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Five things we learned from I-League Round 5

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The fifth-round of I-League produced numerous shocking results...

Defending champions Bengaluru slumped to a defeat at Churchill Brothers while their southern neighbours Chennai City registered their first I-League win against high-flying Aizawl FC. East Bengal and Shillong Lajong handed heavy defeats to Minerva Punjab and Mumbai, respectively. Additionally, DSK Shivajians and Mohun Bagan played out a goalless draw. However, despite many surprising results, the I-League table looks somewhat similar to that of last week.

Here are the five things Khel Now learned from matchday five:

1. Misfiring Mohun Bagan rue lost points against DSK Shivajians

Mohun Bagan remain undefeated in I-League, but their four-game winning run ended at DSK Shivajians’ Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex. Seventh-placed DSK Shivajians will be delighted to get something out of a game against four-time National Football League or I-League champions, but the result will come back to haunt the Kolkata club as they can only perceive the draw as a game that saw them lose two points.

Local rivals East Bengal have now leapfrogged them in the table thanks to their superior goal difference.  They will hope to bounce back quickly, with a win against struggling Aizawl at home on February 4.

2. Albert Roca is still finding his feet in Indian football

Many expected Bengaluru to run away with the I-League trophy this season, especially after featuring in the AFC Cup finals in Qatar last season. After three back-to-back wins, new manager Albert Roca was deemed the perfect successor to Ashley Westwood. However, in light of two consecutive defeats to East Bengal and Churchill Brothers, who headed into the game boasting only as many points as punching bags Minerva Punjab, they seem to have lost their magic.

The former Barcelona and Galatasaray assistant manager seemingly has not got a grasp of Indian football. However, given his experience and the quality of the players he has at his disposal, the Blues can be expected to contend for the title again this season, proving the defeats were only a blip.

3. Dicka’s form crucial to Shillong Lajong

Shillong Lajong climbed to the top of the I-League table on the back of a 3-1 win against Mumbai. Konsham Chinglensana Singh rounded off the win scoring Shillong’s third goal twenty minutes from whistle after Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka had scored a brace in the first half. The latter also scored the decider in Shillong’s 2-1 victory over Minerva Punjab.

The Cameroon striker played a vital role in either of Shillong’s two victories this season. Since Konsham Singh and Yuta Kinowaki have been the only other goal scorers this season, his presence in the attacking third is imperative. With Shillong boasting the worst defensive record (9 goals) in the division, the Shillong coach Thangboi Singto will pin his side’s survival hopes on him.

4. Chennai City must build on first win

Chennai City have been improving since their first I-League outing against Minerva Punjab. Although they lost back-to-back games against Bengaluru, DSK Shivajians and Mohun Bagan, they seem to have learned many valuable lessons as coach Robin Charles Raja masterminded a fantastic 2-0 win against high-flying Aizawl.

The Chennai club ended Aizawl’s undefeated run, courtesy of goals from Marcos Vinicius and Charles de Souza. Haroon Amiri, Karanjit Singh, Dhanpal Ganesh, Abhra Mondal, Anyichie Echezona Celestine and Denson Devadas, who have all shown massive promise so far, should build on their first I-League win. By the looks of things, Chennai will be the surprise packages of the season.

5. Flaky Mumbai face rollercoaster season ahead

After two wins against DSK Shivajians and Churchill Brothers, Mumbai are now feeling the effect of Khalid Jamil’s departure in light of back-to-back defeats to Bengaluru, Aizawl and Shillong Lajong. They have conceded seven goals in three games after shipping just a single goal in the opening two games. They look highly inconsistent, as they seem to lack the intent and quality required to win back-to-back games.

With the Kolkatta clubs and Bengaluru set to be embroiled in the title race and Churchill Brothers and Minerva Punjab looking this season’s punching bags, Mumbai will likely be this season’s mid-table club. A rollercoaster season is on the cards as Mumbai look determined to avoid a relegation battle.

Published: Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:33 AM IST

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