A dream start to the league campaign – sixth win on-the-trot; Morgan’s Red & Gold juggernaut is rolling on breaking all the existing records. Kingfisher East Bengal pumped half-a-dozen goals against a helpless Air India outfit to strengthen their top of the table billing and take a six points cushion over second placed Salgaocar side. Skipper Soumik Dey opened up the floodgates against the Airmen in the 11th minute before Tolgay Ozbey added a brace and Robin Singh, Mehtab Hussain, Ravinder Singh chipped in with one goal each. However, Sandip Nandy’s unbeaten run of 511 minutes without conceding a goal in I-League came to an end in the 54th minute of the match, when Air India’s Eric Boiwe scored against the run of play – this is the first goal conceded by the Red & Gold defense in this league edition after maintaining clean-sheets in previous five matches.

Karim Bencharifa’s Salgaocar slumped to their second consecutive loss against Derrick Pereira’s Pune FC, who registered their very first win of the campaign. Clinching all three points from this match, Pune moves up to the 10th spot in the league table with 7 points. Another team to register their first win is Sukhwinder Singh’s JCT FC; the Ludhiana based side managed to scrape past a struggling Viva Kerala outfit 1-0 – thanks to a Maninder Singh goal in the 50th minute.

Tolgay – in the process of completing his brace against Air India

Mohun Bagan continued their revival battle as they blanked Mumbai FC 2-0 at Yuvabharati Krirangan, Salt Lake. Muritala scored the opener for the Green & Maroons in first half injury time before Asim Biswas doubled the lead with a long range screamer in the 80th minute. After Subhash Bhowmick has taken over the duty at Bagan, they managed to get 2 wins and 1 draw under their belt in last three matches to climb up to the 8th position. AIFF XI also registered their second win; a 2-1 win over HAL SC helped them to clinch the 11th position by the end of round 6.

Newly promoted ONGC FC showed great resistance to snatch one point off Churchill Brothers. The Mumbai based institutional team took a surprise lead through N.D. Opara in the 20th minute, but failed to maintain the lead as Odafa Okolie once again came to the rescue of the Goan team with a perfectly judged free kick in the first half injury time. Churchill remains at the 3rd spot, 8 points behind the league leaders, while ONGC could just move out of the relegation zone by virtue of a better goal difference.

Ex-Dempo goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal returned to Goa in Chirag colours to haunt his former club as an inspirational performance by the veteran custodian earned a valuable point for his side from the Goa trip. Dempo dominated the match right from the word go and after Ranty Martins failed to convert a penalty, Clifton Gonsalves gave the home team an early lead in the first half. However the Kolkata side fought valiantly to snatch one point at the stroke of the final whistle when Joshimar da Silva Martins scored the equalizer for Chirag in the 89th minute.

Subhash Bhowmick magic seems to be working for Mohun Bagan

Star of the Week: Mehtab Hussain (East Bengal)

Indian national team coach Bob Houghton’s decision not to pick the talented midfielder for the national duty is looking like a big blunder with every passing day. The “Double-Cylinder” produced another scintillating performance at the heart of the Red & Gold midfiled pulling the strings of attack against Air India. All the six East Bengal goals have more or less contribution from this reliable play-maker. With 3 assists and 1 goal, Mehtab once again clinches TheHardTackle’s Star of the Week award.

Goal of the Week: Mehtab Hussain (East Bengal)

It’s double delight for the “Double-Cylinder”. Mehtab is the pick for the Goal of the Week award as well for the amazing 35 yards scorcher scored in the 88th minute of the match. Just a few minutes ago, Robin Singh got the marching orders for receiving his second booking and Air India were trying desperately to score another against a 10 men East Bengal side; Mehtab unleashed a thunderous swerving strike on the run from 35 yards out which kissed to inside of the top right corner before going in – arguably one of the best goals scored in this I-League edition so far. Asim Biswas’s goal against Mumbai FC also deserves a mention here – his 80th minute strike was no less than world class !

Save of the Week: Shilton Pal (Mohun Bagan)

Only on the rarest of rare occasions we do get to see the goalkeeper of a team that won the match by a 2-0 margin being awarded the man of the match award. The match between Mohun Bagan and Mumbai FC witnessed it after Shilton Pal produced a number of world class saves to earn all three points for the Green & Maroons. The young ‘keeper denied Mumbai FC clear cut scoring opportunities in the 18th, 32nd, 44th and 63rd minute of the match. The superb reflex save in the 32nd minute deserves special mention here. Shilton, staying true to his name, dived full stretch to his left to pull off a finger-tipped save off Ebi Sukore to keep his side in the game.

The Savior of the Week: Odafa Okolie (Churchill Brothers)

The most successful striker in the history of I-League was once again at his team’s rescue after Churchill conceded an early goal against ONGC FC. The Nigerian goal-machine played his heart out to score the equalizer just at the stroke of half time to earn his team a valuable point from their trip to Kohlapur. The influence of Odafa on Churchill’s fortunes can be validated from the fact that out of the team’s 11 goals in this campaign, 10 has been scored by the talismatic Nigerian.

The Race for the Golden Boot Award:

1. Odafa Okolie [Churchill] – 10
2. Tolgay Ozbey [East Bengal] – 6
3. Ryuiji Sueoka [Salgaocar] -5

A whopping 95 goals have been scored from the 42 matches played so far in this season. It’s not surprising to find Odafa on top of the goal scoring chart, however the gap which he has opened up with second placed Tolgay is quite astonishing. Odafa added one more goal to his tally in the match against ONGC, while Tolgay did admirably well to close the gap a little bit by notching up a brace against Air India. Salgaocar Ryuiji Sueoka is in the 3rd position with 5 goals to his name.

East Bengal’s Robin Singh and Dempo’s Clifton Gonsalves lead the scoring chart among the desi boys with 3 goals apiece. Murali J, Anthony Barbosa and Gilbert Oliveira all have 2 goals to their name.

Team of the Week:

Goalkeeper: Shilton Pal

It’s a difficult choice between Mohun Bagan’s Shilton Pal and Chirag United’s Abhijit Mondal. Both the goalkeepers produced some amazing saves throughout the course of the matches to earn vital points for their team. However, our vote goes to Mohun Bagan’s Shilton Pal for ensuring the clean-sheet and all three points.

Naoba Singh, Peter Odafe, Omoloja, Selwyn Fernandes

ONGC’s Peter Odafe, the Nigerian defender, did a commendable job to mark out his country-men Churchill Brothers Odafa Okolie to get his first nomination in TheHardTackle’s Team of the Week. Partnering Peter in the heart of defense will be JCT FC’s Omoloja, who had a brilliant outing against Viva Kerala and was adjudged the official man of the match.

Team of the Week -Round 6

East Bengal Naoba Singh will once again start as the right wing back, while partnering him on the opposite flank will be Pune FC’s Selwyn Fernandes, who not only displayed solid defending, but also capped his brilliant showing by scoring the solitary goal of the match.

Mehtab Hussain, Sunil Kumar, Tirthankar Sarkar, Ishfaq Ahmed

East Bengal’s Mehtab Hussain, our Star of the Week, will have the responsibility of playing the game-maker role in the Team of the Week. AIFF XI’s Tirthankar Sarkar will partner Mehtab in a more advance position. Thirtankar had a fine outing against HAL SC and provided the assist for Malswamfela’s goal.

Pune FC winger Sunil Kumar deserves a place in the starting XI for his amazing attacking display against Salgaocar. Mohun Bagan skipper Ishfaq Ahmed, a natural left winger who had to start as a left back for providing solidity to their depleted defense, delivered a gem of a performance against Mumbai FC. He was involved in most of the Bagan attack with his trademark marauding overlapping runs on the left flank. That’s why Ishfaq is our choice to start on the left side of the midfiled, which is also his favorite position.

Tolgay Ozbey, N.D. Opara

East Bengal goal machine Tolgay Ozbey is having a brilliant run in his very first season in Indian football. He has scored six goals in as many matches, including a brace against Air India in this round. ONGC FC dangerman N.D. Opara, who snatched a point for his team in the match against Churchill by scoring a wonderful goal, is our choice to partner the East Bengal striker in the attacking department.

So here’s a final look at our team of the week for round-6:
Shilton – Naoba, Omoloja, Odafe, Selwyn – Mehtab – Sunil, Tirthankar, Ishfaq – Opara, Tolgay.

56 Responses to “The I-League Weekly Diary : Episode 6”

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  1. Rudra says:

    Thanks for these updates….

    Although I am not convinced by Opara their, he made a huge difference but was hardly involved in full 90 mins, as the game was being played in their half only!!! However, I can’t think of another standout striker this week – Robin was good but got red card, Ranty Martins missed penalty, Jeje missed penalty, Muritala was spoofed by Baretto, Baretto played well provided opportunities but missed few easy ones, Salgaocar strikers didn’t made any impact (Elija was substituted early and Sueonka off color)….

    So, yes I would say its we have to choose between Opara, Fela, Baretto

  2. Rudra says:

    @Debapriya –

    Are you also choosing based on position?

    I think Tirthankar plays in one of the wings (not sure though) and Ishfaq played as left back (you mentioned that)

  3. debojyoti says:

    i am amazed that why okpara is not is the 1st 11.As he is showing grate consistancy in the back..I think Robin singh is also a automatic choice…

  4. Rudra says:

    @Debojyoti –

    agreed but bcoz they played against AI and won 6-1, so defenders didn’t have much to do in that match, so Okpara might not be a good choice for this round….the defenders chosen here are those who were continuously tormented by opposition strikers…..

    Robin singh wud have made it, but his red card was the reason why he is not here (i assume so)

  5. Raju says:

    I don’t think mehtab is the star of the week. Shilton was quite brilliant in the round 6 match against mfc. You should have considered him.

  6. Debapriya Deb says:

    @Rudra, the foremost criteria for selection is performance and then comes specific position. Suppose two players on left wing played superbly in a particular week and there was no better performance by any central midfielder, then one of the two wingers may get drafted in to feature in the midfield, if he has previous experience of playing in such a role.

    In this team, Ishfaq’s selection on the left wing was on similar grounds and the same thing applies for Tirthankar also. No other central midfielder including Beto, Penn, Sueoka were highly impressive in this round.

    For the selection of 2nd striker, the quality of the opposition defenders have also been taken into consideration and that’s the reason behind Opara’s selection ahead of Fela and Barreto.

    @Debojyoti, as Rudra mentioned Robin’s exclusion was because of that marching order; he could have done better to avoid that. And Okpara could have taken a sound nap during the course of the match – such was the impact of Air India strikers :). Omoloja and Peter Odafe both were the standout performers in this round.

  7. pulok malakar says:

    Another terrific review. Without any live broadcast on tv your weekly diary is the savior for fans like us. the only comprehensive source of information on i league. thanks a lot. great picks for the weekly team too.

    I agree that it is a big mistake to ignore Mehtab Hossain for the asian cup. he is having a terrific season and the lad deserves a place in the national team. Robin Singh’s omission is also a mistake. Bhutia is too old to play full 90 minute and he is injured still now. Robin, Sunil and Rafi would be ideal selection for strike dept. i don’t understand how Sushil gets in ahead of Rafi. With this forward line i dont think we can score even a single goal in the whole tournament :(

  8. Amitabh Ganguly says:

    I disagree on some points however the majority of the sections you added I do agree. Why not Sanju and Shoumik in the team. Shoumik Dey being a defender scored the opening goal for East Bengal and I think that should be reason enough to include him. Rest of the choices are fine.

  9. Sourav says:

    I-league 2010-11 can be telecasted on national sports channel, img is taking care of this broadcast issue. And it’s reportedly said that within 10th of jan the channel will be selected. Ten action+ n sony have shown their interest. Lets see. But everything on this matter will be clear within next 9 days

  10. Manjunath says:

    @Sourav – that’s a great news. However I could not find any reference of this anywhere in the web or print media. Can you mention the source of this news?

    Thanks for this weekly wrap up of ILeague, really enjoyed reading this series. But I have one complaint with this weekly diary. Your team selection is mostly inclined towards the Calcuttan clubs, hardly any goan player feature in your weekly team. I hope that players from churchill, salgaocar and dempo gets their due credits here.

  11. Sourav says:

    Yes obviously i can mention my source. It’s ABP’s one football journalist. I won’t take his name. @manjunath