After Kerala Blasters FC decided to walk off the pitch and forfeit their ISL play-off clash against Bengaluru FC in protest against a contentious Sunil Chhetri free-kick, the forward said he had never seen anything like it in his long career.
“I’ve never seen this in my 22-year career. This is not the right way to do it,” Chhetri told the official broadcasters when asked about Kerala’s forfeit.
The controversial moment happened when Chhetri took a quick freekick in the 97th minute after the game had gone into extra time. The ball sailed into the goal. When the referee awarded it as an legitimate attempt, Kerala players were incensed. They protested that they were not ready and had not heard the referee’s whistle. Serbian coach Ivan Vukomanovic called back his players
Bengaluru FC and Kerala had been deadlocked 0-0 after 90 minutes at the Kanteerava Stadium.
“I always ask the referee (if I can take a free-kick) because if he does not allow, it wouldn’t happen. It was a bitter-sweet moment. First, we thought if the match would happen or not. But I’m happy that we are through to the semi-finals. Can’t wait to take on Mumbai,” the India stalwart added. “The referee asked me if I wanted the wall or the whistle. They always do it. I said that I don’t want the whistle as well as the wall,” Chhetri told Star Sports after the match.
Bengaluru will now face Mumbai City FC, who are League Shield winners, in a two-legged semi-final on March 7 and 12.