The teams are gearing up for the next round of the competition.
With the final gameweek coming up in the first round of I-League 2020-21, teams have found ways to get wins and put themselves in a favourable position. However, there are still a few spots up for grabs and it looks like it will go down to the wire. The usual suspects have seen through their tough tests and are gearing up for the next round.
Real Kashmir scripted a great comeback against Aizawl FC, while Churchill Brothers again found a way to win against NEROCA FC. Gokulam Kerala also continued their winning streak with Philip Adjah returning to form, whereas Mohammedan Sporting stayed afloat with a late winner against Chennai City. Lastly, TRAU FC brushed aside an inexperienced Indian Arrows.
Here are the top highlights from I-League 2020-21 Gameweek 10:
5. Can Real Kashmir avoid end of season meltdown?
Real Kashmir have been the most consistent team in this season’s I-League and they proved it once again by defeating a tricky Aizawl. The Snow Leopards were down by a goal when Lalremsanga Fanai drew first blood. However, Lukman Adefemi made sure that David Robertson’s men went into the break with parity restored.
In the second half, Real Kashmir were very clinical with set-pieces and the People’s Club struggled to deal with their physical prowess. Yan Law’s men were having a tough time dealing with set-plays and Real Kashmir managed to take the lead through a Pratesh Shirodkar free-kick which was headed home by Mason Robertson. The Scotsman came up with another stunning 30-yard free-kick which left Aizawl custodian Zothanmawia stranded. This win puts the Snow Leopards in great stead, as they are only a point adrift of table-toppers Churchill Brothers.
4. Can Philip Adjah carry Gokulam to the title?
Another team that have been in great form right at the business end of the league are Gokulam Kerala. With their win against Sudeva Delhi, they have won three consecutive games and are now looking like a force to be reckoned with. Vincenzo Annese’s men have found form in the most important phase of the league.
The Malabarians won by virtue of a solitary goal from Adjah, where he combined well with compatriot Dennis Antwi. Youngsters like Emil Benny and Vincy Barretto have also complemented their foreign teammates, while the defensive structure has looked a lot more compact in recent matches.
3. Shankarlal Chakraborty the man to rescue Mohammedan Sporting?
Mohammedan Sporting snatched victory from the jaws of yet another draw against 10-man Chennai City. The Black Panthers have had a topsy-turvy season starting with chopping and changing of players, below-par performances. Their former head coach Jose Hevia was also sacked. Therefore, Shankarlal Chakraborty has taken charge and in his first match, the Black Panthers have returned to winning ways in a very eventful match.
It was a must-win affair for Mohammedan Sporting and they left it late to win in the dying moments, courtesy of a Suraj Rawat long-range goal. This win can be a turning point for the Black Panthers this season, as they were coming after two below-par performances against Aizawl and Indian Arrows. Therefore, Shankarlal has passed the early test, but now he will have to impose his style of play into this team and look to take them as far as possible.
2. Can Red Machines sustain title charge?
The onus was on Churchill Brothers to win and take back their top spot from Real Kashmir and they did just that. The Red Machines somehow sneaked past Chennai City in the last match and again they weren’t the most convincing against NEROCA. Fernando Varela’s men got the early goal and were more or less comfortable against the Orange Army.
The Red Machines are still the favourites to lift the I-League title as they started the season justifying their favourites tag. But, things soon started changing and Churchill Brothers were not cruising like earlier. However, they have managed to weather the storm and have found their way back to winning matches. But, they will need this mental strength to land the title, as one slip in the next round can be detrimental for the Red Machines.
1. 5-star TRAU impress against young Arrows
The Red Pythons have been the dark-horses of I-League 2020-21. They have played a good brand of football and have been clinical in front of goal, with the likes of Komron Tursunov and Bidyashagar Singh upfront. However, TRAU’s main problem has been performing under pressure and their defence has not helped them in tough fixtures. But, Nandakumar Singh will be relieved that his team came up with a dominant win over the Indian Arrows. Now, they have high chances of making it to the next round with only one match remaining against Sudeva.
Led by Tajikistan international Tursunov, TRAU have been a side that like to take the attack on the opposition and sometimes it leads to their downfall. But, they have been brave enough not to change their style of play and now at the business end of the season, they are reaping the rewards. This win will give the Imphal-based side a lot of confidence going into the next round.