There were some rather interesting results in the past week of the competition.
With the first phase of the I-League 2020-21 season almost coming to an end, teams are looking to put up a stronger case with wins in the last few matches. However, it is still far from over as some sides have two or more matches to go in the first phase. Amidst all the action, we have seen a lot of goals in Gameweek 9 and also a few upsets to spice up the whole scenario of the league.
It all started with a bang when a young Aizawl FC side came up with a dominant win over favourites Mohammedan Sporting. That was followed by a cagey affair between two top teams, RoundGlass Punjab and Real Kashmir as they shared the spoils. However, the draw helped Churchill Brothers, as they won against Chennai City and went top. Meanwhile, NEROCA came up with a win to keep their season alive. Lastly, Gokulam Kerala continued their winning streak with a morale-boosting win over Indian Arrows.
Here are the highlights from Gameweek 9 in I-League 2020-21:
5. Yan Law proves a point against former club
Life completed a full circle when Yan Law’s Aizawl FC defeated Mohammedan Sporting, which resulted in them parting ways with their head coach Jose Hevia. While a lot of people may call it redemption for the young head coach, Law will be more than happy with the performance of his team, as they simply dominated the Black Panthers. Aizawl were quick to take control of the game and it was in the 16th minute when Malsawmtluanga’s free-kick handed the People’s Club the lead.
Despite taking the lead, Aizawl kept on pushing for more goals and Mohammedan looked out of ideas to contain their fast attacking movements. It was great to see young players combining and creating havoc and had they been clinical they could have ended the game in the first half. But, the second half was as good as the first, as both Lalremsanga and Lalliansanga scored to secure a very crucial win for Aizawl FC. The Black Panthers had no answers throughout the match, as they failed to create enough chances and their star forward Pedro Manzi was often left isolated upfront.
4. Battle of title contenders?
Both RoundGlass Punjab and Real Kashmir have been very consistent this season and therefore they are considered front-runners to win the title. While both teams were looking to continue their winning streaks to reach the summit, they simply cancelled out each other on the night. RPFC started the game with a lot of intent as they pegged the Snow Leopards back in their own half. Curtis Fleming’s men were dominating possession and also had chances to take the lead through Baba Diawara and Joseba Beitia. Real Kashmir were very pragmatic with their approach and they only looked like scoring from set-pieces.
Beitia finally broke the deadlock from the spot late in the second half, but his side failed to hold onto their lead, as the Snow Leopards came roaring back via Dipanda Dicka’s header to restore parity. The game also saw tempers flare, as both Chencho Gyeltshen and Zohib Islam Amiri were given their marching orders. With the result, David Robertson’s men are still unbeaten.
3. Red Machines find a way to win ugly
After three frustrating draws, Fernando Varela’s team are back to the summit with the last-gasp win against Chennai City. However, the task was not that easy as the Southerners came charging and dominated possession in the early exchanges. Satyasagara’s men could have easily taken hold of the game by scoring twice, but they were not clinical in front of goal. Both Rajesh S and Vineeth Velmurugan missed sitters and it resulted in them dropping points.
Churchill Brothers had a first half to forget, but they came out in the second with a point to prove. They started taking control of proceedings and the deadlock was soon broken. Both foreign forwards Clayvin Zuniga and Luka Majcen combined and the latter scored the opening goal. While the Coimbatore-based outfit did equalize with a Elvedin Skrijelj penalty, Majcen’s last-minute winner ensured that Varela’s men left the field with all three points. While they were not too convincing in the win, they will take a lot of heart from this victory, as it also puts them right at the top of the league table.
2. NEROCA back to winning ways after a month
It was a very crucial match for both Sudeva Delhi and NEROCA as they are battling to stay in the top half of the table. Both sides were looking to take the attack to their opposition as they needed to win. Sudeva Delhi could have imposed themselves on the game when they got a spot-kick in the 12th minute. However, Kean Lewis failed to convert and also denied Sudeva the early advantage to dictate terms. Chencho Dorji’s men still created a few chances, but were not decisive in front of goal. The debutants were put to the sword for not being clinical, when Judah Garcia scored the first goal and allowed NEROCA to take the ascendancy.
The second half also started the same way as the first, with both sides looking to create chances but failing to put it past the respective goalkeepers. With Sudeva looking to commit men forward in search of goals, NEROCA struck on the counter and youngster Songpu Singsit scored to secure all three points for the Orange Army. NEROCA’s last and only win in the league this season had come against Indian Arrows a month ago. So, this victory should be a morale-booster for Gift Raikhan’s men, as they remain afloat in the race to finish in the top half of the table.
1. Emphatic Gokulam Kerala put Blue Colts to the sword
The defeat against Mohammedan Sporting was a wake-up call that Gokulam Kerala needed, as they have been on a rampage ever since. A clinical performance against TRAU followed by a dominant win over Indian Arrows put the Malabarians in good stead in the league. Vincenzo Annese’s men have been clinical in front of goal in recent matches and also the youngster whom he entrusted with responsibilities are repaying him with solid performances.
However, Gokulam were under pressure in the first half. Despite enjoying most of the possession, they were failing to break the deadlock. The Arrows defended valiantly and were looking to play on the counter-attack. But, the resistance did break early in the second half and once the floodgates were open, the Malabarians showed their mettle in attack with continuous onslaughts. With two matches remaining, this will give the team a great morale-boost.