The action is heating up in the I-League and after the thrills of Round 10, it is time for the 11th round as Dempo host Pune and East-Bengal clash with Prayag. TheHardTackle takes a look at the matches and also at key tactical battles that could shape the results in the seven matches to be played in this round.
Salgaocar Host ONGC In The Battle Of Bottom-Two Sides
Out of form Salgaocar FC take their best shot to win all three points today for only the second time in the season as they welcome fellow strugglers ONGC FC to the PJN stadium in Margao. Since the arrival of their new coach Booth, Salgaocar have struggled to garner points with four losses in their last five games. Aussie striker Rooney, who had shown some flashes of brilliance in the Goan derby, would be our man to watch out for this match, which Salgaocar would be favorites to win. Coach Booth would be asking for a gritty performance with minimal of concentration at the back, which cost the Vasco side all three points in the last round match against Pune FC. Three points would be a boost for the former champions as they look to make their way back. The Goan side could take the field without Captain Luciano Sabrosa, Francis Fernandes and Anthony D’sousa- who are all struggling with injuries.
Mumbai based ONGC FC would be relishing the fixture against Salgaocar to bring their derailed season on track. The institutional side has an impressive home record in Delhi, but coach Subrata Bhattacharya was left lamenting as he saw his side give away a two goal cushion in their last game. ONGC are without few of their major players, but would be hoping to put in their best performance in Fatorda today. Japanese playmaker Yusa and E.Brown would be the men to mark for the Salgaocar’s defence, as the Mumbai team tries to capitalize on the hard earned draw in the last round.
Dempo Play Pune FC In Match Of The Round
Defending champions Dempo welcomes Pune FC to Nehru stadium in Fatorda for their round eleven fixture. The Panjim based club is comfortably placed at the summit of the table with eight wins. Dempo got the better of Prayag at home on last round and coach Colaco would be hoping that his lads pick up from where they left. The partnership between Rohan Ricketts and Ryuji has been one to watch out for this season. The midfield would be once again marshaled by Climax as he tries to clinch all three vital points at home and widen the gap at the top. A victory in this match would make it five wins in a row for the former champions, since their disheartening loss to ONGC.
The Red Lizards are currently placed at a comfortable fourth position in the league standings as they make a short trip to PJN Goa for their next round match on Saturday afternoon. Pune FC’s last league match got postponed against Air India. Derrick Pereira’s side has hit a purple patch in the last few rounds as the Pune side hasn’t dropped all three points in their last five games. The Pune side’s away record is something to ponder upon, as their last three wins in the league have been away from home. Khantang Paite came off the bench to score a clinical brace in the last round to stamp his authority in the starting lineup. James Moga would be the man to watch out for Antao and Naik at the back, as he has the uncanny knack of scoring against Dempo.
Mumbai FC Host United Sikkim
Khalid Jamil’s mentored Mumbai FC’s winning streak was halted in the last round derby match against Air India. The Mumbai based team has had a good start to the season, as compared to their previous attempts in the top flight football, and now the main aim would be hold on to the top half of the table as season commences. In the eleventh round, Mumbai FC welcomes United Sikkim to the Balewadi Sports Complex as they look to hit the winning note again. Veteran striker Yusif Yakubu would be hopping to get on the score sheet as he did in the last game.
Bhaichung’s united Sikkim make a long trip to Pune for this match as the team is slotted just above the relegation zone in the table. With just one solitary win in ten games, United Sikkim captain Anwar Ali would be tightening the screws at the back, as they look towards the upcoming crucial games. With four draws in a row, United Sikkim has failed to score at home in their last two fixtures. Away from home, United Sikkim has been scoring goals for fun, but they have been awful at the back so far. Against an in form Mumbai FC side, United Sikkim will have to put in a determined performance to entertain any thoughts of adding points to their tally.
Another Kolkata Derby As East-Bengal Clash With Prayag United
Trevor Morgan’s boys lock horns with local rivals Prayag United at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday. East Bengal find themselves placed at third position in the league table with one game in hand. East Bengal is the only club in the league to have not lost a match yet, and as the Kolkata giants prepare to face the tricky Prayag challenge, the players and coach would be hoping that that record stays intact. The battle lining up star striker Chidi Edeh against India international Gourmangi Singh and Chinta Rao would be the one to keep an eye on. The Red-&-Golds lost their first match of the season in the Calcutta Football League and would be hoping to bounce back. With a win here, East Bengal would stay hot on the heels of leaders Dempo and fellow chasers Churchill Brothers.
Prayag United lost out against a classy Dempo side in the last round, as the new team showed glimpses of not being in sync for long. Ranti Martins is obviously the key for the Purple Brigade as they prepare to launch a fight back. Prayag United have slipped to the fifth place in the table after a strong and authoritative start to the season. The Kolkata side are without a win in their last four games, which include three back to back losses. New Coach Eelco is already under pressure to perform and another bad result here could spell doom for the Dutch coach.
Air-India Host Shillong Lajong
The Pilots are in prime form at the moment with two consecutive wins behind their back. Air India showcased a gritty and purposeful game in the last round match against in form Mumbai FC to clinch all three points. The Mumbai side is now four points from the drop zone as they look to capitalize on their good form off-late. Round eleven witnesses Air India welcome Shillong Lajong to Balewadi Sports Complex on Sunday. Nigerian forward Elijah Junior, who assisted two goals, would be the man to keep an eye on. Henry Ezeh would be hoping to once again don scoring boots in this match and lift his side further up the table.
The Meghalaya side could swap positions with their opponents, if they register their first defeat in three games. Bulpin’s lads have not let in a goal in their last two encounters in the league and would be planning to do the same, but also focusing on hitting the back of the opponent net. Shillong side has managed to score only four goals in their last five games. Nigerian duo Sukore and Friday have been guilty of muffing some chances, and would be required to up the ante for this game. Bagging all three points here could see the Reds finish in the top half of the table.
High-Flying Churchill Brother Up Against Incosnsitent Sporting
The Red Machines moved up the table to the second spot, due to abandonment of the Kolkata derby and east Bengal not gaining any points in the last round. Captain Beto returned to the team after the suspension and scored a vital brace to hoard all three points for the Goans. Churchill brothers now host local rivals Sporting Club on Sunday at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda. Coach Dias would be hoping his team shells out a similar performance which keeps his team in race for the podium finish. Striker Henri would be our man to watch out for this tie, as he could prove lethal for a struggling Sporting side.
The Flaming Oranje is slotted at eleventh position in the league, as the management of the club went for a toss. Long serving Coach Ekendra Singh was shown the door and in came Spanish Oscar Bruzon to guide the wavering ship. Sporting hasn’t been able to clinch a victory in their last four games now and has been struggling to hit the back of the net. Last round witnessed a terrific fight back from the Goan side as they managed to clinch a single point coming back from two goals deficit. With high on confidence, Coach Oscar would be hoping that his side puts up a gritty show. Any points from this match would boost the side up the table. Nigerian striker Anoure Obiora would be our man to watch out from the boys wearing orange jersey’s.
Salgaocar FC 1-1 ONGC
Dempo 2-1 Pune FC
East Bengal 3-2 Prayag
Mumbai FC 1-1 United Sikkim
Air-India 1-2 Shillong Lajong
Churchill 3-0 Sporting