It’s a near crisis for defending champions Dempo Sports Club as they slumped to their second loss of the season going down comprehensively to Salgaocar Sports club 1-3 at Margao. Dempo’s loss means they are now a massive ten points behind run-away leaders East Bengal. Dempo took an early lead in the 4th min after a Peter Carvalho corner was headed in by Ogba Kalu – his first goal in Dempo colours in the I-league. But that goal suddenly spurred on Karim’s young turks – who had a point to prove in front of their home fans after receiving a 3-1 drubbing to Mohun Bagan in the previous game. They produced an inspiring performance to pump in three goals to seal Dempo’s fate. The rout could have been worse for Dempo had Ryuji Sueoka and Francis Fernandes not missed gilt edged chances. The Dempo defense was non existent and was completely clueless trying to contain the mazy runs of Salgaocars wingers, Anthony Barbosa and Francis Fernandes. The midfield too was off colour with Beto having an unusually subdued game.
It was a David versus two Goliaths battle but Ryuji Sueoka got the better of both the giant Dempo defenders – John Dias and Domnic Noronha and scored the equalizer for Salgaocar before the break after heading in an Anthony Barbosa cross from the right. After the break Coach Armando Colaco brought in Iranian and former Salgaocar player Rouhollah Samieinia and Micky Fernandes to strengthen the midfield but clearly nothing could come in the way of the Green Army as Francis increased the lead for Salgaocar with a powerful shot giving Laxmikant Kattimani no chance. If that wasn’t enough for the suffering Dempo fans, Marcus Peixoto made the schoolboy error of tackling Francis from behind to concede an easy penalty. Sueoka made no mistake sending Kattimani the wrong way giving his side all three points. This probably will be Kattimani’s last start as Subhashish Roy Chowdhary would be expected to be in Dempo’s goal in their next game. With this win Salgaocar maintained the five point gap from table topper East Bengal. For Dempo, its time to SOS Climax, Clifford and Mahesh.
In the other game at Margao, Churchill Brothers made light of Odafa’s absence and registered their second win without their talisman. Robert Lalthalama turned Roberto Carlos for the day with a pile driver of a free kick giving Churchill the lead after The Airmen held them goalless in the first half. Charan Rai made it 2-0 for them with a simple tap in.
There were wins for Bengal’s big two with frontrunners East Bengal getting the better of Viva Kerala at Calicut. Tolgay Ozbay’s eighth goal of the season was enough to seal three points for Trevor Morgans side. East Bengal are looking like the Champion material already, eking out narrow victories at tricky venues. The rivals certainly need to produce something special to stop them at the moment.
Mohun Bagan notched up their second win on the trot beating The Oilmen ONGC 3-1 at Kolhapur. It was a repeat of the scoring pattern in their previous game with Ishfaq giving them the lead and Chidi Edeh scoring two more goals. However Chirag United failed to make it three out of three for the Bengali’s after going down 1-0 to Mumbai FC at the Salt Lake. Mumbai FC are now level on points with Chirag and lie in seventh position.
Derrick Pereira’s Pune FC returned to The Balewadi Sports Complex after a month. But they failed to capitalize on home advantage loosing 1-0 to HAL. Pune FC are struggling this season and are just a point above the relegation zone. After a great debut season things have fallen apart for Derrick this year. Their players have performed below par this season. They have also been victims of some shoddy refereeing in their previous two games that have compounded the problems. Derrick needs to get things in order quickly before the damage gets bigger. He will certainly welcome back Subrata Paul in the goal.
In the final game of the round AIFF XI continue to look impressive after holding JCT FC to a 0-0 draw at Gurgaon which moves them above Pune FC.
Star Of the Week: Ryuji Sueoka (Salgaocar)
It was another Ryuji Rendezvous for Salgaocar as their star player led them to another derby win of the season. It was a battle of pride for the two local giants but Ryuji was simply unstoppable on the day as he has been all season, scoring two and assisting the other. He has reveled at Salgaocar with coach Karim giving him a free role enabling him to switch flanks and create plenty of problems for the rival defense.
Goal Of The Week: Robert Lalthalama (Churchil Brothers)
Those who say Roberto Carlos’ bullet free kicks for Real Madrid and Brazil were the best ever from a left footed player, should have come down to the Nehru Stadium at Fatorda. It was another Robert who replicated his Brazilian namesake’s thunderbolts. Robert Lalthalama fired in a rasping curler that bent round the wall with ferocious speed that nearly took the Air India keepers hand off.
Save Of The Week: Sandip Nandy (East Bengal)
Since returning back to his mother club East Bengal, after injury robbed him of two complete seasons at his prime, Sandip Nandy has brought with him an assured calmness at the Red-&-Gold back-line. The best thing about this veteran goalkeeper is his ability to remain calm in the most demanding situations. Any aspiring goalkeeper can learn a lot from him by the way he organizes his defenders. It was because of his presence that East Bengal has been able to notch up edgy 1-0 wins at some tricky venues and these are the wins which ultimately decides a marathon championship.
The veteran goalkeeper displayed another spirited performence under the East Bengal woodwork in their narrow 1-0 away win over Viva Kerala in round 10. He made a number of saves during the course of the match, however the best of the lot came in the dying momments of the match when Viva got a free-kick in a dangerous position just at the edge of East Bengal box. C.S. Sabeeth unleashed a curling delivery aiming the top left corner, which took a wicked deviation in air and dipped in at the very last moment. But Sandip was equal to the task as he acrobatically dived to his left and tipped the ball over the bar.
Miss of The Week: Nicolau Borges (Dempo)
He had a miserable day at the office and missed a glorious opportunity to put Dempo ahead in stoppage time of the first half. Off a Salgaocar corner Peter received the ball and played in a superb pass to Clifton who ran from half line, got past two Salgaocar defenders and played an inch perfect pass to Nicolau but he put it over the cross bar. Had that gone in it would have certainly made the game more interesting and perhaps Dempo could have even walked away with three points.
The Race For The Golden Boot Award:
Odafa Okolie (Churchill Brothers): 15
Ryuji Sueoka (Salgaocar): 10
Tolgay Ozbay (East Bengal): 8
Sueoka brace moves him to ten goals, five behind Odafa who missed the second game in a row. Tolgay also got himself on the score sheet moving his tally to eight. Odafa’s absence has given Sueoka and Tolgay a chance to make up the lost ground and Sueoka will definitely look to add at least a couple of more goals against JCT on Sunday.
TheHardTackle’s Team of The Week:
Goal Keeper: Lalit Thapa
This could be his last start for Churchill before Arindam replaces him but that didn’t stop him from dishing out another solid performance under the bar. Although he didn’t have much work to do he kept his concentration and made a couple of good saves when it was needed. Coach Vincent definitely doesn’t have to look too far in case Arindam is injured in the future.
Defenders: Naoba Singh (East Bengal), Rowilson Rodrigues (Churchill Brothers), Jaspal Parmar (Salgaocar), Robert Lalthalama (Churchill Brothers)
Rowilson was back in the starting line up and back in form after a horror game against Salgaocar. Partnering him at centre back is the fast improving Jaspal Parmar. He played a tight game at the back allowing Ranty Martins and Beto very little space to operate and also pushed forward in attack especially for set pieces. The left back position in TheHardTackle’s team of the week goes to a great hard tackler – Robert Lalthalma. In fact going by his present form it will only be a matter of time before he gets a national call up. Naoba Singh gets in to the team of the week for the third week running after another assured performance at right back. He is slowly becoming Trevor Morgans Man Friday.
Midfielders: Francis Fernandes (Salgaocar), Ebi Sukore (Mumbai FC), Penn Orji (East Bengal), Ishfaq Ahmed (Mohun Bagan)
It was tempting not to include both Salgaocar’s brave hearts Francis Fernandes and Anthony Barbosa at left and right wing respectively. Both were outstanding on the flanks completely annihilating the Dempo defense. But Ishfaq gets the nod on the left only because of his goal scoring ability. Ebi Sukore, a burly Nigerian would fit into midfield nicely allowing the ever reliable Penn Orji to be the anchor man.
Strikers: Ryuji Sueoka (Salgaocar), Edeh Chidi (Mohun bagan)
Sueoka has probably been the most outstanding player of the season so far. He along with Chidi – who has found his scoring boots once again – would make a perfect pair. Sueoka with his dribbling ability can create plenty of space for Chidi to feed on and apply the finishing touches.