The giants are slayed! After 13 matches and 3 months, East Bengal’s unbeaten run finally ended. And in Trevor Morgan’s words, it wasn’t East Bengal that beat East Bengal, but lowly ONGC that scalped the giants. Although he downplayed his teams chances of remaining unbeaten throughout the season, he would have never have expected ONGC to hand them their first defeat. A Babatunde goal enabled the Oilmen to take all three points and move them away from the bottom of the pile. For East Bengal, defeat meant that they had lost their pole position to Salgaocar, on goal difference. East Bengal looked off-colour for the first time this season. Their strikers missed a host of chances while ONGC defended stoutly through Peter Odafe and company. Tolgay and Nabi were guilty of missing easy chances. The East Bengal defense played another good game though and was unlucky to concede a goal. All in all the Red-and-Golds can be forgiven for having an off-day in office. For ONGC, this could be the spark they needed to pull off a great escape. They are still at the bottom two but are equal on points with Air India.

 

 

Salgaocar: New Table Toppers

 

 

Dempo have brought their stuttering season well and truly back on track after demolishing Churchill Brothers 2-0 in the great Goan derby. In fact, such was the dominance of Dempo’s performance that Churchill couldn’t even string 3-4 continuous passes together and get into their rhythm. Dempo’s India internationals, playing for the first time this season in front of their home crowd, produced a champagne performance to rip the heart out of Churchill Brothers. Mahesh Gawli was absolutely brilliant at the back; he produced one of the best performances by a stopper, back at Fatorda this season. Clifford and Climax, along with Kalu ran the show from midfield. And even though they were missing their talisman Beto, who was out due to a double booking, young Joaquim Abranches stepped up and produced an absolute scorcher of a goal. Straight from a Churchill corner, the ball broke to Peter Carvalho, who kept the ball well, got past a defender and passed it to Kalu. The Nigerian found Abranches with a high ball from his first touch. Abranches got the ball on the bounce and possibly not knowing what to do with it, decided to take his chances. It was indeed a right decision. From outside that box, it curved and went straight into the top corner, beating Arindam Bhattacharya. The goal seemed to rattle Churchill Brothers. The crowd got behind Dempo and from then on Churchill couldn’t even string up decent attacks on the Dempo citadel. Amaury Nunes and Henry Karpeh were well marshaled by Mahesh Gawli and Domnic Noronha and didn’t get even an inch of space to thread balls to Vincent and Rafi. Dempo controlled the game in the second half and even though Subramanium brought in Charan Rai and Durga Boro in place of Karpeh and Rafi, Churchill’s story of miss passes continued. The result was put beyond doubt when Ranti Martins hoodwinked three Churchill defenders to score from outside the box. The win puts Dempo just six points behind leaders Salgaocar and they are now back in the title race.

Maybe, just maybe, this could be Salgaocar’s year of glory. They are back at the top of the I-League, at the half way stage, for possibly the first time in 12 years. Before the game, Salgaocar knew that they had a chance to claim pole position, after East Bengal’s surprise loss the previous day. But they were surprisingly slow off the blocks and didn’t create any chances in the first half hour. However, as time progressed, Salgaocar made their intentions clear.They got their first goal out of the blue. Francis’ corner met an unmarked Yakubu, who headed it home. That seemed to open the floodgates and with the crowd urging them, they got their second 3 minutes before half time. Yakubu, after being fed by Govin Singh – their new recruit – went passed three Viva Kerala defenders with a sudden burst of speed and from the left put in an inch perfect pass to Ryuji Sueoka, who delightfully flicked it with his right leg into the goal, giving the Viva Kerala keeper no chance whatsoever. Salgaocar started the second half the way they ended the first. And just on the hour mark, Yakubu put the result beyond doubt, after his shot from the penalty area took a wicked deflection, that wrong footed goalkeeper Shahinlal. Ekene too got on the score sheet with an injury time goal. Kunnikrishnan will be left scratching his head at the prospect of having to endure yet another relegation battle. Their team looked woeful, even with the likes of N.P  Pradeep and Chinta Chandrashekar.

Mumbai FC continued their impressive showing, beating Air India 1-0 at Kolhapur. Air India suffered their first defeat in three games. Henry Ezeh scored the lone goal for Khalid Jamil’s team, which maintains their fifth position, a point behind Dempo. Air India is above the relegation zone, only on goal difference, and Yusuf Ansari will certainly feel that they have lost the momentum that they had once created.

There were three goalless draws for the first time this season. Chirag-Indian Arrows, Mohun Bagan-Pune FC and HAL-JCT matches finished without tickling the scorers.

Star Of The Week: Yusif Yakubu (Salgaocar Sports Club)

 

 

 

Yusif Yakubu: THT's Star of The Week

 

 

The veteran Ghanaian, one of the most prolific scores in the history of national football league, scored a brilliant brace in the round fourteen encounter against Viva Kerala. Yakubu showed that he has lost none of his poacher’s instinct, when he jumped highest to head the ball over the goal-line, from a Francis Fernandes-corner, in the 38th minute of the game, to give his side a deserved lead. The Ghanaian goal-machine then went on to add another goal in his kitty when his screamer from the edge of the box took an wicked deflection before finding the back of the net to put the game to bed and nipped in bud any chance of a late recovery by the Kunnikrishnan’s side. Deservedly, Yusif Yakubu is TheHardTackle’s “Star of The Week.

Goal of the Week: Joaquim Abranches (Dempo Sports Club)

When you get power, curve, bend and speed in one goal, you know you’ve see something special. The India U-23 captain produced an absolute ripper of a goal, after an injury lay-off, to take this honour. Arindam Bhattacharya stood motionless but there was nothing he could do. With Abranches’ imperious form, Armando Colaco will be spoilt for choice when Beto returns.

Save Of the Week: Subhashish Roy Chowdhary (Dempo Sports Club)

Subhashish Roy Chowdhary bags this award after pulling off a stunning save from a Steven Dias free kick. After Zakeer was brought down by Kalu on the left, Steven unleashed a vicious kick that had speed and dip; but Subhashish leapt high towards his right and pulled off a brilliant one handed save and parried it over the bar.

Miss Of The Week: Anil Kumar (Viva Kerala)

When your star striker muffs up such an easy chance, you know you’re going to have a disastrous day in office. Anil Kumar missed one of the easiest goals he would ever get to score. After being fed by Pradeep, none of the Salgaocar defenders tracked the run of Anil. Karanjit Singh in the Salgaocar goal had no option but to come out and try and make a save. Anil easily rounded him off but just when he was about to slot home into an empty net, he inexplicably over ran the ball, and missed his shot. This allowing Karanjit to come back and make the collection.

The race for the Golden Boot:

Odafa Okolie (Churchill Brothers) : 15

Ryuji Sueoka (Salgaocar) : 13

Tolgay Ozbay (East Bengal) : 9

Kayne Vincent(Churchill Brothers) : 8

Ranti Martins (Dempo) : 8

Ebi Sukore (Mumbai FC) : 7

Elijah Junior (Chirag): 7

Odafa Okolie missing yet another match. This means Ryuji Sueoka has closed the gap to just 2 goals. Ranti also added to his tally of seven goals. With Odafa doubtful for the next game too, Ryuji can start dreaming about getting on even terms with the Nigerian goal machine.

Team Of The Week

Goalkeeper: Subhashish Roy Chowdhary (Dempo Sports Club)

It was certainly a home debut to remember for the former Mahindra United shot stopper. He pulled off some brilliant saves, mostly from long rangers, once off Steven and on another occasion off Zakeer, to keep a clean sheet.

Defenders : Peter Odafe (ONGC), Mahesh Gawli (Dempo), Govin Singh (Salgaocar), Evans Quao (Mumbai FC)

Mahesh Gawli and Govin Singh are back in the I-League and with their performance, they make an appearance in the team of the week for the first time. Both had superb games in defense. Marvellous Mahesh was everywhere on the pitch – tackling, clearing, heading and even crossing for his strikers. Govin was playing at Fatorda for the first time in a Salgaocar shirt and he shelled out a good performance, that will surely have pleased Karim Bencherifa. Peter Odafa, at centre back for ONGC, was instrumental in the Oilmen’s shock victory over East Bengal and deserves a place in the all star team. Evans with his goal scoring prowess will be handy at right back.

Midfielders: Ryuji Sueoka(Salgaocar), Henry Ezeh (Mumbai FC), Ogba Kalu (Dempo)

Ogba Kalu makes the team of the week for the first time this season, after a great performance against his former club. He was the anchor man in the Dempo midfield and did a fabulous job. Henry Ezeh had another assured game at the centre of the park, lending a helping hand in Mumbai’s victory with a goal. Ryuji Sueoka has been tremendous this season and once again makes the team in the midfield

The Strikers: Badmus Babatunde (ONGC), Joaquim Abranches (Dempo), Yusif Yakubu (Salgaocar)

The team of the week has three top strikers this time. Young Abranches scored a peach of a goal and also helped in crossing from the right of midfield. Yakubu looked like an energetic young kid with sudden bursts of speed and acceleration and his brace wins him a place in the team of the week. It was hard to leave out Babatunde especially after his winning goal against near-invincible East Bengal; so he too makes up the three pronged attack.

THT's Team of The Week

 

 

  • Pulok Malakar

    Salgaocar on top for only one week, and we get to see this – 8 players from Goa and 3 from Mumbai? Sorry to say this, but I never thought THT review will ever be this much biased. For heaven’s sake East Bengal was on top for 13 weeks, but we have never seen a team of the week with these many EB players.

    A couple of AIFF XI players deserved to be included in this team. The match was telecast on TV and I have to say Jagroop Singh is a real talent on goal. If the writer had seen his goalkeeping on TV, the save of the week had to be conferred upon him. Defender Abhishek Das was brilliant and kept the famous Chirag attacking combination of Joshimar & Junior in his back pocket. Who is this Govin Singh and what has he done other than leisurely chatting with his goalkeeper and laugh at the nonexistent Viva Kerala forward line in a home game?

    Also Henry Ezeh is a right footed striker and not a winger. I am surprised he got in to the team as a winger that too on the left side! Heights.

    Highly disappointed will be an understatement. :(:(:(

    • TheHardTackle

      Appreciate your feedback. We have noted down your points and soon the author will respond to you.

      Thanks for following TheHardTackle.

      • Jonathan De Sousa

        Dear Pulok-

        Find below the clarifications-

        1. It was too close a call between Subhashish and Jagroop. The reason for selecting Subhashish over Jagroop is the strength of the opposition strike force – Churchill Forward Line > Chirag Forward line. I hope this explanation makes sense.
        2. The formation for Team of the week is not a traditional 4-4-2. Henry Ezeh will not play as a traditional winger, but as a part of 3 men central midfield, overlapping left back Evan Quao will play on the left wing while making attacking moves. Ezeh will mostly be used as a supporting striker here.

        I understand your sentiments and thanks for pointing out the flows. It will help us improve.

    • Jonathan De Sousa

      Hi Pulok. Thanks for the comment. I respect your opinion. But there used to be three to four East Bengal players at a time in Tolgay, Mehtab, Orji, Nandi and Naoba- all from one team while this weeks team had players consisting from two Goan teams. Kalu was brilliant. Mahesh was irreplaceable in the star team while Abranches’ stunner deserved to put him in the team. Abhishek Das may have been brilliant but I had to get in Mahesh as he was playing against much better quality in Karpeh, Rafi, Steven, Vincent and Amaury (no disrespect to Chirag).Odafe had to be in there as he defended against the likes of East Bengal. Ryuji was brilliant as always and Yakubu scored a brace. All of Salgaocars attacks originated from the left and from the boots of Govin Singh so he was there in the team purely on his attacking instincts. He was in the India team too at Qatar and is a pretty decent player. It didn’t help that there were three goalless draws so that counted out almost six teams. Had to get the remaining players from the other eight. I still feel Subhashish’s save was top class. I haven’t seen Jagroops save on tv as that channel isn’t available in Goa, However I’m sure if you were present at Fatorda to see Chowdhury’s save you would know why I was inclined to put him there. Ezeh can always exchange flanks with Ryuji as the Japanese often drifts behind the strikers during the game and usually finds himself on the left. Abranches plays for India on the right so Ezeh can be promoted up front, constantly exchanging roles.

      • Pulok Malakar

        Dear Jonathan D’Souza,

        Thanks for the clarifications. Still I am not convinced. I could now find Govin Singh’s contribution anywhere on the live commentary updates provided by you from the stadium. If he was that good, his name should have been mentioned at least at a couple of places, right? Also being an EB fan myself I knw how much talented Govin Singh is. I can never for get that 3-5 drubbing against Bagan last season, and do you know what, it’s Govin who was responsible for 3 of the goals. Thank God we off-loaded him.

        Also the logic behind inclusion of Subhashish is flawed. A great save does not mean that he has to feature in the team of the week. The criteria should always be overall performance for the 90 minutes duration. Anyway, it is looking like a never-ending argument. Let’s agree to disagree and end the debate here.

        Cheere.

        • Somnath_Sengupta

          Didnt Subrata Pal and Bhaskar Banerjee conceded 4 goals in Kolkata derby ?

          I am surprised that you are totally ignoring the fact that a player can improve over time. Even Oliver Kahn was once called Oliver Kahnt for his errors.

          • Pulok Malakar

            Are you suffering from selective amnesia? Why are you taking up bits and pieces from my post and then commenting?

            Where did I refuse that a player can’t improve over time? I just mentioned that Govin was pathetic in his stay with EB and we did the right thing by off-loading him. That’s all.

            I don’t understand why did you ignore the main point of my post which states that if Govin was that good and all the Salgaocar’s attacks from left originated from his boots, why didn’t he found a mention in the entire live commentary given by the very same author?

            Also I forgot to mention in my previous post that the author’s logic that he can choose players only from four winning teams, counting out draws and losses, is null and void. If a certain player has played brilliantly and other 10 players in his team had let the team down, then irrespective of team’s result, he should feature in the best team. Having said that a certain weight must be given to the players helping his side to win, but it should not be more than 10%.

  • Anirban Nandy

    I agree with @Pulok. It smells of Goan fish curry.

    Have you noticed one thing, earlier the title for the review used to be “I-League Diary – Episode XX” and this time it’s “I-League Diary: Episode 14 – The Goan Greens On Course Of Another I-League Glory?” Do I need to explain more?

    Anything you have to say about that?

    Also has Peter Odafe and Evans Quao has ever played as the full back? Odafe has always played as a center back, and as per goal.com player profile Evan Quao is a midfielder. Confused!

    • thehardtackle

      Dear Anirban,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      We would look into the subject and get back to you.

      Its only your constructive criticism that can help us in our endeavor to
      bring you top quality content on Indian Football.

      Thanks again.

    • Jonathan De Sousa

      Dear Anirban –

      The title has been corrected to the previously used format. Thanks for pointing it out. Also I would like to state that Evans Quao, although bought to strengthen MFC midfield, has been deployed on the defense quite often by Khalid Jamil. He played as a CB against East Bengal while against Churchill he was used as a LB to counter the attacking threats of Bineesh Balan. It’s evident that he is comfortable both in midfield and in defense too.

      Thanks for the feedback. Keep them flowing, it will help us to in our endeavor to
      bring you top quality content on Indian Football.

  • Sayak Sarkar

    ONGC’s young goalkeeper Prasenjit Ghosh should have made it. It’s not easy for a reserve goalkeeper to step in just ahead of the match against no1 team and maintain a cleansheet against Tolgay, Robin, Sushil, Penn, Mehtab, Alexander forward line. He made three stunning saves in the final 20 minutes when East Bengal was attacking with 10 players upfront for the equalizer.

    Govin Singh’s inclusion is the joke of the week.

  • som,kolkatta

    perfect article..well written..trophy going to goa for sure