Talking Points From Week 3 Of ISL 6

Chennaiyin FC 0 – ATK 1

     1) The Ball Refuses To Go In For Chennaiyin

The Marina Machans have not scored in six ISL fixtures going back to last season. The lack of goals hurt John Gregory’s team immensely in the previous campaign and if they keep frittering chances away the way they have in the last couple of games, they will have no hope of making the playoffs. There are way too many trusted goal-scorers elsewhere in the league for it to be otherwise. André Schembri did not make the cut in the first two games and therefore, Nerijus Valskis was given an opportunity as the target man, to no avail. The only silver lining was in the performance of Edwin Sydney Vanspaul. He has looked increasingly secure with every passing game and has made the right-back position his own for now. His battle with Sunil Chhetri and Ashique Kuruniyan in Chennaiyin’s next fixture will be one to look out for. 

     2) Das Makes Big Impact As Wing-Back

After missing all of last season with an injury, Prabir Das must be desperate to make his mark on the squad’s fortunes. He was given the responsibility of captaining a young ATK team in the Durand Cup and he has used that as a springboard for further success this season. Michael Soosairaj has hogged most of the limelight on the opposite flank, but Antonio López Habas’ 3-5-2 formation has allowed for Das to make penetrative runs on the right flank. Having started his career as a striker, he has always made an impact in the final third and the quality of his crossing has come to the fore this season. It was a lovely chest-down and run that led to the goal and he kept producing dangerous moments in this game. He will definitely end the season with more than the two assists he has to his name at the moment. 

Mumbai City FC 2 – Odisha FC 4

     3) Islanders Miss Borges 

Mumbai were forced into a change at the beginning of this game when Rowlinn Borges pulled up with a hamstring injury in the warmup. His absence was felt keenly throughout the game as the Islanders lost the midfield battle with an uncharacteristically timid performance. After keeping clean sheets in both their opening games, they let in four at home and it could easily have been more. The attack lacked bite in the absence of Modou Sougou as well and both their goals can be attributed to large strokes of luck. The referee was wrong to point to the spot for their first goal and they could thank the opposition keeper’s largesse for the second. Mumbai had more of the ball than Odisha in this game, which is not a common occurrence, but they will quickly have to learn to do more with it in the attacking third to trouble defences. 

     4) Jerry Finally Fulfilling Promise

In 2016, news broke to two talented youngsters training with Liverpool in England. Much of the subsequent spotlight fell on Lallianzuala Chhangte, seen by many as the next big thing in Indian football, but Jerry Mawihmingthanga made an impression too and sealed a loan move to NorthEast United from his parent club, DSK Shivajians. He made just the one appearance for the Highlanders and moved permanently to Jamshedpur FC in 2017. With only one goal and five assists to show for in two seasons, it is safe to say that he did not set the world on fire with his efforts. Minutes were hard to come by under Cesar Ferrando last year and the player has benefitted from a move to Odisha, where he has been given the freedom of the park to express himself. With a goal and three assists already, the youngster is in a good way and could soon draw the attention of the national team.

NorthEast United 2 – FC Goa 2

     5) Subhasish Roy Keeps Highlanders In Game

The Bengali keeper has had an interesting time in the ISL. The journeyman custodian, who has even played in the now defunct National Football League (NFL) which shut shop in 2007, has moved from franchise to franchise since the first year of the competition. In six seasons, he has represented six different clubs without getting regular playing time at any of them. He arrived at NorthEast United expecting to play second fiddle to Pawan Kumar who had just had a stellar season. Robert Jarni has placed his trust in the thirty-three year old though and he has begun well. Goa could have been out of sight in the first half and it was Subhasish’s heroics that kept them in the game to capitalise on in the second period. He will hope to build on his start and surpass the eight appearances he made for Atletico De Kolkata in their title winning campaign, the most he has had in any season to date. 

     6) Gaurs Exposed On Right Flank

Goa were well and truly in command of this tie in the first half and should really have put the fixture to bed. Hugo Boumous celebrated his return to the side with a well taken goal and could have had a hat-trick if he had taken his chances. However, having kept the lead to only one goal, the Highlanders responded in the second half with greater endeavour and it must worry Sergio Lobera that both their goals originated from innocuous balls played down the right flank. Mourtada Fall should shoulder blame for the first one, being caught on the wrong side of Asamoah Gyan and slipping in pursuit. Seriton Fernades was out of position in the buildup to the second goal and was then turned easily by Martin Cháves on the edge of the box. The Gaurs salvaged a point in the end, but other teams may have noticed a chink in the armour for them to exploit in future. 

Hyderabad FC 2 – Kerala Blasters 1

     7) Marcelinho Saves The Day Yet Again

This was not a great debut performance in front of their own fans by any stretch of imagination. Kerala dominated for most of the game and chances opened up for the home team only when the Blasters pushed forward looking for more goals. Unlike the team in yellow though, Hyderabad were more clinical and walked away with three important points. Marko Stankovic got them back in the game with a coolly taken penalty and then the player who so often makes the difference took over. Marcelinho lined a free-kick up from distance and put it beyond a flying goalkeeper for the umpteenth time in the league. Phil Brown cannot keep depending on his star player to save his blushes over and over again. Hyderabad clearly need a few of their players back and fit to play. If not, they will continue to hover around the bottom of the table. 

     8) Gning Mistakes Cost Blasters Dear

Kerala have not gotten going at all and their midfield have struggled with the demands of the manager. Jeakson Singh was left out after the defeat to Mumbai and Sergio Cidoncha dropped back to support Moustapha Gning in the centre of the park. The defensive aspects of the Senegalese player are sound enough but he has shown an alarming tendency of losing the ball at inopportune times. With Kerala bombing on in attacks, he is sometimes left isolated but mistakes have been committed regularly enough for Eelco Schattorie to be slightly worried. After clipping Mohammad Yasir in the box to concede a penalty, he was again the culprit with the free-kick that led to the winning goal. The Blasters’ sloppiness has been spoken about for the third gameweek running and Kerala should be careful that it does not become the running theme for the season. 

Jamshedpur FC 0 – Bengaluru FC 0

     9) Subrata Paul Back To His Best

After winning the Golden Glove award in the 2017-18 campaign, the next season did not go too well for the ex-India stopper. He was at his best against the champions though and his performance took Jamshedpur to the top of the table after three rounds of matches. In a good week for veteran keepers after Subhasish Roy’s heroics against Goa, Subrata produced a string of outstanding saves to deny Bengaluru and ensure that the spoils were shared. He kept out eight attempts, five of which were inside the box, and played his part in an absorbing game which produced end-to-end football. The Red Miners had their own opportunities to take all three points but will probably be content with a result that showed that they will mix it up with the best this season. 

     10) Blues Remain Winless For Now

It has been a strange old start to the campaign for the defending champions. Their preparations were disrupted by the absence of five key Indian players on national duty but other franchises have had their share of troubles too. They have not played badly and are still unbeaten but the goals have been hard to come by. They have one to show for their efforts in three games and Manuel Onwu’s struggles at number nine continue. The Blues will hope that it is only a matter of time before the Spaniard hits his groove and Carles Cuadrat will definitely show more faith in his misfiring striker, mostly due to a lack of options in that position. It is worth remembering though that Bengaluru have already played three of the top four teams, and despite being seventh in the table, the move upwards is not far off. 

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