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What would ISL clubs wish for during international break? – football news

The fifth season of the Indian Super League (ISL) has entered its first international break. 

After nine matches, five teams are on four points each at the top of the table, with FC Goa leading the pack due to a higher tally of goals scored. All teams except Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City have played two matches. Chennaiyin and ATK are the only teams yet open their account. 

The ISL will return on October 17 but until then, it is a period for the players and coaches who are not involved with their national teams to take a breather and analyze the key areas for improvement. Let’s take a look at what the 10 ISL clubs will wish for when the league resumes after the break:


ATK – Team Chemistry


ATK NorthEast United ISL

Under Steve Coppell, ATK have looked lethargic and disorganized. After roping in proven campaigners like John Johnson, Gerson, Manuel Lanzarote and Kalu Uche, a revamped ATK has struggled to fit everyone into the team and get going. 

The English coach admittedly had little say in the player recruitment and with his defence-first approach, the attack-minded players look out of place in the team. 


Bengaluru FC – A fully fit Dimas Delgado


Ever since the season started for Bengaluru FC with the AFC Cup fixtures against Altyn Asyr, Dimas Delgado’s absence has been felt. The Spanish midfielder was instrumental in pulling the strings and exerting dominance in the middle of the pitch under Albert Roca last season. 

Dimas Delgado Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru’s style of play badly needs a midfield controller like Delgado. He returned to the pitch in the second-half against Jamshedpur after a long-term injury layoff. But Cuadrat and co. will be hoping to see a fully fit Dimas Delgado raring to go when the league resumes. In his absence, Bengaluru FC never really controlled the games, especially the two opening ISL matches at home. 


Chennaiyin FC – Goals and a better midfield


Anirudh Thapa FC Goa Chennaiyin FC ISL

A strong midfield was a vital component of Chennaiyin’s success last season. The likes of Dhanpal Ganesh, Bikramjit Singh, Anirudh Thapa and Germanpreet Singh did a phenomenal job as the team journeyed to the title but their campaign has begun on a sour note. They are yet to earn a point after two defeats in the first two games and the midfield has been awful to say the least.

With Dhanpal out injured for the first half of the season, both Anirudh Thapa and Germanpreet Singh will be expected to step up in the centre of the park after back-to-back dire displays. Adding insult to injury, Jeje Lalpekhlua looked isolated and without service to get going in front of the goal. 


Delhi Dynamos – A cure for profligacy


Delhi Dynamos vs Pune City ISL 2018/19

The Lions have played just one game (1-1 vs Pune City) but there are no excuses for dropping two points despite creating plenty of chances to put the game to bed. A late equaliser allowed FC Pune City to earn a point that did not look possible for most of the game. 

The Dynamos cannot afford to waste chances. Their only goal in the game came from a speculative long-range effort by Rana Gharami that swung in the air and landed in the net to turn out to be an absolute belter. 


FC Goa – Clean Sheets


Sergio Lobera’s side kept just two clean sheets in 20 matches last season. While their strategy has been to outscore the opposition, defending is an important part of any team’s chase for the title. The Gaurs allowed NorthEast United to come back and equalise after having taking the lead twice. They also allowed Eli Sabia to score a late header in their 3-1 win over Chennaiyin FC.

Ralte Kattimani FC Goa

Lobera chose to start both their games with 18-year-old Mohammad Nawaz who had his moments under the bar but is still some way off from being a convincing presence under the bar. FC Goa have stuck to their attacking football under Lobera but a strong defence could be the difference between a semi-final exit and a title win.


FC Pune City – Return of Marcelinho and midfield dynamics


Marcelinho NorthEast United FC FC Pune City ISL 4 2017/2018

FC Pune City’s talisman Marcelinho was suspended for their season opener against Delhi Dynamos for the red card he picked up in their Super Cup exit against Shillong Lajong. Pune City struggled to get on the front foot for the majority of the game and lacked a focal point in attack. The Brazilian’s return to the starting lineup will be a big boost to the team and will provide much-needed flair in attack. 

Jonathan Vila, Marko Stankovic and Adil Khan have failed to boss the midfield so far and a better dynamics amongst the trio will be expected after the break. 
 


Jamshedpur FC – Better support for Tiri


Jamshedpur FC skipper Tiri has been a one-man-army at the back for Cesar Ferrando’s side in the first two games. Against Bengaluru FC, the Spanish defender put in vital blocks and last-ditch tackles to keep the Men of Steel in the game. Raju Gaikwad, in particular, has been sub-par. 

Fellow defenders in the side to step up their game to support the skipper. Defending requires teamwork and coordination which Cesar Ferrando will demand from his side once the league season resumes. 

 


Kerala Blasters – Improvement at home


The last time Kerala Blasters reached the finals, they had won six and lost just one match in Kochi. Last season, Blasters recorded a poor home run (a mere two wins in nine games) and endured a frustrating campaign. 

Kochi U17 World Cup

And after a 2-0 win against ATK in the season opener, Blasters fell to a last-minute stunner by Mumbai City’s Pranjal Bhumij and dropped two points at home. Kerala Blasters have recently struggled to win matches in front of their home crowd. For a team vying for the title, this is unacceptable and needs to change.  


Mumbai City – Foreign players to step up 


Mumbai City Jamshedpur FC ISL

The foreign contingent of Mumbai City are yet to make an impact in ISL after the first two rounds. The likes of Rafael Bastos and Moudou Sougou have completely gone off the radar despite playing both their first two matches. Matias Mirabaje and Paulo Machado are yet to exert any influence in the Islanders’ proceedings on the pitch. 

Given their strength on paper, Jorge Costa will demand improvement from these players after the break.


NorthEast United – Better output from wide players


ATK NorthEast United ISL

The Highlanders will wish for a better output from wide areas so as to unlock the goalscorer in Bartholomew Ogbeche. The former PSG man has struggled for service from both the centre and wide areas of the field but the immediate concern will be the displays of wingers Redeem Tlang and Nikhil Kadam. 

They will also need better support from their full-backs, namely Keegan Pereira, Robert Lalthlamuana and Reagan Singh. Much will be expected from them if the Highlanders are to deliver upon the early promise offered. 

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ISL 2018-19: Is Jamshedpur FC’s Gourav Mukhi 16-years-old? – football news

Jamshedpur FC’s ‘teenage sensation’ Gourav Mukhi has been grabbing all the headlines after he scored against Bengaluru FC at the Kanteerava Stadium within minutes of coming on from the bench. 

The Indian Super League (ISL) website even proclaimed him to be the youngest ever goalscorer and also awarded him the emerging player of the match. But is the player from Dhatkidih Harijan Bustee, really 16-years-old?

Mukhi Screenshot

Back in 2015, Jharkhand won the Sub-Junior National Football Championship title by defeating Goa 8-3 in the finals . But subsequently, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) stripped Jharkhand of the honours  and also imposed a fine of Rs. One Lakh after it was revealed that up to five of the victorious team’s players were overage. 

Gourav Mukhi was one of the five players who confessed that they were overage after the AIFF called them up for a national team camp.

Mukhi has been in fine fettle throughout this season as he banged in six goals in 10 appearances in I-League second division for Jamshedpur FC Reserves. Along with Mobashir Rahman and Vishal Das he was one of the three players to be promoted from the Reserves before this edition of ISL.

Head coach Cesar Ferrando handed him some valuable playing time during their pre-season in Spain as well. He did not disappoint his coach, scoring two goals against Mostoles Balompie in Madrid. 

Although ISL is a senior level professional tournament and Mukhi deserves all the credit for his brilliant performance against Bengaluru but conferring the title of the ‘youngest ever goalscorer in ISL’ might need some more fact-checking. 

The match commentator of Star Sports even went on to the extent of claiming that Mukhi was only 11-years-old when the ISL started in 2014, which clearly isn’t the case. 

The youngest player to make an appearance in the ISL continues to be ATK’s Komal Thatal and the youngest goalscorer is Chennaiyin FC’s Jerry Lalrinzuala. 

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ISL 2018-19: Chennaiyin FC’s John Gregory – The goal was offside by couple of metres – football news

Defending Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin kicked off their season on a disappointing note as they went down 0-1 against South Indian rivals Bengaluru FC.

Miku’s first half strike was enough to seal a crucial win for the Blues against the reigning champions.

Speaking on what went wrong for his side, John Gregory opined. “To be honest, we gave the ball away for the goal, which obviously I got upset about. We were a little bit sloppy in that respect. The last person you want the ball to go to is Miku. He didn’t try to be clever and smashed it in. That’s the only thing that separated us from them.

“But then I felt we should have been ahead by then. When you come to places like this you always have to try and contain. I thought we did that really well for the first 20 or 25 minutes. They didn’t really threaten our goal during that time. But it’s the first match of the season, things are so different.”

Jeje Lalpekhlua squandered two easy chances in the first half which somewhat cost Chennaiyin the match on the night.

On Jeje’s performance, the English coach said, “The way Bengaluru set up against us, with Erik (Paartalu) the way he looked after Raphael (Augusto), he obviously had to go deeper to receive the ball. Isaac (Vanmalsawma) is new in that role.

“So that’s maybe something we can look at. When we got Carlos (Salom) in the second half, it made a little bit easier for Jeje (Lalpekhlua). But still, we didn’t create as many chances in the second half. Bengaluru literally had one chance in the first half and they scored. Yes, Jeje became isolated at times and I need to address that.”

Even though Chennaiyin lost the first match of their title-defence, they dominated proceedings in Bengaluru and could have emerged victorious had they been a little more prolific in the attacking third.

Speaking on the positives from this game, Gregory suggested, “We should not let our heads drop even though we conceded just five minutes before half-time. I thought the goal was offside by a couple of metres. But Miku just reacted quickly to a loose ball. We have lots of things to look at, need to make little adjustments.

“We came here last season on March 17th and we were still perfect. It was the last match of the season. So there’s a lot of things to improve. I thought we could have come back. There were a lot of attacks in the last 20 minutes and Bengaluru sat back and defended. We have a lot of positives and a good foundation to build on.”

 

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ISL 2018-19: Carles Cuadrat – Bengaluru FC’s signings are exciting – football news

Bengaluru FC head coach Carles Cuadrat is excited about the new recruits who have arrived at the club for the fifth season of Indian Super League (ISL). 

Joining Miku, Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu and Juanan in the foreign player quota are Albert Serran, Chencho Gyeltshen and Xisco Hernandez. The Spanish influence the team has increased and the signing of the Bhutanese forward Chencho will boost the team’s attack. 

“It will be strange for our supporters to see some of our players in other jerseys. We understand that and it happens all over the world. But we have made some exciting signings this season. They will adapt to the team and to be honest, the team will slightly adjust its tactics to welcome them as well. I’m really looking forward to seeing them play, ” Cuadrat said.

The Spaniard hopes to continue the tradition of winning silverware, “The most important thing for us at Bengaluru is that we have to keep our mentality intact. We want to win trophies as we have done in the past seasons and we also want to reach the final stages of competitions,” began Cuadrat.

“The club has always been competitive and when you reach that stage, it’s just about the last few games which decide whether you become champions or not.

“Last season we had an amazing league phase in the ISL which brought us to the big final. We fell short there but went on to win the Super Cup. Similarly, the club had lost a league title at home a few years back in the last few moments. What makes the club and the supporters stronger is the desire to reach and stay at that level and that is something we work very hard on,” concluded Cuadrat.

 

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ISL 2018-19: Continuity a huge factor behind Bengaluru FC’s decision to appoint Carles Cuadrat – football news

Bengaluru FC are set to tread the competitive waters of the fifth season of the Indian Super League (ISL) with a new skipper at the helm. However, he is no stranger to the crew nor the boat. Carles Cuadrat has been the assistant coach of the Blues since 2016 when he came on board alongside Albert Roca. 

But after Roca’s exit at the end of last season, Bengaluru FC have swiftly turned to Cuadrat to take over the team. He feels that the club have made a sensible choice, given how he will be continuing Roca’s philosophy. 

The 49-year-old spoke about how he came to be Bengaluru FC’s manager in a chat with GBP Sportswhere he praised the support offered by the team management. “Yeah, we had been talking about the possibility to start me as the coach for the club. And from the first moment that they proposed that for me, they were really encouraging me to do it. They have been supporting me,” he said. 

Cuadrat went on to highlight the vision of the Bengaluru FC management, praising the vision and planning of the team. 

“I think that the way the club is doing the things, they are always thinking about the projects, you know? The management is always there with the plan and I think it made sense for them to keep the work they were doing with Albert and put it in my hands because in the end, it’s the same philosophy.

“Albert (Roca) was not ready to start the season with us. So they gave me all the help to make it possible with me. So I think that they really are in the right line and supporting all the plans that they have.”

Albert Roca Carles Cuadrat Bengaluru FC Mohun Bagan Federation Cup Final 2017

The former Galatasaray assistant will be solely in charge of a club for the first time in his career but he has, in his own words, settled in really well. Despite an AFC Cup exit at the hands of Altyn Asyr, Cuadrat exuded a confident demeanour.

“The real thing is that the club, the boys, the players are making it really easy for me (first job as manager). You know how in football there is a lot of things happening. But when you feel that you are a part of the club and that you are changing a lot of things and the machine is working at the same level, then you feel that nothing is changing a lot,” he stated philosophically. 

“So I’m happy with the way we are working day after day. Of course, the results in the AFC Cup were not very good for us. We had an opponent who had good quality and showed that they were superior in these two particular games. But we were just at the beginning of the season and are improving day by day. I hope that we can do a good job this season.”

However, Cuadrat does not believe that a lack of AFC Cup commitments will hand Bengaluru FC an advantage in the race to the ISL play-offs. Bengaluru had a packed schedule in February last year but Roca managed to negotiate the fixtures well. Regardless of continental developments, his team will be eager for success, feels Cuadrat.

“I don’t think that will have any impact. I mean, football clubs want to compete, want to be playing all the time and there was no problem last season. Now we will be missing a few games that we would like to play (AFC Cup).

“We want to play next year in this competition (AFC Cup) again. But you see how difficult it is for teams to get to the playoffs. All the teams want to arrive to the playoffs but in the end it’s just four teams that will be arriving.

Cuadrat also asserted that the Blues will be fighting for the ultimate prize in the ISL.

“Our target at the start of the season is to try to arrive to the playoffs and then we will see because to become champions at the end, it’s just a question of three games, the semi-finals and the final. Like last season, we had a nice campaign but because of one game, we couldn’t get the championship. We will be fighting for the league.”

Before he signed off, Cuadrat had a message for the fans, praising their contribution in home games. 

“As we always said, they are very important in the way we are doing things.

“We could see in the last game at home. At one moment we were losing the game and then the support from the fans helped us get from one result that was very bad for us to almost getting a draw. I just want to tell them to keep encouraging us at that level as they for sure, have scored a lot of goals for us.”

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ISL 2018-19 can be the breakthrough season for a host of youngsters – football news

The Indian Super League (ISL) has been the perfect breeding ground for young players since its inception. If Sandesh Jhingan and Romeo Fernandes were the bright spots in the first season, Thongkhosiem Haokip and Jeje Lalpekhlua stole the spotlight in the second. Chennaiyin FC’s Jerry Lalrinzuala was the standout youngster in the third season.

In the previous ISL season, FC Pune City’s Sarthak Golui and Sahil Panwar, Kerala Blasters’ Lalruatthara and Chennaiyin FC’s Anirudh Thapa earned the plaudits for lighting up the pitch with their string of impressive performances.  

There has been a remarkable shift in the transfer policy in the Indian transfer market. While most ISL teams have been reluctant to spend big on marquee players they have not shied away from splurging the cash on future stars. While 17-year old defender Anwar Ali was snapped up by Mumbai City FC for Rs 30 lakhs, a record-breaking amount for an U-18 player, Chennaiyin were prudent enough to sign Abhijit Sarkar, Deepak Tangri and Rahim Ali. ATK have signed up Boris Singh.

All these players will only join the ISL outfits ahead of the 2019-20 season as they will continue with their development with Indian Arrows under the watchful eyes of Floyd Pinto. 

Leaving aside the U-19 players there has also been a mass exodus of promising players from several I-League clubs to ISL who are keen to make a mark in the top tier of Indian football. SK Faiaz put in impressive shifts for Mohun Bagan in I-League 2017-18 and was signed by ATK. Similarly, Sinivasan Pandiyan and Michael Soosairaj of Chennai City FC made a move for greener pastures as they were roped in by Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC.

There are several players who will be plying their trade in ISL 5 who have shown promise at various other domestic tournaments and are now ready to take that leap to establish themselves in the ISL. 

Let us look at the 10 youngsters who will be making their debut and can be expected to shine this season: 

1. SK Faiaz (ATK) 

Sk.Faiaz Mohun Bagan Churchill Brothers SC I-League 2017/2018

The 23-year-old winger had put in stellar performances for Mohun Bagan in the previous edition of I-League. Although he was predominantly used on the right wing, the Howrah-born winger was comfortable plying his trade on both flanks. He has pace to burn and the tricks up his sleeves often give the full backs a run for their money. He notched up four assists and two goals for the Maroon and Greens during the 1197 minutes he spent on the pitch. He is expected to challenge ATK’s Hitesh Sharma for a starting berth who had been a regular for Teddy Sheringham and later under Ashley Westwood. 

2. Michael Soosairaj (Jamshedpur FC) 

Soosairaj Chennai City

The former Chennai City FC attacking midfielder was one of the best players in I-League 2017-18 and has been signed by Jamshedpur FC. The Tamil Nadu born player was the midfield dynamo for the men in green and his creativity proved to be decisive in unlocking gritty opposition defences. He provided 19 successful key passes in 18 appearances which is amongst the highest in the league. His partnership with Sinivasan Pandiyan was one of the few positives for the Coimbatore based side as they finished eighth in the league table. Soosairaj should be the perfect fit for head coach Cesar Ferrando.

3. Kivi Zhimomi (North East United FC) 

Gokulam Kerala East bengal Kivi Zhimomi

Kivi Zhimomi became the first player from Nagaland to sign for an ISL outfit when he joined NorthEast United FC ahead of this season. He forged a well oiled partnership with Henry Kisekka upfront with Gokulam Kerala and found the net on two occasions which included a strike against Kolkata giants East Bengal. Under the guidance of Eelco Schattorie, Arthur Papas and Avram Grant the forward is touted to make further improvements in his game to help NEUFC secure their first play-off spot in five seasons. He has previously played for Mohammedan Sporting Club at Kolkata and Rangdajied United FC at Shillong.

4. Shubham Sarangi (Delhi Dynamos)

Shubham Sarangi Delhi Dynamos

The 18-year-old forward was signed by Delhi Dynamos in the January transfer window of 2017 and was immediately sent out on a training stint with the Aspire Academy to further his football development. He was part of the India’s preparatory squad for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup but the youngster ultimately did not make the cut for Luis Norton de Matos’ final squad for the marquee event. Josep Gombau’s possession-based brand of football is tailor-made for the young forward and he hopes to establish himself firmly in Delhi’s squad this season. 

5. Vignesh Dakshinamurthy (Mumbai City FC)

Vignesh Dakshinamurthy

The 20-year-old had been the midfield general for Ozone FC and was an integral figure behind the Bengaluru based side’s brilliant run in the 2nd division I-League. Vignesh has been with the national team’s age-group sides for the past three years right from his Under-17 days. He spent the first three years in the Ozone Academy and then broke into the first team, aged just seventeen. The Islanders have snapped him up as he looks to have a promising future ahead. He can play as a left-half.  

6.  Raynier Fernandes (Mumbai City)

Raynier

Mumbai City have signed another promising midfielder in Raynier Fernandes who was an important cog at the centre of the park for Mohun Bagan. Fernandes, along with Yuta Kinowaki and Cameron Watson, provided stability to Bagan’s midfield and was equally confident in moving forward with the ball. He also oozes confidence as a defensive screen which allows greater freedom to his more attack-minded team-mates. The 22-year old completed 599 passes in I-league last season with an accuracy of 84% which is a testimony to his brilliant passing ability. 

7. Sairuat Kima (Bengaluru FC)

Sairuat Kima DSK Shivajians FC Aizawl FC I-League 2017

The 20-year-old defender was picked up by Jamshedpur FC in the previous edition of ISL but is yet to make a start in the league, albeit was given a start in the Super Cup tie against FC Goa. A product of Mizoram-based Chanmari FC, he made his top tier debut with DSK Shivajians in 2016-17 season. The lanky defender has joined Bengaluru FC this season where he will have to struggle for a starting place with veteran campaigners like Juanan and Albert Serran. It remains to be seen if he will make his ISL debut for Bengaluru FC.

8. Redeem Tlang (NEUFC)

Redeem Tlang Shillong Lajong FC Churchill Brothers SC I-League 2017/2018

The 23-year-old winger has become a household name in the domestic circuit for his exploits with Shillong Lajong for the last couple of seasons. He is known for his inch-perfect crosses from the flanks and also has a knack to score important goals. He has the experience to succeed at the highest level and under the guidance of master tacticians like Avram Grant and Schattorie, the youngster is set to be an important weapon in NEUFC’s armoury. 

9. Sinivasan Pandiyan (Chennaiyin FC)

Sinivasan Pandiyan; Chennai City

Sinivasan Pandiyan joined Chennaiyin FC at the back of an impressive season with Chennai City FC in I-League. His exceptional passing ability kept Chennai’s midfield ticking. With 86 per cent success rate in ball distribution, he was one of the orchestrators at the centre of the park for V Soundararajan. He now has to step up to the plate and impress coach John Gregory who is known to demand huge workrate from his players. 

10. Jithin MS (Kerala Blasters)

Jithin MS Kerala Santosh Trophy 2018

Jithin MS scripted history Kerala Blasters paid Rs. 5 lakh as a transfer fee to Kerala FC to sign him on a three-year deal. The Thrissur-born player was lethal in the attacking third for Kerala state team in the Santosh Trophy and was the joint top scorer in the tournament. His goalmouth exploits helped Kerala lift the trophy after 14 years as they beat West Bengal in Kolkata. Although it will not be easy for Jithin to break into the starting XI from the onset, but he has the firepower to make an impact in the ISL.

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ISL 2018-19: Bengaluru FC’s results in preseason – football news

After dominating the I-League for four seasons, Bengaluru FC reached the final of the Indian Super League (ISL) in their debut season.

Carles Cuadrat replaced Albert Roca as the head coach of Bengaluru ahead of the fifth season of ISL. They roped in Bhutanese forward Chencho Gyeltshen, Spanish midfielder Xisco Hernandez and defender Albert Serran after retaining last season’s performers Erik Paartalu, Miku, Juanan and Dimas Delgado. 

Albert Roca’s men travelled to Spain this year for their pre-season campaign. 

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Bengaluru FC in Spain
Match No. Date Opponent Score Result
1 03/08/2018 Atlético Saguntino 1-2 Loss
2 06/08/2018 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai FC 1-5 Loss
3 11/08/2018 Villarreal B 0-1 Loss
4 14/08/2018 Barcelona B 0-3 Loss

 

After the preseason in Spain, The Blues faced Turkmen champions Altyn Asyr in the inter-zone semi-final of the AFC Cup and lost 2-5 on aggregate.

Bengaluru FC will host Chennai City in their opening ISL game on September 30, 2018.

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