Dhanpal Keeps Date With Kanteerava

Friday, 16 March 2018

Chennaiyin FC midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh will have mixed memories of the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru, as he prepares to take on the might of Bengaluru FC in the Hero Indian Super League final on Saturday.


It was here at the Kanteerava Stadium in March 2015 that India coach Stephen Constantine handed Dhanpal his first start for the national team against Iran in a World Cup qualifier. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was the other player who got his first start. But while the India goalkeeper earned plaudits with some fine saves, Dhanpal had to be taken off in the 14th minute as he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.


He missed the entire season and credit to Chennaiyin FC for showing faith in him as they handed him a one-year extension. He played for Chennai City in the I-League last season and has now emerged as an important player for his side.


When he returned to the Kanteerava Stadium for the first time in close to three years, Dhanpal made it memorable for him and his side as he headed home the match winner at the fag end for a 2-1 victory.


The goal was just confirmation for coach John Gregory that he could trust the sturdy midfielder. At the start of the season, when Dhanpal did not make it to the team for the opener against FC Goa, there were doubts whether the midfielder would be left without game time again this season. But Gregory soon realised the importance of having the midfielder.


“I had sent a text to Ganesh (in the morning). He was still fast asleep. I wanted to see him at the breakfast room. He came in petrified that I was going to punish him. But I gave him the good news that I was starting him (against NorthEast United FC in the next game) and his face changed. I just told him to get ready. I told him that his first touch in the match should be good and he did exactly that. It was an amazing effort from Ganesh,” said the English coach.


Since then he has not disappointed anyone, and as he steps at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium again, he would hope to end up on the winning side, possibly with a goal of his own.