The Japanese midfielder scored the winner late in the second half against the Arrows. 

NEROCA FC got back to winning ways with a thrilling 3-2 win over Indian Arrows at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday. After Arrows had taken the lead twice through Boris Singh and Rohit Danu, the Orange Brigade rallied back through Felix Chidi and Katsumi Yusa’s second-half brace. While Arrows were impressive throughout, NEROCA’s determination prevailed to help them cover up ground with the top-four rivals. Here are our talking points for the game.

5. Did NEROCA lack some bite and creativity in midfield?

Manuel Retamero decided to tweak his lineup against Indian Arrows, leaving out regulars in midfielder Aryn Williams(suspended) and winger Malengnganba Meitei out of the lineup. He instead gave some the younger boys a chance, but this almost proved costly. NEROCA weren’t as efficient in the middle, lacking the bite of crunching tackles to win balls and initiate attacks. Williams’ creativity was also missed, as not many killer balls were played out from the middle.

While they were stronger, NEROCA’s midfielders were outwitted by their Arrows counter-parts and didn’t press enough to dominate proceedings. Naorem Tondomba Singh was caught napping on multiple occasions and failed to protect his defence, causing them to be exposed to relentless counter-attacks from the hosts.

4. Did Indian Arrows poor mistakes undo their own good work?

While NEROCA FC might’ve been the eventual winners, Indian Arrows went toe-to-toe with the Orange Brigade and were arguably even the better side in chunks of the game. Arrows took the lead twice and looked to be flying towards their biggest win of the season. However, they lacked the lethality in killing off the game. After the second goal, they had a flurry of big chances to consolidate their advantage.

They breached NEROCA’s defence repeatedly and had multiple one-on-one opportunities with Mauro Boerchio and Rohit Danu even missed a simple header from yards out in the dying moments. However, indecisiveness and inexperience cost them as they allowed NEROCA to get back in the game. Poor defensive work from crosses allowed Katsumi to complete the comeback and sum up a frustrating day for Floyd Pinto’s men.

3. Has Katsumi Yusa picked up form at the right time?

Katsumi Yusa got back to scoring ways for NEROCA, sparking a dramatic come-back in the second half. Yusa looked much more comfortable in a more central-attacking position, dictating the pace of his side’s attack and causing problems with his movement and impressive passing range. He played in Felix Chidi beautifully for NEROCA’s first and made it his own show in the second half. Katsumi jumped on Ashok Singh’s impressive cross to score with the help of his belly and gave his side a lifeline.

He showed nerves of steel in scoring the penalty to earn the victory. The Japanese’s influence over NEROCA’s attack and leadership quality was on display at the Kalinga Stadium. With a flurry of important fixtures ahead(including one against former side East Bengal), luckily for NEROCA, Yusa’s back to his best when it’s most required.


2. Boris Singh’s versatility proves to be a thing of beauty

Boris Singh’s development under Floyd Pinto this season was exemplified in his impressive performance against NEROCA FC as he put in a hard-working, clever performance. Playing at left-back for Indian Arrows, the versatile player showed just how well he can blend into different scenarios. Not only was Boris commendable defensively, keeping NEROCA’s right-wing neutralized, but he also threatened on the attack as well. While not the paciest, Boris’ unpredictable movement and determination troubled the Orange Brigade.

 He showed brilliant perseverance in cleverly going past NEROCA’s tight defence to score the 200th goal of the I-League season. Boris looked electric later on with impressive movement in and around the final third, while also being sound defensively, as his complete performance earned him the Hero of the Match award.

1. Could the comeback win spur on NEROCA’s chase for a top-four finish?

After failing to win any of their last three games, NEROCA desperately required a win to keep their season from sinking. Despite a few key players missing, they showed impressive determination and heart to come-back on two occasions to record another win against Indian Arrows. While they’ll have to be thankful to Katsumi and Chidi for it, NEROCA needs to sustain this momentum till the finish line.

The Orange Army has a lot of crucial fixtures ahead of them and needs to win as many as possible in order to record a strong finish to the season. With title challengers East Bengal ahead, NEROCA need to show similar determination in the games ahead to keep up with the top and record another top-half finish.