Anelka fails to inspire as Mumbai loses badly
CHENNAI, India (AP) — Former France striker Nicolas Anelka had a forgettable return from suspension when his Mumbai franchise team was drubbed 5-1 by Chennaiyin in the Indian Super League on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old Anelka, who sat out the first three matches because of a five-match ban imposed in England for a racially aggravated goal celebration that led to his exit from West Bromwich Albion in March, made some early runs down the right, but failed to dent the defense.
Colombian striker Stiven Mendoza and Brazilian midfielder Elano scored two goals each and Jeje Lalpekhlua netted once for Chennaiyin, with Indian cricket captain and team co-owner Mahendra Singh Dhoni watching on in the stands.
Syed Rahim Nabi scored a consolation goal for Mumbai, which is placed sixth among eight teams with three points from four outings.
Anelka’s had been banned for performing the ‘quenelle’ as he celebrated scoring in West Brom’s 3-3 draw with West Ham last December.
The gesture involves pointing one straightened arm downward while touching the shoulder with the opposite hand. It was popularized by French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has been convicted for inciting racial hatred and anti-Semitism.
Anelka had also been sent home from the 2010 World Cup after insulting France coach Raymond Domenech in the dressing room. Anelka refused to apologize and ended his international career with 14 goals in 69 appearances.
The former Arsenal and Real Madrid striker is among the many veteran stars playing in the league with Alessandro Del Piero, Robert Pires, Luis Garcia, and David Trezeguet the other top names in the ISL, which is being organized with the hope of drawing in crowds for football in a cricket-crazy country of 1.2 billion.
The involvement of cricketers and Indian movie actors has also created a buzz around the tournament that runs till Dec. 20.
Other than Dhoni, retired great Sachin Tendulkar co-owns Kerala Blasters while former captain Sourav Ganguly and batsman Virat Kohli have stakes in Atletico de Kolkata and Goa.