as the second minute when a long range effort by Mulkick went just wide of the goalkeeper. Al Amna who had great game in his debut match for the club almost scored the opening goal, as his free-kick in the 17th minute of the match just missed the goal by a few inches.
With rain covering the East Bengal ground throughout the match, a lot of long balls were seen played in the course of the match. It was one such ball from the defence that evaded the NBP back line and fell into the path of Suhair who slotted the ball into the goal with a beautiful volley, to open the scoring as early as the 19th minute.
A special mention must be made of the Rainbow players as they did not look intimidated for even once against their stronger opponents.
In the 44th minute, another cross from Danmawia saw Suhair receive the ball, a great first touch followed by a turn and resulted in the second goal for Khalid Jamil’s men.
The second half saw Suhair complete his hat-trick in style in the 46th minute, when he run past his marker to put the ball over the goalie into the net. It was his first hat-trick for the club and the first of the season.
Winger Brandon Vanlalremdika, signed from last year’s I-League champions Aizwal FC, scored on his debut with a stunner in the 73rd minute, to decline any chances of a comeback for the newly promoted side Rainbow AC.
Hero of the day, VP Suhair was soon substituted as Jamil looked to kill the game. He came off to a standing ovation from the crowd replaced by the seasoned campaigner Cavin Lobo.
The rest of the game saw Rainbow put up a desperate fight to salvage some pride, which saw them score one through Chotu Mondal, who left the East Bengal defence gasping for breath with his run and rounded off the keeper Barreto to score a consolation goal for the away side.
The match could have seen more goals if not for some brilliant saves by both the goalkeepers combined with some poor decisions from the referee. The best example of which would be the handball by a Rainbow defender in the ninth minute of the match, which the referee questionably turned down.
East Bengal who hold the record for becoming the CFL champions for seven consecutive years (2010-2016), next take on the Calcutta Customs Club on the 16th of August and will be missing few key players in Arnab Mondal, Nikhil Poojari and Salam Ranjan Singh who will be joining the national team for a training camp before the international Champions Cup and the AFC Asian Qualifiers.