Indian Football’s premier competition I-League is getting into the thick of the action with each passing round. After break during International friendlies Indian Football fans will have the treat to watch Hisotric Kolkata derby and first ever Shillong derby in the I-League and the top four will clash with each other to solidify their position at the top.
Clash Of The Table Toppers
Salgaocar FC has by far has looked the most organized unit in the I-League. The Greens under Derrick Pereira have looked comfortable and the players have worked well in helping team to stay at the top of the table. The greens’ next opponent is Pune FC which will be a mouthwatering encounter as Pune FC is in second position in the table.
Derrick Pereira’s boys will have home advantage in this match and the home advantage could prove to be decisive in the outcome of the match. It is too early to predict the league champions but the way Salgaocar FC has shown composure they put a strong case. Midfield is working well and has experienced players like Francis Fernandes, Karma Tsewang and Rocus Lamare The youngster such as Clfton Dias and Gilbert Oliveira have blossomed under Derrick Pereira. Defence team is well marshaled by Nigerian centre back Chika Wali and the former Pune FC men will look to put a strong performance against his old club. Augustin Fernandes has realized his potential and has been excellent. The youngster has given some good performances and is knocking on the doors for the national team call up. One man who impressed everyone in last one year is attacking wing back Nicolau Colaco. The wing back was left out from the national team for the recent friendly against Nepal and Philippines due to a slight injury. He will look to continue his good work and put pressure on the Pune FC.
Darry Duffy has been scintillating for the Salgaocar FC. The Scottish striker has acclimatized to the condition and scoring goals for this club. He has been a nemesis for the rival defense with his quick movements.
On other hand Pune FC had an amazing start to the league but lately they have been found wanting. The defeat against Sporting Clube de Goa has exposed the vulnerability of Pune FC at the back. Englishmen Calum Angus has been a key figure in Pune FC. The defender not only kept the shape of his defenders but also helped them in attacks. Anas Edathodika has been a consistent performer for his club and he will be keen to continue his performance. The Pune FC midfield will have to come good if they want to entertain any hope to defeat Salgaocar FC. Ivory Cost attacking midfielder Douhou Pierre has been in amazing form for the club. He has created numerous chances in last few matches. Arata Azumi has been going through a lean patch, the Japanese born Indian International need to regain his form in this crunch match.
Pune FC youngster Nikhil Kadam has been excellent for the club. The fast and skilful winger has created lots of problems for Rivals. He will be the man to watch out against Salgaocar FC. Even though Pune FC has been strong at the back and played some delightful football they have found wanting in the striking department. The strikers need to find the back of the net more often. They have scored just 8 goal in 7 matches and for the top half team it is a thing to worry. Mustapha Riga is one of the high profile players in the league and he has come with a great reputation. He has to come good and start scoring for the club.
The stage is set for the top two teams and winner will solidify its position at the top of the table.
First Shillong Derby In The I-League.
Shillong is known for its love and passion for the game. They crowd always supported Shillong Lajong which became first North Eastern team to get promoted in the top tier of the Indian football. They always turned out in numbers to support Shillong Lajong but now the loyalty of the locals will be split. Rangdajiad United FC which become the second Shillong club to get promoted in I-League will be up against Shillong Lajong. It will be first ever Shillong Derby in I-League, the stadium will be colored in blue and red and it will be interesting to see which club gets the maximum support.
Shillong Lajong will be home team in this contest and by far look stronger than Rangdajied United. Shillong have started well in this year I-League with some upsets in the league. Shillong Lajong will be heavily depended on Strike force of Glen Cornell and Ulliams. The strikers have been in amazing form for the club. The Trinidad International Glen Cornell has impressed everyone with his finishing ability and he will be an instrumental figure in the derby. Brazilian striker Ulliams has shown great work rate and has been rewarded with a few goals. Derby always are intense and strong defence always give an edge over opponents.The Lajong defense used to leak goals in the past but since the arrival of Minchol Son the defense has been solidified.
Rangdajied United FC have been under pressure in the league. The new boys of the league have failed to secure a single win. They have found life of I-League very difficult. Santosh Kashyap is known for bringing the best out of the average players but at Rangdajied United FC it has been much more difficult for him. The team lacks experience and youngsters in the team are finding life difficult as I-League. The team has to perform really well to get anything out of the derby.
Return Of IMG-R Players In The I-League.
Earlier at the start of the I-League clubs under banner of IPFCA had decided not to sign IMG-R contracted players. The players were in deep crisis after the much awaited league was postponed. After IPFCA decided to sign Pailan Arrows players there was some relief for the youngsters in the Arrows. The recent development in I-League does not give a good picture of IPFCA. First struggling, Mohammadan sporting broke away from IPFCA and signed IMG-R players such Ishfaq Ahmad and Luis Barreto. Now the bottom rank team Rangdajied United have signed IMR-R players such Subrata Paul, Gouramangi Singh. The addition of the experience Indian International players will certainly lift level of the game of Randgjaid United. The returns of these players will also give national team coach some relief and even players will be excited to play in I-League again.
Bengaluru FC Return Home
Bengaluru FC got a reality check in I-League when they they played away from the home first time. In three away matches they just won 1 point. Now Bengaluru FC are back in their comfort zone and will play against Sporting Clube de Goa. Both teams will be eyeing a win to move into the top two.
Bengaluru FC has found it difficult in away games in the league. The inexperience in the side has been exposed. It will be interesting to see how the club bounces back. Sunil Chettri will be high on confidence after scoring a goal in piece in both the friendly matches. The midfield in the team is inexperienced and crumbles under pressure. The defensive pair of Curtis Osano and John Johnson has to take responsibility to steady the ship at the back.
On other hand Sporting Club de Goa are high on confidence after clinching the Goa Pro League for the first time in their history. The team has been together from last year and the young side has shown lots of promise in the league. Their crisp passing and compact football have put a lot of clubs in pressure. Oscar Bruzon is very intelligent coach and the Spaniard has changed this young side into a force to reckon with. The team has played as a unit and are considered as dark horses in the league. If they able to beat Bengaluru FC in away match then they will be making their case strong to win the league.
World Famous Rivalry – The Kolkata Derby
The marquee fixture in the I-League the Kolkata derby is all set to dazzle the nation. It is one of the most historic and famous derby in the world. The derby is one of the most intense matches of the season and arch rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan always play their heart out in the match. The significance of derby has increased since both the teams are struggling in the league and the winner could get a huge confidence in future matches.
East Bengal will be under their new coach Armando Colaco. Former Dempo SC man will be having a new experience of playing under intense pressure of the derby. He has won many trophies at Dempo but winning this derby will be even more satisfying. He will be having a lot of experience players at his disposal to win the match. East Bengal have struggled at the start of the season under Marcus Falopa and are languishing in the bottom half of the table. A win would certainly get them going in the league. The worrying point is their foreign players and if they come good then they will have no problem winning the match.
Mohun Bagan on the other hand will welcome their talismanic striker Odafa Okalie. Mohun Bagan has a very young side and a lot of talent in the team. It will be interesting to see how these young bunch of boys plays in the intense environment of dthe erby. They have to support the impressive Japanese playmaker Katsumi Yusa. The Japanese had been amazing in the middle of the park. Morrocan Coach Karim Benchrifa is known for bringing the best of out of the young players and it will be a test of his young side against experienced East Bengal side. This derby will be clearly between the experience of East Bengal and exuberance of Mohun Bagan youth.
I-League Round-10 fixtures
Salgaocar FC V Pune FC, November 22, 3.30 PM
Shillong Lajong V Randgdajiad United, November 22, 6.00 PM
Bengaluru FC V Sporting Clube de Goa, November 23, 3.00 PM
Mohammedan Sporting V Churchill Brothers , November 23, 3.30 PM
Dempo SC V United SC, November 23, 4.00 PM
Mcdowell Mohun Bagan V Kingfisher East Bengal, November 24, 5.00 PM