Five Talking Points of I-League Round 5
East Bengal ran rout, Mohun Bagan were held for the firs time, Aizawl’s unbeaten run perished, while Bengaluru FC suffered back-to-back defeats. Here are the five talking from the consummated round…
1. Bengaluru FC’s woes continue
It is looking all glum in the Garden City. After three wins in the opening three, reigning Champions Bengaluru FC have fallen prey to East Bengal and Churchill Brothers in consecutive games. Teams seems to have found a formula to easily walk through in what had been an impregnable defence.
In addition to this, injuries and poor form of key players have furthermore added to Albert Roca’s headache. Rino Anto, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Keegan Pereira, Salam Ranjan Singh and Lalchhuanmawia will be long-term absentees, while Sandesh Jhingan has joined the treatment table.
Captain Sunil Chhetri and midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh haven’t performed upto their own high standards. The Blues’ captain scored his first of the campaign against Churchill, which came from the spot, while Lyngdoh has not been able to dominate midfield proceedings. With another acid test awaiting away to DSK Shivajians, Roca needs to get things right before they go out of hand.
2. East Bengal’s attack potential title winning
Analysing all the attacks among the I-League teams, one could come to a ready conclusion that Bengaluru FC’s attack is arguably the best. Sunil Chhetri, CK Vineeth, Udanta Singh and new recruit Roby Norales offer depth and quality. But of late, the attack has perished, and the tag ‘best attack’ has stayed on paper.
East Bengal, meanwhile, have come forward with the leagues’ finest attack. Trevor Morgan has found the right formula to accommodate three strikers in his diamond formation, with Wedson Anselme, Willis Plaza and Robin Singh now his preferred artillery upfront. The aforementioned trio have racked eight goals amongst them, proving their big game mettle against holders Bengaluru FC in the last round.
East Bengal have conceded just three goals this season, with Ivan Bukenya patrolling the defence. Morgan seems to have found the right balance between attack and defence, which could just land them their first I-League title.
3. Shillong Lajong need to build on their winning streak
Two victories in as many games suddenly see Shillong Lajong oust Mumbai FC to go fifth in the table. Early season slump had Thangboi Singto’s side into thinking, but a return to their old self has boosted the Reds’ confidence. But they cannot sit back and bask in the winning run. The Reds welcome Chennai City FC, Churchill Brothers and DSK Shivajians in three back-to-back home games, which Singto’s side should look to gain maximum points from. With as many as three teams exempted from relegation, Shillong need to step up if they are not to be the unlucky side that drops down.
4. On-field melees mar two brilliant performances
Churchill Brothers caused a major stir with a win against Bengaluru FC, while Chennai City FC ended Aizawl FC’s impervious run. Both games, though, were overshadowed by mini-brawls. John Johnson’s was sent off late on, which irked the Englishman, who believed Churchill coach Alfred Fernandes motivated the referee for the red. Fernandes floored himself for a considerable time for a gentle push, which was absurd. Latest footage also shows Fernandes trying to trip Juanan from behind, summing up the unprofessional behaviour from both camps.
On the other hand, Chennai City FC’s maiden win came over an in-form undefeated Aizawl FC. Although on a lighter not, this game had its share of scuffles too. Kingsley Obumneme lunged into Prasanth Karuthadathkuni with a horrendous chop, which exasperated Haroon Fakhruddin, who got into a tussle with Lalruatthara. All the players from both teams got involved, and had to be separated. Amiri, Ruatthara and Kingsley all went into the refs book for losing their cool.
5. Chennai City find their feet, Minerva still lost
It could not have been a better way to get your maiden victory. Chennai City FC overcame the unbeaten Aizawl FC, which will have done a world of good for the newbies’ confidence.
On the contrary, fellow new comers Minerva Punjab FC still look lost in transition. Just one point in five games, Minerva’ defence is flawed, while their attack toothless. They can bank on the fact that they will be exempted from relegation, and take their time for rebuilding. But at the moment, they do not look like an I-League team, or I-League 2nd Divisions runners-up last season.