Round-7 Prediction Statistics:

Correct Predictions : 3/7
Exact Score-line : 1/7

Season’s Prediction Statistics:

 Correct Predictions : 28/49
Exact Score-line : 12/49

 

East Bengal  
v
Pune FC
 

Kolkata, 08/01/2011 – 1:45 PM IST 

–  

Trevor Morgan’s Red-&-Gold army finally dropped some points as their perfect record came to a halt when they were held to a 1-1 draw at the Sahu Maharaj ground at Kolhapur by a resilient Mumbai FC side. The Nigerian centre back Okpara gave visitors the lead in the first half but a Henry Ezeh strike late in the second half made East Bengal to concede their second goal in the whole season, as Trevor Morgan’s decision to substitute Tolgay backfired.

Trevor would be hoping to get back to the winning ways as they welcome Robin singh and captain Soumik Dey into their ranks for this match at YBK, and maintain their lead at the summit of the league standings. Naoba singh is in the form of his life delivering his crosses in dangerous areas for the “Toly-Roly” duo, and he would be the man to watch out for the Pune FC left back. 

Pune FC shared the points with Air India in the previous round, as Derrick Pereira’s side tried to breach the Airmen’s wall of defense in the Maharashtra derby. The Red Lizards enjoyed a good share of possession, but could not capitalize on that. The side from Pune hasn’t lost a single game in their last five outings, and slowly but maturely they have made their way up the table, currently slotted at seventh position. Lack of goals upfront and leaking silly goals has been the problem to ponder about for the Pune FC management.

The comeback kings pass the ball around, showcasing nice flowing football, but aren’t able to reflect that on the scoring sheet. They are missing that killer pass in the final third which is letting them down. As they travel to YBK, Derrick Pereira needs to expect same gritty and robust performance from his defense line as they could face a resurgent East Bengal aftermath dropping points for the first time in this campaign. The Japanese recruit Izumi Arata would again hold the playmaking key for the Red Lizards, if they want to salvage any points from this fixture. 

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For: 

Mehtab Hussain (East Bengal), Edmar (Pune FC) 

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: 

East Bengal 2 – 0 Pune FC 

——
AIFF XI
v
Dempo
 SC

Gurgaon, 08/01/2011 – 2:00 PM IST     

Coach Desmond Bulpin’s boys were on the wrong side of another heavy defeat, this time to Churchill brothers as the Goan champions slotted 6 goals past their wretched defense. After mettlesome performances in round five and six, just as it was looking that the young side is finally getting its act together at the supreme level, the side went down like a pack of cards. Desmond’s boys need to pull their socks up as they host another Goan side and the defending champions Dempo.

The under 21 Desi blues need to come back strong if they want to cache any points from this clash in Gurgaon. The midfield trio of Bikramjeet, Shilton and Jewel raja need to rediscover the synchronization which was looking bright in the previous rounds. Striker Malsawmfela would be again hoping to be a menace for the strong Dempo defense. 

Dempo, on the other hand, are unbeaten in their last five league matches, dropping only 4 points. A sturdy and professional performance against lowly lying ONGC helped Armando Colaco’s side garner all three points. Dempo have slowly clawed their way back in top four, hovering just below the other two Goan clubs and East Bengal. With Joaquim back and scoring for the champs in the previous match, Dempo would be hoping to seal this match – courtesy goals form its lethal strike force of Ranty and  Beto, who have been guilty  of missing many open chances in recent times.

Ranty would be looking to get on the score sheet too as he hasn’t donned the scoring boots since he scored in the fourth round. Beto again would be the man to mark by the AIFF mid field, after all it was his defense piercing ball which was slotted in the back of the net by Joachim in round seven.

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For: 

Jeje Lalpekhlua (AIFF XI), Ranti Martins (Dempo) 

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: 

AIFF XI 0 – 3 Dempo 

Mumbai FC
v
Viva Kerala
 

Kohlapur, 08/01/2011 – 3:30 PM IST 

 –

Khalid Jamil’s side put in an impressive and fighting  performance as Mumbai FC played out a 1-1 draw against the almost unvanquishable Red-&-Gold brigade in the previous round match at the Sahu Mahraj ground last Tuesday.  It was a closely fought contest with both the teams attacking and going for the win. Henry Ezeh scored for the Mumbai side in the 75th minute coming off the bench, heading in the equalizer, after his side was trailing at the breather.  Mumbai FC finally managed to break the three match losing streak at home and will be hoping to continue with the same momentum when they welcome Viva Kerala. Khalid Jamil will hope that Dane Pereira and Keegan once again put in a solid performance at the back to keep out the Viva centre forwards. 

Viva Kerala travel to Kohlapur, high on confidence after notching up their first victory of the season as they went past  Mohun Bagan comprehensively  in their previous match at the Jawahar Municipal Stadium, Kannur. Karma Tsewang scored the first goal for the Neelapadda, kick starting the euphoric celebrations in the stands. Viva doubled their lead after the break as Anil kumar slotted the second goal, diminishing any hope of a Mohun Bagan comeback. C.S. Sabeeth is expected to make a start after missing the previous encounter, which will surely keep Peter Siddique and Anas on their toes. Kunhikrishnan would be hoping that his side start demonstrating spirited performances like in Kannur  more consistently as they moves up the table and is currently slotted at ninth. 

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For: 

Dane Pereira (Mumbai FC), Bello Rasaq (Viva Kerala) 

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: 

Mumbai FC 2 – 1 Viva kerala 

–  

Salgaocar SC
v
Churchill Brothers
 

Margaon, 08/01/2011 – 3:45 PM IST     

The big Goan derby kicks off on Saturday between the two heavyweights of Goan football. Salgaocar clinched a one-nil victory over HAL in last round, courtesy a Luciano Sabrosa early strike. A well delivered corner by Ryuji Sueoka found the centre back captain unmarked who  headed the ball home from an acute angle. The Nigerian old horse Yakubu hit the post as many as 4 times in that match as Salgaocar controlled the proceedings and had the lion’s share of ball possession.

Karim Bencharifa’s  side welcome the dangerous Churchill side, and would be having revenge on their mind as they couldn’t manage to win against Churchill on both the occasions last season. Salgaocar’s defense would have its work cut out when they plan to defend against the big gangly striker Odafa Okolie. It would be interesting to see what tactics does the veteran Moroccan deploy to stop the goal machine.

Churchill Brothers maintained their third spot in the table and managed to close the gap on East Bengal after they demolished the young AIFF XI brigade, thrashing 6 goals past them in round 7. Odafa claimed a ridiculous five scalps in the rout. Vincent Subramaniam’s side take on their local rivals side with vigour and force which is automatically injected in the side by the mere presence of odafa. The link up play between the left back Robert Lalthalma and the playmaker Zakeer would again be crucial in the derby, after both of them put in a gritty performance in the last round. 

 With both the teams looking to close in the lead east Bengal have opened up at the top and second place up for grabs , it will be a very crucial derby clash at Nehru Stadium . One thing is for sure that it wouldn’t be a dull scoreless draw with African duo of odafa and Yakubu on the field. 

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For: 

Yusif Yakubu (Salgaocar), Odafa Okolie (Churchill Brothers) 

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: 

Salgaocar 2 – 2 Churchill Brothers 

– 

Mohun Bagan
v
Chirag United
 

Kolkata, 09/01/2011 – 1:45 PM IST 

The Mariners registered their first defeat under Subhas Bhowmick since he took over after round three, as the Kolkata giants were humbled by Viva Kerala at the Municipal Stadium, Kannur. The Green-&-Maroons couldn’t enjoy a good spell of possession as they could adjust to the erratic pitch. Once again, the midfield players like Snehashish, Manish and Jayanta combined well with overlapping Ishfaq and Dhanarajan who in turn fed Muritala and Barreto. But Subhas Bhowmick was left lamenting poor finishing in the final third as his side created many chances and free kicks but couldn’t make the most of it, and they slipped to eighth position in the table.  The defenders would be hoping to forget the insipid performance as they welcome a solid Chirag united for the first Kolkata Derby of the season. 

The Durand Cup champions are occupying a tidy fifth spot in the league table as they face Bagan challege. Chirag United haven’t lost in last five games but the Kolkata side will sorely miss their  Nigerian top scorer Elija junior in this match also, if he could not recover ahead of the big match on Sunday. His partnership with Brazilian Josimar can trouble the Mohan Bagan full backs and would demand their alertness all the time. Both sides will be looking for a win and move up the table. 

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For: 

Snehashish Chakraborty (Mohun Bagan), Denson Devadas (Chirag United) 

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: 

Mohun Bagan 0 – 0 Chirag United 

–  

JCT FC
v
ONGC
 

Ludhiana, 09/12/2011 – 2:00 PM IST 

The inaugural national champions JCT are just levitating above the relegation zone as they swapped places with ONGC after playing a dull draw against Chirag United in Kolkata. Despite of the fact that Sukhwinder Singh deployed all the attacking tactics in the last game, JCT couldn’t break the shackles and get a goal at YBK. The main problem with the Ludhiana side lies upfront. The Millmen have scored  only a solitary goal in their last five I-league matches.

Sukhwinder Singh will try to bring JCT’s derailed season back on track when they host the Mumbai based institutional side, ONGC SC, hoping that his strikers get on the score sheet. The menacing winter in Punjab could help JCT clinch some crucial points as Mumbai boys would not be used to the chilly winds, even during the afternoon kick-off. It’s time for senior players in the team like Baldeep Singh to step up and be counted. 

ONGC was dumped into the relegation zone after they were shrugged aside by the defending champions Dempo in round seven, despite a very spunky performance by the defenders. Subrata Bhattacharya’s (Jr) debutant side is still looking for its first elusive win in the league, and no better time to get it when they travel up north to meet fellow strugglers in a bottom of the table clash. Both sides would want to get out of the relegation zone by notching up a victory and gain some confidence from this crucial match at the Guru Nanak Stadium. Both JCT and Viva are expected to line up an attacking formation and go for all three points. 

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For: 

Baldeep Singh (JCT), Babatunde (ONGC) 

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: 

JCT FC 1 – 0 ONGC 

  –

Air India
v
HAL SC 

Kohlapur, 09/01/2011 – 3:30 PM IST 

Air India lie at the rock bottom of the league table after playing a stalemate in Kolhapur against Pune FC in round seven. The Airmen have looked anxious  with the ball, with a strategy of soaking up all the pressure coming their way. They welcome the side from Bengaluru in round eight, looking to grab their maiden three points. There is not much to talk about the side as they need to re-strategize and start to attack more, keeping the long ball game as plan B. The side is too predictable when they attack, which testifies their position in the league. Yusuf Ansari’s side have been heavily tipped to be relegated to the second division. 

HAL have slumped to tenth in the league table after a wonderful start to the season. With football returning to Bangalore, the side lost their first home match of the season to Salgaocar. It could have been worse for HAL as their defending looked out of sorts against good quality attacking football.

Thyagraj’s side have nullified the surprising good start to their season as they have lost four of their last five league matches. The Karnataka side will be looking to renovate their form as they make a short trip to Maharashtra. HAL players, who displayed short passing strategic game in their opening fixtures, would be looking to revive that form against Air India, in this important  bottom of the table clash. 

TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For: 

Samson Singh (Air India), R.C. Prakash (HAL) 

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: 

Air India 0 – 1 HAL