After the last few fixtures the points table has taken further shape as the season enters its business end.
The 11th gameweek of the seventh edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) concluded with the match between Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB). The season has now reached its halfway mark and the Islanders have established a five-point lead at the top of the table. Teams like SC East Bengal, Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters took some positive strides in their respective matches. Odisha FC played out a goalless draw against Chennaiyin FC, whereas Mumbai secured a crucial 1-0 victory over Antonio Habas’ men. One can make some convincing observations about the course that the campaign will follow given that we are at the midway point already.
Without further ado, let us elaborate on some of the major takeaways from the Indian Super League 2020-21 Gameweek 11:
5. Does Liston Colaco deserve a national team call-up?
No Indian player has generated excitement among fans like Liston Colaco this season. The skillful winger has had some breathtaking moments of brilliance so far. However, he converted that dynamism into goals in the match against NorthEast United on Friday. The 22-year-old displayed some incredible footwork, pace and decisiveness upfront to bag a brace after coming on from the bench. Colaco’s performances have strengthened voices asking national team head coach Igor Stimac to hand the attacker a call-up.
“People say Liston is ready for national team, but he is not yet ready. He needs to improve and he also knows it. He is also ready to work, but people need to calm down with him,” Hyderabad’s head coach Manolo Marquez had said after their defeat against Kerala Blasters in December. Marquez also said that Colaco was recovering from a few injuries and hence he couldn’t play the entire 90 minutes. However, the player will make a strong case to be selected for the Blue Tigers, if he can sustain his current vein of form.
4. How far can SC East Bengal go this season?
SC East Bengal seem to be getting their act together after an underwhelming start to the campaign. The team suffered several crushing losses in the beginning, but are unbeaten in their previous five games. This week, they defeated Bengaluru FC who were playing their first match after Carles Cuadrat’s sacking. The Red and Gold secured three points through an early goal from German midfielder Matti Steinmann. New arrivals like Raju Gaikwad and Bright Enobakhare have infused some fresh energy into the team.
Robbie Fowler’s men are placed at the ninth spot currently. However, they are merely five points behind fourth-placed FC Goa and will look to get higher up the table with some consistent results. However, aiming for the playoffs could be a bit far-fetched for the Kolkata giants currently. But, they can definitely look to finish in an improved mid-table position, something that seemed out pf reach given the start they had.
3. Chennaiyin FC and Odisha FC: Two sides of the same coin?
Csaba Lsazlo’s Chennaiyin FC had drawn appreciation due to their impressive performances in the beginning of the season. However, the Marina Machans do not seem to be sustaining that momentum midway through the campaign. The team are winless in their previous four games and played a goalless draw against bottom-placed Odisha FC last weekend. Laszlo’s men dominated the proceedings, taking 12 shots on goal and maintaining 58% possession. However, they simply couldn’t break down the Juggernauts, who were searching for their second consecutive victory.
Meanwhile, Odisha had turned a corner in their drab campaign via 4-2 win against Kerala Blasters on Thursday. One would have hoped for them to capitalize on that momentum. However, despite resilient defensively, they failed to put up an encouraging show that could seed some hopes of a revival of their form.
2. Goalkeeping howlers aplenty this season
Kerala Blasters secured a crucial 3-2 victory over Jamshedpur FC on Sunday. However, one can argue that the 10-men Blasters were handed the win through multiple howlers by Jamshedpur’s custodian TP Rehenesh. Costa Nhamoinesu won an aerial duel against Rehenesh to nod in the ball for the opening goal of the night. Later, the Blasters were a man down, as Lalruatthara was sent off in the 66th minute. Nevertheless, Vicuna’s men climbed their way back through a late brace from Jordan Murray.
Facundo Pereyra’s shot was spilled by Rehenesh and Murray pounced upon that for his first goal. Later, the Jamshedpur goalkeeper again mishandled a regulation save and the Aussie acted quickly to notch Kerala’s third goal. Other than Rehenesh, goalkeepers like Albino Gomes (Vs FC Goa) and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Vs Mumbai City FC) have also committed such errors this season. Though there have been some commendable goalkeeping performances, head coaches are bound to expect better from their shot-stoppers, as the campaign enters its business end.
1. Mumbai edge past ATK Mohun Bagan to cement top spot
ATK Mohun Bagan have breathed down Mumbai City’s neck throughout the ongoing Indian Super League season. This gameweek presented the Islanders the opportunity to extend their lead against ATKMB and they grabbed it with both hands. In a closely-contested encounter, Bartholomew Ogbeche’s goal turned out to be the difference between the two sides.
The Kolkata-based club fought tooth and nail to break Mumbai’s unbeaten run. However, a meek first half display allowed Sergio Lobera’s men to gain an upper hand in the proceedings. There were phases in which ATKMB pegged the Islanders back. However, Hugo Boumous led a sharp counter-attack and his back-heel pass resulted in assisting Ogbeche’s strike. Mumbai have now secured a five-point lead over ATKMB and are in pole position to finish the season atop, eventually.