Souvik Banerjee/Khel Now
Talking Points: Is Laldanmawia Ralte East Bengal's most under-rated player?
Written by: Abhranil Roy
The 26-year-old scored a hat-trick against Shillong Lajong on Thursday evening.
High-flying East Bengal ran riot against a lowly Shillong Lajong at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday at the Salt Lake Stadium. The Red and Gold Brigade put up an amazing display against The Reds, who looked listless and completely out of ideas. A hat-trick from Laldanmawia Ralte and goals from Jobby Justin and Enrique Esqueda sealed an emphatic victory for the Red and Gold, who looked unstoppable at times.
Here are the talking points from the game:
5. Is Borja Gomez the best defender in the I-League this season?
For the first time in a long while, the East Bengal defence has looked extremely solid throughout the season and the form of Borja Gomez has been crucial to it. The Spanish defender alongside Johnny Acosta, has looked impenetrable at times and that was proved once again on Thursday.
Gomez has led East Bengal from the back with his game-reading skills and physique, which has enabled him to neutralize most forwards. The Red and Gold Brigade have conceded only 15 goals so far this season, which makes them the third best defensive side in the I-League.
His play-making abilities are excellent as well, as he contributes heavily to almost every East Bengal counter-attack. His cross-field passes found the likes of Justin and Laldanmawia on numerous occasions and were duly converted.
4. Have Shillong Lajong given up their hopes of staying up?
At the start of the season, Shillong Lajong made headlines by deciding to field only their academy players, but that has not worked out for them. Their shock win over Churchill Brothers a couple of weeks back may have given them some confidence, but they were thoroughly outclassed by a far superior side here.
Having procured only 10 points from 16 games so far with a goal-difference of -27, The Reds look certain to go down this season and it looked like they have accepted their fate as well.
3. Has Laldanmawia been East Bengal’s most underrated player this season?
Laldanmawia Ralte has been one of East Bengal’s best players this season, but the constant focus on Justin and Esqueda has caused his performances to go somewhat under the radar. His hat-trick against Lajong was the first scored by an Indian this season and he already has seven goals in 15 appearances for the Red and Gold in this campaign.
East Bengal manager Alejandro Menendez has utilized Laldanmawia as a fre player in his 4-1-4-1 formation, which has enabled the Mizo forward to showcase his playmaking skills against opposition sides. It is high time that he is called up to represent the Indian national team for his exceptional performances.
2. Is the East Bengal attack the best in the league?
Justin, Esqueda, Toni Dovale, Jaime Santos and Laldanmawia Ralte: the East Bengal attack is littered with stars and they have been used extremely well by Menendez this season. The attack has scored 30 goals already, making it the second highest scoring forward line in the league. With their forwards firing on all cylinders, the Red and Gold have been a handful.
1. Can East Bengal finally go all the way?
It has been an excellent campaign for East Bengal so far and for the first time in a while, they have not wilted away as the second half of the season has kicked in. With 31 points from 15 games, they are only three points behind league leaders Chennai City, but they have a game in hand against Real Kashmir.
In fact, the Kolkata side look to be peaking at the right time and with their talismanic forward Esqueda returning, this season could be the one where they finally win the league for the first time since 2003/04.
Published: Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:03 AM IST