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Jahouh’s masterpiece, Ogbeche’s return, Bengaluru’s lifeline



Ahmed Jahouh

In the latest round of Indian Super League (ISL) matches, Mumbai City FC had another big win, but Bartholomew Ogbeche made sure that Hyderabad FC stayed close behind the leaders.

We talk about an ISL weekend with a lot of goals.

Ahmed Jahouh’s Kerala Blasters masterclass

Kerala Blasters didn’t stand a chance against Mumbai City in the most anticipated ISL match of the week, and maybe the whole season. Mumbai won because they scored four goals in the first half and the Blasters did nothing to stop them.

Mumbai set up in their usual 4-3-3, with Apuia and Greg Stewart on either side of Jahouh. Ivan Vukomanovic didn’t change from his high-pressing 4-2-2-2 style. And that’s when Jahouh stepped in to leave his mark on the game.

In the middle of the field, Mumbai had more players, but the Blasters’ strategy was to press hard and catch their opponents off guard. Because of his technical skills, Jahouh is one of the midfielders in the league who can handle pressure the best. When he was able to beat the press and get players out of the game, the Blasters’ defensive shape was easy to see.

Jahouh, in particular, was quick to see that the long ball behind Harmanjot Khabra, who was playing right back in place of the suspended Sandeep Singh, was a huge chance for Mumbai City. Bipin Singh kept running behind Khabra, but Jahouh and the others kept finding him, and before the Blasters knew what hit them, the game was over.

Mumbai City celebrate their dominant 4-0 win over Kerala Blasters
Mumbai City celebrating their dominant 4-0 win over Kerala Blasters

Before the hour mark, Jahouh was taken off. He was having so much fun that he almost scored with a risky shot from inside his own half.

The dynamic pressing system that Vukomanovic made was his team’s downfall against Mumbai, and one of the best midfielders this league has ever seen was there like it was just another day at the office. Oh, and Mumbai City was so strong that they could take off Jahouh, Apuia, Stewart, Bipin, and Lallinzuala Chhangte before 75 minutes were up.

Never doubt Bartholomew Ogbeche

Last week in this column, we wondered if Bartholomew Ogbeche would have to pray to a higher power to get his goal-scoring touch back. This week, the ISL’s top scorer of all time either asked that power for help or just told everyone to calm down and stop doubting him.

Hyderabad are doing well to be so close to Mumbai City in the race for the title, but it looked like they were going to have a tough night in Goa. The home team, FC Goa, was in charge for a lot of the game and made it hard for Hyderabad to catch up to the league leaders.

Ogbeche said, “Not on my watch!” in a very clear way. In the first half, a header put Hyderabad ahead, but Goa’s Redeem Tlang tied it up, and time was running out for Hyderabad to find the winning goal.

Bart Ogbeche
Bart Ogbeche got Hyderabad FC on the board first against FC Goa.

Then, the tiger in Ogbeche that had been poached woke up. After some back and forth in the penalty area, he found one in the six-yard box and smashed it into the top of the net. A few minutes later, Hyderabad won because of another header.

There is hope where Saint Bartholomew is.

Odisha break out of a small rut

Odisha FC hadn’t won in four games before their match against East Bengal at the Kalinga Stadium. This was hurting their chances of making the playoffs for the first time ever. When Cleiton Silva jumped on some doubts about Amrinder Singh to give East Bengal the lead, it felt like Odisha was going through a painful story it had heard before.

But the people of Odisha have their own Ogbeche. His name is Diego Mauricio. He made sure East Bengal’s lead only lasted 12 minutes by pushing Lalchungnunga out of the way so he could meet Raynier Fernandes’ corner and put the ball in the bottom corner. Then, he set up Nandhakumar Sekar’s cross-turned-shot, which put Odisha in front. Then he went around Ivan Gonzalez and sped away from him like he wasn’t there. Then he scored his second goal of the night.

Odisha FC players celebrate Diego Mauricio's goal against East Bengal.
Odisha FC players celebrate Diego Mauricio’s goal against East Bengal. 

Odisha’s most valuable asset is Mauricio, and as long as he is around, you can’t count them out. Getting some momentum back should also help the team of Josep Gombau.

Chennaiyin’s spirit rescues a point where two were lost

This season, how would you describe Chennaiyin FC? Most of the time, they are fun to watch, but it’s easy to see how their fans might want to pull out their hair every time they see the team play.

Chennaiyin couldn’t finish the chances they had in the first half against a Jamshedpur FC team that didn’t have much confidence. By the hour mark, they were already two goals down. Two of their goals were stopped by the crossbar, but Vincy Barretto and Petar Sliskovic made sure Thomas Brdaric’s team got a point.

But in the race to get into the playoffs, Chennaiyin lost ground to sixth-placed FC Goa in a game that they should have won.

Bengaluru give themselves a lifeline

Bengaluru FC still has a long way to go to make the playoffs, but this week they barely made it. Alan Costa scored a late winner against NorthEast United for the second time this season, making sure that Bengaluru didn’t lose all hope.

BFC's Sivasakthi celebrates after scoring against NorthEast United
BFC’s Sivasakthi celebrates after scoring against NorthEast United

Simon Grayson would have been happy with Sivasakthi Narayanan’s beautiful first ISL goal, Suresh Wangjam’s encouraging midfield performance, and Udanta Singh’s positive cameo, but the team’s spirit in getting the winning goal in the 94th minute hasn’t been seen much this season.

With seven games left, Bengaluru is only six points away from making the playoffs, but they have to play six of the seven teams above them. There might not be any hope left soon (ish).

Jamshedpur, NorthEast fight to beat ignominy

Jamshedpur needs four points in its last seven games, while NorthEast needs seven points. Why, you might ask? We can see you Chennaiyin fans rubbing your hands together.

The nine points that Chennaiyin got in 2018-19 are still the fewest ever in the league stages of the ISL, but Jamshedpur and NorthEast are both in danger of getting even fewer points in what has been a terrible season for both teams.

In this race, it doesn’t help either team that they lost points this week. Jamshedpur should have gotten two more points, but they couldn’t hold on to their 2-0 lead, and NorthEast couldn’t hold on for a tie in injury time. We’re running out of time.

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Luis Rubiales FIFA Ban: Three-Year Prohibition by FIFA



Luis Rubiales delivering a speech at a press conference

The global governing body of football, FIFA, delivered a strong message on Monday as it issued the Luis Rubiales FIFA ban, prohibiting former Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales from all activities related to the sport for a period of three years. This consequential decision comes in the wake of a controversy that emerged during the Women’s World Cup earlier this year. Reports revealed that Rubiales was found guilty of gross misconduct, specifically for an incident that overshadowed Spain’s victory at the World Cup trophy ceremony in Sydney.

The Controversial Incident

A disciplinary committee was promptly assembled to investigate the disturbing incident, yet the specifics of the verdict have not been disclosed to the public. Rubiales faced severe charges related to what FIFA described as a violation of the “basic rules of decent conduct” and “behaving in a way that brings the sport of football and/or FIFA into disrepute.” The episode in question pertains to an incident where Rubiales forcibly kissed a Spanish player on the lips during the trophy ceremony, tainting what should have been a moment of triumph for the nation’s football team.

Misconduct and Resignation

The aftermath of the incident was marked by Rubiales’s initial defiance and refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing, leading to a prolonged period of controversy. However, mounting pressure from various quarters, including the Spanish government and the national team players, eventually forced Rubiales to resign from his esteemed position within the Spanish football hierarchy. The incident not only tarnished Rubiales’s reputation but also cast a shadow over the accomplishments of the national team.

Ban and Appeal

While the FIFA ban on Luis Rubiales has been imposed for a duration of three years, Rubiales still has the option to contest the verdict. FIFA has granted him a window of ten days to request a review of the decision, following which he can file an appeal with the governing body. It remains to be seen how Rubiales will proceed in light of this substantial ban.

Luis Rubiales wearing a black blazer at an event

The Response and Controversy

Despite facing widespread backlash, Rubiales has garnered some support, notably from his mother, Angeles Bejar. In a bold demonstration of solidarity, she initiated a hunger strike to protest what she described as “the inhumane and bloody hunt” against her son. While some may sympathize with Rubiales, the gravity of the incident and the subsequent ban imposed by FIFA underscore the importance of maintaining integrity and respect within the world of professional sports.

In conclusion, FIFA’s decisive action against Luis Rubiales serves as a reminder that no individual, regardless of their position, is above the fundamental values of respect and sportsmanship that form the bedrock of football’s global community. As the sport continues to evolve, the need for upholding ethical standards remains paramount, ensuring that the spirit of fair play and camaraderie endures for generations to come.

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Rubiales Scandal: Soccer’s Integrity Unveiled



Rubiales and Jenni Hermoso

Exploring the Rubiales Scandal and Its Implications
In the world of soccer, where triumphs and controversies intertwine, the recent incident involving the president of the Spanish soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, has ignited a fiery debate. Reports from Spanish media suggest that Rubiales might resign from his position after five years of leading the body. The controversy stems from an episode where he kissed a player during a celebration and his subsequent actions during a significant match. This article delves into the details of the incident, the potential repercussions, and the broader implications for both Rubiales and the soccer community.

The Kiss that Stirred Controversy
The Spanish soccer federation president found himself in hot water due to an unexpected gesture. Following Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup final, Rubiales kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy and medal ceremony. This gesture, intended to be celebratory, quickly became the center of attention and sparked a wave of discussions.
The incident prompted FIFA, the global governing body of soccer, to intervene. FIFA’s disciplinary committee initiated an inquiry to determine whether Rubiales’ actions violated the organization’s code of conduct and brought the sport and FIFA into disrepute. The core issue here is whether Rubiales’ behavior aligns with the principles of decency expected from a soccer official.

Amidst the uproar, reports surfaced indicating that Rubiales might step down from his role as the president of the Spanish soccer federation. The speculation has fueled further debates about whether resignation is an appropriate response to the controversy. If Rubiales indeed resigns, it would mark the end of his five-year tenure at the helm of the organization.The incident has drawn mixed reactions from both the public and the players. While some view the kiss as a harmless expression of celebration, others see it as an inappropriate breach of professional boundaries. Player Jenni Hermoso expressed discomfort with the kiss, and the national players’ union, once led by Rubiales, called for accountability regarding his actions.
FIFA issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to upholding the integrity of all individuals associated with the sport. The organization condemned any behavior that contradicts this commitment. While FIFA did not specify the exact acts under investigation, their emphasis on maintaining the sport’s reputation is clear.
Beyond the kiss, Rubiales’ conduct during the match drew attention. He was seen making a gesture by grabbing his crotch as a victory celebration. This action further added to the controversy, raising questions about appropriate behavior for a soccer official, especially in the presence of dignitaries.
The FIFA disciplinary panel has the authority to impose various sanctions on individuals found in violation of its code of conduct. These sanctions can range from warnings and fines to suspensions from soccer-related activities. The severity of the punishment will depend on the outcome of the investigation and the panel’s assessment of the situation.
Luis Rubiales holds the position of vice president at UEFA, the governing body for soccer in Europe. This role carries both prestige and responsibilities. The controversy has yet to garner a response from UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin, leaving the soccer community curious about the organization’s stance on the issue.
Rubiales is currently spearheading a bid to host the men’s World Cup in 2030, a joint effort involving Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and possibly Ukraine. However, his involvement in the Rubiales Scandal has raised concerns about the bid’s viability and the image projected to potential supporters.
The incident has wider implications for both the Spanish soccer federation and the broader soccer landscape. It highlights the importance of maintaining professionalism and ethical conduct within the sport’s leadership. The outcome of this controversy could set a precedent for addressing similar situations in the future.
As the Spanish soccer federation holds an emergency meeting to address the situation, the soccer community awaits a decision. The meeting’s outcome will not only impact Rubiales’ future but also shape the federation’s trajectory. The controversies surrounding this incident underscore the need for open discussions about behavior expectations and consequences.
The Rubiales Scandal serves as a reminder that even in the world of sports, actions can have far-reaching consequences. The incident involving the kiss and subsequent gestures has ignited discussions about leadership, professionalism, and the image projected by soccer officials. As FIFA investigates the matter, the soccer community anticipates the outcome and the potential shifts it may bring.

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Vlahovic Double Helps Juventus beat Salernitana 3-0.



Dusan Vlahovic

Juventus beat Salernitana 3-0 in Serie A on Tuesday, with striker Dusan Vlahovic scoring two goals and setting up another to lift the visitors to 10th in the table.

Vlahovic, a Serb who has been injured a lot this season but played in the league for the first time since October, found his old form again in this match.

Hans Nicolussi gave Juventus a penalty kick when he sent Manuel Locatelli off in the 26th minute. Vlahovic converted the penalty.

Vlahovic almost scored a second goal in the 37th minute, but his shot from the edge of the box from an acute angle went just past the post.

At the end of the first half, Filip Kostic made it 2-0 when he tapped the ball in from close range after Vlahovic’s initial shot had bounced into his path.

In the last seconds before the halftime break, Locatelli ran into the penalty area unchallenged and gave Juventus a chance to score a third goal. However, Salernitana goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa reacted quickly to prevent Locatelli from lobbing the ball over him.

80 seconds into the second half, Vlahovic scored his second goal when he ran through the penalty area and shot the ball flat into the right corner.

In the 51st minute, Junior Zambia hit a cross that reached almost everyone in the box, but Salernitana striker Boulaye Dia could not stretch far enough to put the ball in the open net.

“The team responded well and we played a good first half. But after taking a 3-0 lead, we got a little too comfortable and allowed too many shots on goal. We did not move enough and stayed in the same places, and the players know we have to do better,” Allegri said.

“In the first 10 minutes we played the ball too often down the right side. We need to improve the passing game, become more supple and keep things simple.”

Angel Di Maria hit the crossbar after 53 minutes and Moise Kean hit the post just before the end of the game, preventing Juve from adding to their tally.

The win moved Juventus to 26 points after 21 games, while Salernitana dropped to 21 points and 16th place.

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