I-League 2013/14 has thrown up a plethora of surprises. The top teams of the country are struggling while lesser known teams are enjoying the season and round 15 is expected to be no difference. League leaders Bengaluru FC look to maintain their winning streak while Churchill Brothers are hoping for a turnaround.
Sporting Clube De Goa Look To Maintain Pressure On Bengaluru FC
Sporting Clube de Goa and Shillong Lajong both have been a surprise package this season. Both the teams have improved leaps and bounds and have played some delightful football. Sporting Clube de Goa has been praised by many for their flawless passing football and delightful cohesive display. The club has certainly enjoyed playing at Duler Stadium, Mapusa. They have fully utilized the home advantage and have a health record in Duler stadium. Many stalwarts have failed to breach the fortress of Duler stadium and Shillong Lajong will be finding it very difficult to beat Sporting at Duler stadium. Sporting Clube de Goa Coach Oscar Bruzon knows the importance of winning home games and keeping the pressure on league leaders Bangalure FC. Flaming Orange will be keen to win their next two matches before the league goes on a 2 month long break. There is no one person to pin point in the team as all the players have played according to plan. The foreign players have taken responsibility to guide the younger players in the club and this has shown in their performance.
Shillong Lajong has made 2 in 2 in Goa after beating Dempo and Churchill Brothers. Beating Sporting in Duler will be difficult for the club but they are high on confidence with their performances in Goa. They have lost against Sporting in Shillong and this match will be a revenge match for the North Eastern side. Glen Cornell has among the goals and the defence has stood tall. It will be an interesting battle between two of the most enterprising teams in the league of this season.
Pune FC Will Look To Bounce Back
Pune FC’ s form has dipped in the last few matches in the I-League. The Red Lizards are not at their best and have struggled to score the goals. They are winless in last 7 matches in the league and the title is drifting away from them. They started the league with the bang but lack of finishing in final third has deprived them some valuable points. Their defence was also found wanting, they have conceded goals in all of their last 7 games. Mike Snoie is under pressure to deliver and live up to the expectation of the fans. The new signing Riga is under a bit of pressure to deliver as he has missed easy goal scoring opportunities in last few matches. The Red Lizards have to step up the gas as more slip up would be very costly for the team.
United SC on the other hand are finding difficult to perform in the league. Injuries to key players and off field distraction have resulted in a drop in performance. United SC don’t have enough bench strength to sustain the same level of performance week and week out in I-League. Ranti Martins have not been at his best in the league this season and the Nigerian goal poacher has been struggling with the purple brigade. He will be having a crucial role to play in the match against Pune FC.
Churchill Brothers Need A Turn Around
The case of the Churchill Brothers case will be more curious than Benjamin Button for the I-League followers. The Champions of the last season are now fighting at the bottom of the table to save the drop. There are many reasons for this but one of the prime reasons is instability within the club. The hire and fire policy has not worked wonders for the Varca club this season and they have found life difficult in growing professionalism in the league. They have changed all their four overseas players and hoping to see some turnaround in the next few matches. The defences have been Achilles heels of the club; they have conceded goals rather easily. The new foreign recruits have to come good if they want to save the club from the relegation. It will be difficult but they have to be positive and give their best in every game.
They will play against Mohammedan Sporting who are having their own problems. The Black Panthers have been struggling to score the goals. They have scored just 2 goals in last 4 matches and both of them came in the last match. Coach Bola Masood is really frustrated with lack of goals and pressure is high on him. They will be having good opportunities against Churchill Brothers to get their confidence back. It is very important match for both the teams. A win for either team could set the tone for the rest of the season.
Clash Of Later Bloomers
Rangdajiad United and Mumbai FC were among the favourites to go down easily. The first few matches even started to prove that they will be an easy nut to crack. But the inclusion of IMG-R players has changed the complexion of the teams. The teams now completely look different unit all together. They have defeated some of the big guns in the I-League. Mumbai FC since the inclusion of IMG-R player has defeated East Bengal, Pune FC and drew a match with Mohun Bagan while Rangdajiad United has given a good account of them against East Bengal and defeated Pune FC. Both the teams will be high on confidence and it will be an interesting match. Rangdajiad will have home advantage and will look to register one more win at the home.
Can Bengaluru FC Continue Their Winning Streak?
The new entrants of the I-League Bengaluru FC are certainly on the role. The club has won 4 matches on the go now and enjoying healthy 6 points lead at the top. They have been the most consistent side of the league so far. Under Englishman Ashly Westwood they have been simply amazing. The club so far has been unbeaten at the home and will now host East Bengal. This will certainly be acid test for Steelman. Sunil Chettri is on a bit of the roll scoring brace in last two matches. He would know that he would have to give more to repeat the same performance against a quality side like East Bengal. The defensive pair of Jhon Jhonson and Curtis Osano has to be at their best to stop East Bengal from scoring. East Bengal is used to playing in front of the huge crowd. East Bengal has one of the best Indian contingents but somehow they have not fired this season. A win against Bengaluru FC could bring back them back on the track. It is the Marquee encounter of the round and fans will be expected that match live up to the expectations.
Mohun Bagan AC V Dempo SC, December 14, 1.45 PM
Sporting Clube de Goa V Shillong Lajong December 14, 3.30 PM
United SC V Pune FC December 15, 2.30 PM
Bengaluru FC V East Bengal FC, December 15, 3.00 PM
Churchill Brothers V Mohammedan Sporting, December 15, 3.30 PM
Rangdajiad United FC v Mumbai FC, December 15, 3.30 PM