Six Rounds into the I-League, Newly promoted Mohammedan Sporting of Kolkata are struggling at the lower half of the table with just one win under their belt. The club performed well in the I-League second division to book their place in Top flight after a very long time. The players in the club are not very fluent with their football and the club is not producing desired result due to lack of cohesiveness on the field. Their new Nigerian Coach Abdul Aziz Mashood is yet to find his playing eleven.
A Major reason of the club struggling at bottom half is a lack of quality in the final third. The striking duo of Australian Tolgay Ozbey and Brazilian Josimar is not combining well. The strikers have found wanting on many occasions when they could have scored. Tolgay Ozbey was amazing when he entered in India. While playing for Kingfisher East Bengal the Australian scored lots of goals. After that he moved to Mohun Bagan, since then the striker has failed to replicate his performance in earlier years. The striker has not come good for Black Panthers and has found wanting with his fitness. The work rate of Australian is not up to the mark. Mohammedan Sporting fans would like to see much more commitment from Tolgay. The Australian has buckled up himself and would like to improve his form. Brazilian Striker Josimar is not a new face in Indian football. Physically strong Brazilian has spent a lot of time in India playing for various clubs. He is well aware about the condition and was considered to be a good buy by the Mohammedan Sporting. But Striker just like his partner Tolgay Ozbey have failed to deliver. The Brazilian has been found wanting against quality defenders and lack of cohesiveness with his fellow striker. The Brazilian has to use all his experience playing in India now and turn around the things for him as well as for his team.
While Foreign striker are not firing, the Indian strikers in the team do not have enough experience of playing in I-League. Ajay Singh was a promising prospect when he emerged on scene few years back. He was expected to be a good striker but since his move to Churchill Brothers he has been absent on the big stage. Lack of playing time at a club like Churchill brothers resulted in the loss of sharpness of the striker. The striker did show promise in the Durand Cup and Mohammedan fans will be hoping that he can replicate that form in I-League as well . Charan Rai and Budhiram Tudu other strikers in the team have not even featured in a club in matches they have played so far.
Nigerian Playmaker Penn Orji is one of the important of the club. Former East Bengal man unexpectedly signed for Mohammedan Sporting. The Nigerian is known for his speed and creativity. He has done wonders while playing for East Bengal. His combo with Tolgay Ozbey at East Bengal was amazing and Mohammedan Sporting fans were expecting same performance. Penn Orji so far have worked tirelessly but his strikers had let him down. The industrious midfilder will hope that his strikers will not waste chances he create in future games.
Israel Gurung and Khemtag Paite are two workhorses who have shown promise so far for the Black Panthers in the attacks. The wingers are in good form and have done very well in the flanks. They have moved up and down tirelessly. The winger should look to move in a box much often and help the strikers. The goals are not coming and numbers in final third will make some difference.
Lack of quality and experienced Indian players is weakness of the club. The club does not have an experience Indian player who could provide support to foreigners. The club is over relying on foreign players in the team. The absence of Brazilian defender Luciano Sabrosa who moved from Salgaocar FC in early few matches put club under immense pressure at the back. The defender made a huge difference when he resumed playing against United Sports Club. The backline without Sabrosa looks fragile. Presence of Sabrosa makes defence look strong and his presence was of the reason Mohammedan victory over Rangdajied United which was their first and only win so far.
Earlier in the season clubs under IPFCA had decided not to loan or sign IMG-R contracted players. But many clubs now have broken out and signed IMG-R contracted players. Mohammedan Sporting is one the club who has signed IMG-R Players. The players on loan are Luis Barreto who was first choice goalkeeper last season at Mumbai FC, Manish Mathani, Ishfaq Ahmad, Mehrajuddin Wadoo and the biggest among all India International superstar Syed Rahim Nabi. All these five players were regularly in their respective clubs last season and will make the team very strong. Ishfaq Ahmad and Mehrajuddin Waddo are experienced in the midfield and their inclusion in the squad definitely will add some sharpness in midfield. Syed Rahim Nabi is one player which can single handedly change the course of the match. The versatile player is an asset to any team and inclusion of him in the team will not just raise the level of play but also give confidence to rest of players in the team.
Dempo Sports Club after an impressive win over East Bengal were expected to continue their form. They were up against new boys in the league Bengaluru Football Club. The Bengaluru based side not only defeated Dempo but humiliated them by beating them 3-1. The star studded side of Dempo was grounded. Youngster Siam Hangal opened the scoring with scorcher from outside the box. Sean Rooney continued his good form by scoring brace in the drubbing. Clifford Miranda got a consolation goal for Golden Eagles. Bengaluru Football Club after this win have consolidated their position at the top and have remained unbeaten in the league so far.
Mohun Bagan recorded their first win the league against title contenders Salgaocar FC. Playing away from home Salgaocar were expected to get full three points against struggling Mohun Bagan. Goals from CS Sabeeth and Japanese attacking midfielder Katusumi Yusa helped the Mariners to earn their first win. Late goal from a spot kick through Darryl Duffy gave some hope but some sturdy defending from Mohun Bagan did not let Salgaocar take away any point from the match.
Trinidad International Cornell Glen’ s brilliance helped Shillong Lajong to register a win over Mumbai FC. Shillong started the match brightly with Japanese Taisuke Matsugane opened the scoring in the 6th minute. Mumbai FC equalized through Sandjar Ahmadi in the 16th minute. After the lemon break Glen Cornell showed his class with two amazing piece of brilliance. His second half brace was enough to give Shillong Lajong a win. Mumbai Ritesh Perambra scored his first goal in the 90th minute but that was not enough to avoid the defeat. The match will be known for controversy more than the 5 good goals. Haroon Amiri was shown a red card for slapping Shillong Lajong captain Michael Son during the match.
Sporting Clube de Goa continued their impressive run. Oscar bruzon side comfortably beat Randgjaied United 3-0. The flaming orange never looked under any pressure throughout the match. Ogba Kalu, Deepak Devrani and Boima Karpeh scored for the Sporting. It could have been worse for Shillong side if Sporting had not missed some clear chances in second half.
Mohammedan Sporting and United Sports Club shared points in Yuba Bharti Krinagn. Mohammedan Sporting had put the ball in the nets once but Referee disallowed the goal. Mohammedan Sporting had numerical advantage in the last 20 minutes of the game when Bello Razaq of United Sports club got marching orders in second half but Mohammedan Sporting to fail to capitalize.