The southerners are winless in their last three games.
Abednego Kofi Tetteh’s 78th minute penalty was enough to seal the deal for Real Kashmir against Chennai City at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday. It was a game of missed chances, with both sides missing sitters and hitting the crossbar, which caused great frustration amongst both the home and away fans. Chennai had 78% of possession, but the best chances of the game undoubtedly fell to the Snow Leopards who failed to capitalize on them time and again.
The game ended with a 1-0 victory to Real Kashmir and threw open the title race in the I-League. Here are the talking points from the match:
5. Can Gaurav Bora be the next big thing in the I-League?
Chennai City have had an exhilarating start to their I-League campaign this season, but much of the praise has fallen (and deservedly so) the way of Pedro Manzi, Nestor Gordillo, Sandro, and Santana. One man who has escaped the fanfare, but has performed remarkably well is 20-year-old defender Gaurav Bora. The Pune City youth product is remarkably composed on the ball, has exceptional intelligence and has looked unfazed while facing some of the most renowned forwards in Indian football this season.
His seamless integration into the side has been overseen by Akbaar Nawaz, their manager and he put in another good performance.
4. How badly will Chennai City have to pay for Charles’s injury?
Charles Anandraj has been a vital cog in the Chennai midfield this season and his injury has caused a terrible imbalance in the middle of the park. There is no word yet on when he will be back, but the Roaring Lions will be hoping that he returns sooner rather than later. Without him in the middle of the park, there seemed to be an obvious lack of cohesion in the home side’s gameplay, which will be a major cause of concern for Nawaz.
3. Can Real Kashmir be any more wasteful in front of goal?
Real Kashmir seem all set to be the fairytale story of the I-League this season, but their profligacy in front of goal could hurt them severely someday. Despite having numerous chances to put the game beyond doubt, the Snow Leopards kept coming up short in the final third.
Surchandra, Krizo, and Tetteh all missed sitters on Saturday night, until a poor penalty call from the referee came to their rescue in the final quarter of the game. It is unlikely that luck will be favoring them in such a manner every weekend, so manager Dave Robertson will have to focus and sit down with his forwards to ensure such performances do not happen again.
2. How soon can Chennai City come up with a Plan B?
The exceptional performance of Chennai’s Spanish contingent, most notably of forward Pedro Manzi and midfielder Sandro has been crucial to them remaining unbeaten in the first eight games of the season. However, the intensity has dropped over the course of the last few matches, the result of which has caused Chennai to drop seven points in their last three games. Nawaz will have to come up with alternative plans very soon if they are to continue building on their early-season momentum.
1. Could this season’s title race be better than the last?
Last season, Minerva Punjab pocketed the I-League in dramatic fashion, but things are getting much more intense this campaign. With Chennai faltering and Real Kashmir and East Bengal gradually peaking, this term could witness a four-way race between the aforementioned sides and NEROCA FC, who are currently fourth in the table with one game in hand. It seems this title race could be one for the ages, with all the spots up for grabs like those in a snake-and-ladder game.