Football loses in drawn finale

On a day when Indian Nationals and Hindustan FC were declared “joint winners” of the DSA annual super division after an unfinished,farcical final,there appeared to be only one loser on the field: football.

Written by Saikat Sarkar | New Delhi | Published:February 28, 2009 12:36 am

Bad light stops play,DSA names Indian Nationals & Hindustan FC joint winners after a farcical game

On a day when Indian Nationals and Hindustan FC were declared “joint winners” of the DSA annual super division after an unfinished,farcical final,there appeared to be only one loser on the field: football.

The debate over the format of the league — the two-month long round-robin grind ending in a final — wasn’t over,the way things panned out in the showdown gave more ammo to its critics. It began a good one hour late,and poor light stopped the play just when the two teams were slugging it out in the extra-time. Before anyone could understand anything,the organisers announced the match was a draw,and the teams would share the spoils.

The announcement had contrasting effects on the two outfits. While celebrations broke out in the Hindustan FC dug-out,the Indian Nationals players looked stupefied,even ridiculed.

The Nationals directed all their fury at the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA),accusing the state body of siding with the rivals,who also allegedly played an ineligible player. As a mark of protest,they boycotted the presentation ceremony.

Many of their grievances looked justified. For its part,the DSA failed to complete the final on the unacceptable ground of poor light as the kick-off missed the scheduled 3 pm start by over an hour.

“We couldn’t start the match in time due to the late arrival of our chief guest,” said DSA secretary NK Bhatia,and nonchalantly added: “These delays happen during big matches and the tie-breaker can’t be played tomorrow as we don’t have the ground.”

Flouting rules
The body seems to flout its own rules as and when they fancy. The third-place face-off between New Delhi Heroes and Tarun Sangha was pushed into the tie-breaker without any extra time,but Friday’s final had 15 minutes of added time with seven-and-half-minutes halves each.

“Both teams were informed about the duration of extra time before the tie-breaker. Yesterday,the rules were different. Today,had the players not wasted time before the final whistle there would’ve been a tie-breaker. And this is not the first time there’ve been joint winners,” said Bhatia.

However,Bhatia had no answer to Indian Nationals’ protest against Hindustan striker Sunday,who took to the field despite a double booking earlier in the league. “We aren’t aware of that but no protests are entertained in a final match,” Bhatia said,casually dismissing the issue.

The Indian Nationals players,expectedly,were furious. “This is pathetic,cowardly,” shot back Nationals’ skipper Rishi Kapoor. “Is this what we trained for the last eight months? First of all,there shouldn’t be a final for a league but if you do it,stick to the rules.

“We’re here at 2 pm,then why did the match start only after 4? We wanted to play the game despite poor light,but they (Hindustan FC) didn’t. This was unacceptable,” the former Mohun Bagan player said.

On the field,it was an even contest. The Nationals did play better,but the only real scoring chance in the match came Hindustan’s way when Mohinder was fouled by Tuireising inside the box in the 71st minute. Sunday,however,missed the penalty. Hindustan will keep the trophy for six months after a sulking Kapoor didn’t turn up for the toss to decide who would keep the trophy first.

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