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Talking Points: Minerva Punjab's Philip Njoku flourishes in a more attacking role

Written by: Neil Talnikar

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The defending champions are now fifth in the table and face East Bengal next.

It was a disappointing day in the I-League for AIFF developmental side Indian Arrows as they lost a hard-fought game, 1-0 against reigning champions Minerva Punjab, at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurugram. The young guns were pretty much on the front foot from the start, but after conceding a 74th-minute goal from Philip Njoku, they gave up fighting against the mighty hosts.

Here are the talking points of the game:

5. Indian Arrows have good skill on the ball, but lack physicality

It was never an easy encounter for the young side but they stood their ground well until the time they conceded the decisive goal. The midfield quartet of Vikram Pratap Singh, Rahul KP, Suresh Singh Wangjam and skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam rocked the midfield as they worked fantastically in transition from defence to attack and vice-versa.

Their first touches, ball distribution and forward going mentality were all on point, as the Warriors were forced to show their physical side. Physicality was the only thing that the youngsters lacked and unfortunately that cost them the game.

4. Disorganized midfield a problem for Minerva

In the middle of the park Minerva were weak at times

On one too many occasions, the Minerva midfielders were caught out of position. Akash Sangwan and Amandeep Singh, in particular, had a disappointing game as they didn’t really make any contribution to the team as such.



On the other hand, 15-year-old Thoiba Moirangthem, who played his first game of the season did his part pretty well. William Opoku, too, played a decent part while providing an option in attack from the right flank, but it certainly wasn’t one of the best outings for the Ghanaian.

Constant changes in the midfield might have been the reason for the Warriors' shaky base. and thus, Paul Munster needs to establish stability in the midfield as it would be helpful for his side, if they are to finish the season in a high position.


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3. Floyd Pinto must stick with his 4-4-2 formation

Pinto must realize that it is time to establish a fixed system

Pinto has tried out several formations since the start of the season, but the Arrows’ performance against Minerva showed a glimpse of how the young guns can light up the league. The Arrows have played in the 4-4-2 system twice before and while they lost out to a much stronger Mohun Bagan side, they did emerge victorious against Shillong Lajong.

Although, the team lost the game against Minerva, it was clearly one of their best performances this season and their formation had a big role to play. Hopefully, Pinto realizes that it is time to establish a fixed system for a team that has shown such great potential.

2. Philip Njoku flourishing in attack for Minerva

Amidst the problems in the midfield, Njoku was shifted to more of an attacking role, and he scored twice in two games. In the last game against Lajong, the Nigerian played alongside Opoku in a 4-2-3-1 formation behind Donatus Edafe. But, Munster played him right alongside Edafe in a 4-4-2 system and the midfielder once again impressed with his performance as he was in the right place at the right time to score the winner.

With his back-to-back impressive performances, Njoku is on the verge of unleashing his attacking prowess.

1. Finishing a problem for Arrows' forwards

From their eight shots overall in the game, the Arrows got just two on target. Rahul KP had two big chances to score and put his side ahead, but he failed to do so. Meanwhile, Vikram and Rahim Ali too had their chances, but both of their shots lacked precision and opposition keeper Arshdeep Singh managed to parry them away.

Had they managed to score even one goal past the sloppy Minerva defence, it would surely have been their second win of the season as they were already having an upper hand over the hosts.

Up next, Minerva Punjab travel to Kolkata to face East Bengal on 4th December. On the other hand, Indian Arrows travel for an away fixture against NEROCA FC on 7th December.

Published: Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:53 AM IST

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