For a player who has played for Scottish Giants Rangers FC or now Premier League side Hull City, it will be a gamble to move to a country like India. Indian Football cannot be compared to that of British football. I-League is nowhere near to Scottish Premier League or even the second tier of English Football Championship. But Scottish striker Darryl Duffy took the gamble to enjoy Indian summers this time. Former I-League champions Salgaocar SC was the Scotsman’s destination.
It’s a huge risk for a 29-year old striker, but he opted for the challenges ahead. Darryl Duffy is not a player who was taking his last chance before retirement, if it goes wrong it might have been the end of story for him. Subcontinental conditions are no way near to that of Europe, and acclimatizing itself could have been a nightmare for many. The beautiful Goan beaches might have been an attraction, but he was here to play football and there were many predecessors from different parts of the world who found it tough to get going in the hot and humid Indian conditions.
The cultural difference and the different languages used here might have been another barrier. But as some say, football has no barriers and it is the language which Darryl Duffy speaks and now the Indian Football lovers understands.
Darryl Duffy has overcame these tough challenges, and after the initial settling period he finds himself on top of the Goal charts now. Coincidently Salgaocar SC is at the summit of I-League table after the end of round-8. It’s not really a surprise that Salgaocar finds themselves at the top, but many would have fancied the likes of Ranti Martins and co. to lead the scoring charts once again. Even though the likes of Sean Rooney and Josimar had caught up with him at 6 goals, Darryl Duffy stands out from the rest of the pack due to his performance till date.
Darryl Duffy has eased himself into Indian Football by scoring 6 goals in as many matches. His partnership with Claude Gnakpa in Salgaocar’s 4-4-2 formation has been a treat to watch for Salgaocar and Indian Football fans. The duo has complimented each other in the final third and have produced the goods for the Derrick Periera coached side whenever needed. Duffy even flourished in the 4-2-3-1 formation tried out by Salgaocar in the last match as a testament to his abilities in different formations.
FPAI Coach of the Year Derrick Pereira had moved to Salgaocar SC at the start of the season and it would have been a tricky affair for the Goan giants. But Salgaocar eased their way into the top of the table, and it was Darryl Duffy who played the most important role in this meteoric rise. His move was overshadowed by the arrival of Billy Mehmet at Dempo. But the Irish striker is still searching for his goalscoring boots whereas the Scotsman is raking up goals for fun.
Salgaocar’s wingplay has also contributed big in his success. The likes of Francis Fernandez, Gilberto Oliviera and Karma Tsewang has taken turns to torment opposition teams with their pace and trickery. This has got a different dimension, when the clinical Darryl Duffy made the best use of the teams wing play. If Darryl Duffy wasn’t among goals, not many would have noticed the success of Francis and Gilberto in particular. To be at the right place at the right time is not a simple task and Darryl Duffy has done it time and again with Salgaocar so far this season.
Sharing the top scorer post in I-League with Darryl Duffy is Bengaluru FC striker Sean Rooney. Rooney arrived in Indian Football last season via Salgaocar, but he couldn’t get his foot right at Goa and it took one season for him to make his mark in I-League. When you compare that with Duffy’s achievement, it shows how easily he has adapted to the Indian conditions and have delivered the goods.
Darryl Duffy might have had lot of off the field troubles in India, including the bus rides, humidity etc. but none of them seems to be affecting his performances on the field. On the pitch he is slowly becoming the best striker in I-League. He is playing with a different class and authority in-front of goal. Even though he doesn’t likes to drop deep, he is doing a good job for the team in every sense.
Coach Derrick Periera describes Darryl Duffy as the best striker in Indian Football. At the start of the season he was the only one scoring goals for Salgaocar, now his team mates are also stepping up. In the game against East Begnal, Salgaocar had 3 different scorers on board and Duffy wasn’t one. Even without scoring Duffy is playing a vital role in team’s victory. With others stepping up Duffy’s burden is reduced somewhat, but we can say that he has raised the bars of expectation. If this is trailer then then the movie will be worth watching in the coming days!
Mohun Bagan came away with a point from an away game against Dempo SC. It was Shilton Paul’s brilliance under the bars which lead to a goalless affair. Question marks needs to be raised at the mariners attack as Eric Muranda once again failed to mark his authority in Odafa’s absence. On the other hand, Jeje Lalpekhula wasn’t involved in the spectacle and his sharpness was missing in Dempo’s attacks. No wonder the match ended goal less.
Vineeth CK inspired United SC, produced an outstanding performance to snatch the victory from the clutches of defeat against Churchill Brothers. Churchill Brothers were leading by 2 goals till the hour mark and then Vineeth CK and Ranti Martins combined well to score 3 goals to secure their first win in 6 matches. The 5 goal thriller also saw the return to form of last season’s I-League top scorer Ranti Martins.
Bengaluru FC once again dropped points in an away game, this time the opposition was Sandjar Ahmadi inspired Mumbai FC. Bengaluru were not hold on to their slender lead and a man advantage against the Mumbaikars as the match ended 2-2. Bengaluru FC’s wastefulness in-front of goal was another highlight of the match. Among the two Indian Strikers Robin Singh is even finding it hard to earn some playing time and his international future doesn’t look bright at the moment. After filling their foreign quota with Afghanistan players, Mumbai FC are quietly settling into a good rhythm on the other hand.
Pune FC suffered its first defeat of the season at the hand of Sporting Club de Goa in another match. This defeat puts Pune FC 3 points behind league leaders Salgaocar SC. Sporting has brought a surprising factor into I-League now with victories over Mohun Bagan and Pune FC. Sporting’s two goal win against one of the I-League pace setters were based on a strong defense lead by Mathew Gonsalves and co. while Pratesh Shirodkar was in sparkling form in midfield.
Finally Shillong Lajong’s miserable home fortunes changed as they registered their first win on the home soil against Kolkata side Mohammedan Sporting. Shillong Lajong had failed to get going so far in-front of their fans and this 3 points and performance will be a huge relief for the football faithful in the north east. Uilliams D’Silva continued his good form to register two more goals under his belt. This 2-1 win will give them a new found confidence and belief ahead of the remaining fixtures, which comes faster and thicker before the break.