Indian Football‘s premier competition I-League is getting into thick of the action in Round 5. AFC Cup heroes East Bengal are preparing for their biggest test yet and a match against I-League powerhouses Dempo SC promises to be the right preparation for Marcos Falopa’s side. I-League pace setters Bengaluru FC are taking a break from action and it presents a golden opportunity for Salgaocar SC, Pune FC and United SC to aim for the top spot in the table.
Can East Bengal add insult to injury in Dempo’s woes?
Kolkata powerhouses East Bengal are set to play their first home match of the new I-League season against Goan giants Dempo SC in Kalyani stadium. The AFC Cup semifinalists are in fine form at the moment and will be looking forward to get maximum points from favorable conditions. East Bengal started emphatically in I-League with a 4 goal win over Shillong Lajong FC even after resting some of their top players. Red and Gold Army are expected to rotate the squad for this fixture as well due to other commitments. With 5 days to go for the crucial second leg of AFC Cup Semi Finals against Kuwait SC, East Bengal will be looking for a comprehensive performance to set things on track. The strike duo of Edeh Chidi and James Moga has started to pump in goals and East Bengal faithful will be looking forward to an entertaining match at the Kalyani Stadium.
The return of Arthur Papas to Dempo dugout will be a huge morale booster for the former I-League champions. Dempo SC are win less in the opening four rounds and have recorded 3 consecutive draws after the reverse in opening day. They had an impressive outing against Salgaocar SC in last round to grab a point out of nothing and will be looking forward to build some momentum from that. Young striker Jeje Lalpekhula has been in excellent form in last two matches and he will be a thorn in East Bengal’s defence. On the other hand, Dempo’s star striker Billy Mehmet is struggling to cope up with the demands of Indian Football. Central defenders Simon Colosimo and Shinnosuke Honda also needs to plug out the holes in defending if they Goans are hoping to upset the hosts at their own den.
Can the unbeaten sides maintain their record?
In a game between two of the early pace setters in I-League, Mumbai FC is taking on Salgaocar SC in a battle to maintain their unbeaten records intact. Other unbeaten sides Pune FC, United SC are also in action this week, while leaders Bengaluru FC are taking a deserved break from action. Khalid Jamil’s Mumbai FC had a good start to the season and are proving that they do know how to play football when everyone tries to bill them as negative football agents. All their 3 home matches have resulted in draws this season, and they will not be disappointed if the outcome remains the same against Salgaocar SC. Mumbai FC is inspired by the impressive defending of Anwar Ali and co. while Sandjar Ahmadi has brought them attacking firepower on the other end of the pitch. Salgaocar on the other hand, are riding high due to the brilliance of Darryl Duffy and Sergey Gnakpa in opposition territory. Goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhary and his defence has been in stellar form as well and this match promises to be a thrilling encounter.
Can Shillong Lajong break their duck at home?
North East football fans were thrilled when Shillong Lajong FC roped in a player of Cornell Glen’s quality. Last season they had Portuguese sensation Edinho on loan and they believed that Cornell Glen’s addition is the right step towards progress. They started this season with the biggest surprise by flooring former I-League champions Dempo SC at their own den after scoring 3 goals past them. After their impressive start in new edition, they stopped Pune FC to a goalless draw in their first home match. The expectations were raised, but Shillong failed to deliver. They suffered continuous defeats at the hands of Sporting Club de Goa and East Bengal. After 3 home matches, Shillong based side is yet to score a goal infront of their enthusiastic supporters. Football lovers in hilly areas are waiting for that moment, can they deliver the goods against a cash strapped United SC? Or is it going to be another day where the visitors will have the final laugh? The likes of Ranti Martins, Eric Brown, Vineeth CK and Asif K are capable of making that happen.
Can Churchill Brothers Survive Pune FC onslaught?
I-League round 4 produced an entertaining match at Balewadi Sports Complex between Pune FC and Mohun Bagan. The end-to-end match was a true entertainer for the Indian Football lovers and the expectations will be same whenever Pune FC takes the pitch at their own yard. The intensity and momentum with which Pune FC plays their game under Mike Snoei is a treat to watch and in this round I-League champions Churchill Brothers will be up against the tide. The Goan side on the other hand, have secured just 2 points in 4 matches and are in deep trouble at the moment. Sukhwinder Singh has bid adieu to the team and things aren’t looking good for the defending champions. However, the return of Subhash Bhowmik, the man who memorably led them to I-League triumph last season, can boost Churchill’s season. Pune FC’s defence looked solid with the like of Anas Edathodika and Calum Agnus looking unbeatable on occasions. With a chance to go to the top of the table, Pune FC will be inspired to take the game to the opposition, Can Churchill Brothers survive this litmus test?
Can home comforts inspire Mohun Bagan to their first win of the season?
Mohun Bagan, one of the giants in Indian Football are yet to register a victory under their name in the new I-League campaign. After three games into the season, they have recorded only one goal so far and are suffering due to the absence of mercurial talisman Odafa Okolie. In his absence, Mohun Bagan’s strike force aren’t looking capable of delivering the goods. New recruit Eric Muranda has forgot his scoring boots somewhere else, CS Sabeeth is limited to more defensive role in the new set up while youngster Ram Mullick’s inconsistent displays are frustrating. Can the skipper return on time to instill some fresh energy into Mohun Bagan strike force? They will be without the suspended Echezona for the tie against Sporting Club de Goa at Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata. The stadium is an intimidating place for the opposition with thousands of supporters cheering the home team.
I-League Round-5 fixtures
East Bengal FC V Dempo SC, October 17, 2.30 PM
Mumbai FC V Salgaocar SC, October 18, 4.00 PM
Shillong Lajong FC V United SC, October 19, 3.30 PM
Mohun Bagan AC V Sporting Club De Goa, October 19, 5.00 PM
Pune FC V Churchill Brothers SC, October 19, 7.00 PM
Rangdajied United FC V Mohemmadan SC, October 20, 3.30 PM