It’s no new that Mumbai gets its sporting laurels from time to time. On March 13, the ISL 2020-21 final between Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan added a feather to Mumbai’s cap. The team won their first-ever Indian Super League (ISL) title at Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa, during the prestigious national league’s seventh edition. What could have been a contest that went smoothly was marred by the injury of Amey Ranawade of Mumbai City, throwing a pall over the Indian Super League 2020-21 canvas and all present at the stadium.
The two teams started off well in sync, but Mumbai City were always the dominators. They kept possession of the ball for almost 60% of the game, much to ATK Mohun Bagan’s chagrin. But the latter too, were no novices when it came to Indian football. The over-100-year legacy of the club ATK Mohun Bagan shone brightly when in the 18th minute of the game, David Williams slammed the ball into the net, taking the score to 1-0 in their favour.
However, Mumbai City FC bounced back in just about 10 minutes. With a touch of luck, a lobbed pass towards the ATK Mohun Bagan goal which Tiri (José Luis Espinosa Arroyo) looked to clear, but his misguided header directed the ball into his own net, giving Mumbai City FC an equaliser. The remaining game saw a tough fight from both sides with numerous close calls. The deadlock was broken when Mumbai City FC striker Bipin Singh scored the winning goal at the 90th minute mark following an error by the ATK Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Arindam. As fate had it, Singh’s goal was decided in the closing minutes of the ISL 2020-21 final with Mumbai City FC edging a 2-1 win over ATK Mohun Bagan to claim the ISL title.
Amid the merriment on Saturday however, there was a moment that left football fans across the country and parts of the globe shudder. Mumbai City FC right-back Amey Ranawade was rushed from the stadium in an ambulance following a serious head injury near the Mumbai City FC bench during the first-half stoppage time.
The injury resulted from a collision between Amey and ATK Mohun Bagan’s Subhasish Bose leading to a concussion to the former. Seconds before, spectators had witnessed both footballers attempt to snatch possession, but the duel turned awry when Amey landed awkwardly on the sidelines unable to maintain balance.
The horrific impact was felt not just by Amey but all players, field staff, medical teams and every other onlooker (visible from their reactions), as the right-back, gasping for air, failed to stand up in over 10 minutes. The cameras were forced to pan away from the youngster’s injury as all rivalries were forgotten, and each one prayed for his immediate recovery.
As the medical staff made their way to the field, mixed reactions of fear, anticipation, and shock from fellow players and teammates changed when the 23-year-old finally got to his feet. But moments later collapsed again due to the residual impact of the injury.
While the commentators exchanged notes exclaiming that young Amey urged his team to continue playing and wished to go back on the field again, the medical staff forced the right-back into the ambulance for further treatment as the half time whistle brought an end to the episode.
An update posted by the Mumbai City FC team on the right-back’s condition read, “Amey suffered a concussion during the first half of this evening’s match. He was given immediate medical treatment on the pitch and transferred directly to the hospital for a full assessment.”
What followed was truly remarkable. Though the incident dealt a blow to the confidence of Amey’s teammates initially, Mumbai City FC head coach Sergio Lobera and his team held their heads high and made it their target to win the title for Amey over the course of the next 45 minutes. “Our focus was on Amey. It was a challenging situation. I told my players to focus on the game because Amey is strong and wants to come back. So, we need to win it for him,” Lobera told a national daily.
Amey joined the post-match revelries and thanked his teammates for a fine performance. He also took to social media telling all that he was feeling better and hoped for a speedy recovery.
As fans and spectators, it is not easy to witness our heroes fall (even for a minute due to injuries), let alone watching them cover their faces with their shirts owing to brutal injury incidents leaving every onlooker losing composure until proceedings improve. What matters here is to be positive and believe that things will be better. Mumbai City FC took this as the impetus to fight for the remaining 45 minutes and emerge on top as champions!
The incident throws light not only on the fact that football, as a competitive contact sport, is an amalgamation of physical prowess combined with emotional fervour. The passion and commitment displayed by Amey is nothing short of putting one’s life on the line for one’s team, no matter the consequences. The intensity of his dedication was visible to all when the 23-year-old was unable to stand straight, but his only intention was to get back on the field to win the title for his team.
As Diego Maradona had reiterated through the years, ‘Football isn’t a game, nor a sport, it is a religion’. Amey’s perseverance last Saturday marks an episode for Indian football that echoed the very same belief. Ketto congratulates the entire Mumbai City FC team and especially Amey Ranawade and wishes him a speedy recovery.
That being said, in the end, it is always about the sport and not one individual. The victory was Mumbai’s and a well-deserved one. Ketto lauds all the players.
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