Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Nato’s Kolkata one foot into ISL final

Ofentse Nato’s club, Atletico De Kolkata are on the verge of reaching the finals of the Indian Super League (ISL). This comes after the former ISL champions enjoyed a 3-2 win over MumbaI City F.C in the first semi final of the two legged encounter. 

Despite Nato’s absence in the match day squad due to injury, Kolkata forced a win in a highly contested outing that witnessed a shower of goals in the first half.

Looking into reaching their second final in three years, Kolkata needs to work hard to protect their lead as they enter the second game with a slim lead. With the away goal rule in the books, Kolkata are sitting on the edge after conceding two goals in their back yard. Kolkata’s defence in the first leg was suspect after conceding back to back goals due to lack of concentration and mistakes in the heart of defence.

Ahead of the semi final match, Nato featured against FC Pune in their last league match early this month when the side booked a place in the semi final spot. The Zebras star captained Kolkata on the day when his side played to a nil all draw against Pune FC that had no scope of reaching the semi final berth in their last match of the season.

Pairing up in midfield with Jewel Raja, the duo was replaced by Borja Fernandez and Stephen Pearson against Mumbai FC. Retained for a third consecutive season by Kolkata in the Indian league, Nato has proved his mettle for the former champions together with marksman Iain Edward Hume who netted a brace over the weekend. Some of the notable players that played a huge impact on the weekend victory are the likes of South African winger Sameehg Doutie and Lalrindika.

This week, Kolkata will fancy their chances in the reverse away match for a berth in the final. However, Kolkata had a good away run in the league throughout the season and enters the match with hope they will continue their road triumph with the same trend. In another semi final clash, Kerala Blasters emerged victorious against Delhi Dynamos with the return match to be played this week to decide the finalist.

The final match slated for Kochi will be played on the 18th of December to declare champions of the league. While Mumbai qualified for the semi final slot by virtue of being log leaders, Kolkata was placed fourth in the log table with three points behind Mumbai. The second and third positions were Kerala Blasters and Delhi Dynamos respectively.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.