The fourth gameweek saw a few closely-fought games.
The contests in I-League 2020-21 till now have been very feisty, as teams are gradually starting to build momentum and work on areas that need improvement. However, we have not yet been able to separate the top five from the rest, which speaks speaks about the competitive nature of the league.
In this gameweek, TRAU started with a crucial win over Chennai City FC, as Indian Arrows spoiled Aizawl’s party with a late equalizer. RoundGlass Punjab and Mohammedan Sporting keep disappointing, as they settled for a drab draw. However, Churchill Brothers maintained their stronghold with a win over Sudeva Delhi. Lastly, Gokulam Kerala came back with a big win over NEROCA FC.
Here are the hits and misses from I-League Gameweek 4:
5. What’s going wrong at Chennai City FC?
After a winning start to the season, Chennai City FC are currently in a muddle after losing back-to-back matches. The Southerners recently lost against TRAU and they looked out of ideas. The defensive organization of the former champions was all over the place, as their full-backs failed to contain the likes of Bidyashagar Singh, Komron Tursunov and Seiminmang Manchong, who inter-changed positions in attack to stretch the Chennai City defence.
While these are still early days and a win in their next I-League 2020-21 match will see Satyasagara’s men back in the top half of the table, a slip-up could be dangerous for the Coimbatore-based outfit. With the new rules in place for this season, momentum is a key factor and that is why Chennai City will look to sort out their issues in transition and also at the back.
4. What should be the realistic expectation for Aizawl FC this season?
Aizawl FC have undone all the great work that they did in their last match by defeating Gokulam, as they could only salvage a point against the Arrows. It was a one-sided affair with the Reds dominating play from start to finish. However, despite enjoying most of the possession throughout the match, Yan Law’s men gave the ball away cheaply at times and also lacked patience in their build-up play. Most of the shots that were taken by the Reds were from distance and therefore it hardly tested the Arrows goalkeeper.
Despite the last-minute sucker punch, Aizawl FC will have a lot of positives to take forward into their next game. The young brigade from Mizoram need a little more patience in attack, something that can be achieved only by playing more matches. Law may also turn to Nigerian striker Princewill Emeka, who will add guile and maturity in their play in future matches. Considering the way they have played this season, a spot in the top half of the table should be a realistic target.
3. Absence of quality striker hurting Mohammedan Sporting Club’s campaign
Mohammedan Sporting may have increased their unbeaten run in the league with their goalless draw against RoundGlass Punjab, but their quality upfront is questionable. This is the third draw for the Black Panthers on the trot and in these four matches, they have only scored thrice. What is even more concerning is that out of those three goals, two came in their game against TRAU. Their defence looks like a decent unit, with Kingsley Obumneme marshalling the troops. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for their attack.
The Kolkata outfit are planning to bring in a foreign striker, but for the time being it looks like Indian forwards in Gourav Mukhi, Nikhil Kadam and even Subhash Singh have simply gone missing. Starting from their chance creation to finishing, Jose Hevia’s men have looked very drab in the final third and it is the backline that is bailing them out for now. The Spaniard needs to strike the right balance which will be sustainable for the Black Panthers in the long run.
2. Red Machines on course to end title drought?
Led by experienced Spanish tactician Santiago Varela, Churchill Brothers have been a buoyant force this season. They like to take the attack to the opposition and have the right balance in their team, with experienced foreign players who compliment the prodigious local talents.
While players like Clayvin Zuniga and Luka Majcen have gained plaudits from fans and experts alike, local talents like Bryce Miranda, Richard Costa, Kingslee Fernandes and Quan Gomes have also been instrumental to the team’s success. With four matches gone, the Red Machines are sitting comfortably atop the table with a five-point lead. It will be interesting to see how Varela’s men take this momentum forward into the season.
1. Can Gokulam Kerala put together a string of results?
Gokulam Kerala came back roaring after their defeat against Aizawl as they cruised past NEROCA. The attacking duo of Dennis Antwi and Philip Adjah have looked good, as both the Ghanaians have a great understanding between them and their movement in the final third creates a lot of trouble for opposition defenders. Head coach Vincenzo Annese has also given chances to some players like Jestin George and Emil Benny and both had a crucial role in the win.
While there were lots of positives in the win, the defence still looks like a concern for the Malabarians. Skipper Mohamed Awal has not yet looked convincing at the heart of the backline. Despite the success, the Italian tactician will know that there are areas which still need improvement.