IT WAS A GAME LITTERED WITH arguments and borderline altercations when Chennai City FC faced off with Basundhara Kings at the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup today.
Billed as a clash between the Champions of India and the Champions of Bangladesh, this match not only had intrigue over the high profile participants but also because both CCFC and Basundhara lost their opening matches; both were desperate for a win to stay alive in the race to semi-final.
Basundhara Kings got an early goal on the 6th minute through Jalal Kdouh and Chennai City appeared to have trouble dealing with their pressure early on. But soon something happened that changed the nature of the game.
Halfway into the first half, CCFC's Katsumi Yusa had an argument with the referee over a decision regarding a foul. At this point, something happened that immediately angered Yusa and the Japanese midfielder who during his long career in India has always been known for his calm and cheerful demeanour got into an argument with the referee. According to the match commentators, he even kicked at the table of the fourth official off-camera. He was given a red card for the outburts and after several minutes, during which the entire Chennai City team stood off the pitch to protest the way Katsumi was treated, the match finally resumed.
Following the incident the Chennai City official Twitter handle revealed that one of their players (presumably Katsumi) had been targeted with racist and abusive language.
Targetted derogatory and racist remarks are extremely impudent and harmful for the person at the receiving end. Chennai City FC can confirm one of our players was racially abused by the referee in today's Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup game against Bashundhara Kings. (1/2)
When the match did resume, Chennai City seemed to be playing with renewed vigour. The players adapted a much more physical and aggressive style of play and it wasn't long before Pedro Manzi scored to get the 10-man Chennai City FC equal before half-time. However, with the bitterness over the Katsumi affair continuing in the sidelines, staff of the two teams got involved in an argument again and the referee sent off CCFC head coach Akbar Nawas for words exchanged with Basundhara head coach Oscar Bruzon.
The tackle-ridden game continued in the second half and near the hour mark Basundhara got the lead again through Duyshobekov. Not long after, CCFC defender Robert Eslava got his second yellow, reducing the team to 9 players. However, just minutes later, Mashoor Shereef took advantage of the Basundhara keeper's mistake and found the equalizer.
It was 2-2 and the battle became intense in the remaining few minutes. Both sides created chances, with Chennai City giving a good account of themselves despite having 2 less men. For a few minutes, they even went down to 8 men when one of their players had to step out to receive treatment for an injury.
But Basundhara Kings managed to edge out the win when Jalal managed to get another goal in the 88th minute.
You can watch this entire crazy game right here courtesy Channel 9.
This win means that Basundhara Kings will have a chance to get into the semi-finals if they beat Terengganu FC in their last game.
Chennai City, meanwhile, have no chance to make it to the semis now and they are going into their last group stage game against Gokulam Kerala FC with a big deficit; two of their players are out with red cards and their coach is also suspended.
But more importantly, CCFC got an early look at their future AFC Cup group stage opponents and given the way they were able to compete with Basundhara Kings despite being heavily outnumbered should give head coach Akbar Nawas something to be hopeful about despite today's eventful loss.
As for the allegations of racism, given the way the club has gone public with it it's sure to be taken up by the AFC, who will hopefully do an in-depth investigation into the matter and unearth any wrongdoing.