The Tajik forward has been in splendid form for the Imphal-based club this season.
The I-League 2020-21 season is gradually heating up as teams are not missing out on a chance to put pressure on each other. It has been a seesaw battle as none of the teams have managed to show consistency with their positive results. While Churchill Brothers still lead the points table, the chasing pack is getting closer with every passing matchday.
Gameweek 7 saw the arrival of a few foreign strikers, as John Chidi inspired Mohammedan SC to defeat Gokulam Kerala. Whereas, Papa Babacar Diawara scored a brace on debut to help RoundGlass Punjab to secure all three points against Indian Arrows. Meanwhile, TRAU FC ended the unbeaten streak of Aizawl FC with a narrow win, as Churchill Brothers and Real Kashmir shared honours in a goalless draw. Lastly, NEROCA FC’s poor form continued as Chennai City FC got back to winning ways.
Here are the top takeaways from I-League 2020-21 Gameweek 7:
5. John Chidi off to a flying start
Mohammedan finally ended their drab run of draws and got back to winning ways. Jose Hevia’s men, who looked out of ideas in recent matches, were a lot better against Gokulam Kerala. John Chidi’s arrival also added a focal point in attack for the other players. Chidi has had a stint with the Black Panthers recently and therefore did not spend much time getting used to the system and developing an understanding with other players. He had an immediate impact in the game against the Malabarians.
Chidi broke the deadlock in the first half, as he held the ball up and played a subtle one-two with Faisal Ali before thundering the ball past Ubaid CK in goal. The Nigerian forward has brought back stability in attack and his hold up play upfront will help players in and around him to get in behind opposition lines.
4. Churchill Brothers’ goalscoring woes continue
After starting strong, Churchill Brothers have been fizzling out in recent matches. Although their unbeaten run is still intact and the Red Machines are still leading the points table, they have not been at their best for the last three matches. Head coach Fernando Varela brought in a lot of fluidity to the attack and they looked like a force to be reckoned with in the first few games. However, it looks like teams have found the way to put off the Red Machines’ threat in the final third.
The draw against Real Kashmir was their third on the trot and in this period, they have only scored once. Players like Clayvin Zuniga, Bryce Miranda and Clencio Pinto have created chances, but the Red Machines have not been clinical in front of goal.
3. Former champions Chennai City back to winning ways
It has been a tough start to the season for Chennai City, but it is hugely positive that the Coimbatore-based outfit have managed to find their way back to victory after a horrible last match. The defeat against Sudeva Delhi would have definitely shaken things up at the club and also taken a toll on the players. However, the response from the former champions has been very solid, as they defeated NEROCA and climbed up the ladder. The Southerners are only four points adrift from the top of the table with a game in hand.
Therefore, a lot of action is left this season for Satyasagara’s men to come back and pose a title challenge at the business end of the league. However, Chennai City need to up the ante and build on this win. It will only add to the morale of the whole unit and also allow the players to express themselves on the field. The foreign players, especially Demir Avdic and Iqbal Hussain, will have to take up the mantle of scoring goals and that will help the team move forward this season.
2. Papa Babacar Diawara the saviour for RoundGlass Punjab
RoundGlass Punjab, who were struggling to pile up wins consistently, came back to winning ways with the arrival of Papa Babacar Diawara. The Senegalese who helped Mohun Bagan lift the I-League title last season scored a brace on his debut. The Punjab-based outfit were missing a proper No. 9 upfront, as they have a lot of players who can play in and around the final third. Therefore, with Diawara’s arrival, Curtis Fleming’s team are now looking like a solid unit.
Diawara is someone who looks to make line-breaking runs and get in behind opposition defenders. He is also very strong in the air and set-pieces is one area from where he scores most of his goals. It was good to see Joseba Beitia re-uniting with his former teammate and also assisting him to score the second. In the 60-odd minutes he played, the Senegalese showed that he can be the hero that RoundGlass Punjab need this season.
1. Can Komron Tursunov play at a higher level?
Scoring early and putting the opposition under pressure has been the norm for TRAU this season and it has mostly been their Tajik forward Komron Tursunov who end up getting onto the scoresheet. Tursunov has been a vital cog in Nandakumar Singh’s team, as he allows players like Bidyashagar Singh, Joseph Olaleye and others to capitalize on the space created by him.
The 24-year-old brings a lot of tenacity to this TRAU side, along with a great burst of speed and a knack for scoring goals. Tursunov showed glimpses of his brilliance last season for Mohun Bagan under the tutelage of Kibu Vicuna and helped the Mariners lift the I-League title. Now, he has carried the form to TRAU this season. Considering he is a regular Tajikistan international and a player who is accustomed to Indian football, a lot of teams in the Indian Super League may look at him as an interesting option in future.