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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: NorthEast United’s Eelco Schattorie – I was frustrated with the way we played – football news

NorthEast United FC find themselves at the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) table after their last-gasp 1-0 win over 10-man ATK at the Salt Lake stadium on Thursday.

The visitors were handed a man advantage in the 32nd minute of the match when ATK left-back was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Summing up his side’s win post the match, NorthEast United head coach Eelco Schattorie took the chance to lament his team’s pre-season preparations.

“First I want to address that me and staff that pre-season we had was far from the way I wanted,” Schattorie stated.

“I like to play attacking football. But we had to take into consideration that we had only two days to recover from our last game. We are still not at the fitness levels that we should be at due to the pre-season,” he added.

The visitors were frustrated for large periods of the match with ATK’s 10 men holding firm before Rowllin Borges’ 90th minute header finally broke the deadlock.

Despite the three away points garnered by his side, the Dutchman was not pleased with how his men had applied themselves after going a man up.

“I was frustrated with the way we played because I think we should have kept the ball because that is my style but we were focusing too much on going forward. Then the whole team gets left out and when things should be easier, it actually became more difficult for us because players think we have to go even faster forward but that’s not the case. They are dropping in as a result of going down to 10 players and we needed to show more patience to break that down. But we got away with the three points, so that is fantastic,” he explained.

The 46-year-old also refused to describe the red card to Ralte as an advantage to his side and stated that his players could have used the ball much better in that situation.

“As I said, if the team really plays the style I want, then a red-card is really good for me because that leaves you more space for football. At this stage, with the preparation we had in pre-season, I expected a little more with the circulation of the ball. We made many mistakes here, too much staying on one side and too many long balls,” said Schattorie.

“So of course, for red card is always a turning point but it does not always give you an advantage. Suddenly, some of the players start taking it too easy or that we have to go faster forward. Ideally, you would like to take it as an advantage because the longer the game goes on, the more tired the opposition becomes and that can give you an advantage,” he continued.

The perennial underachievers might be at the top of the league table right now but their coach remains an unsatisfied man.

“For me, if I lose but we play a really good game creating a lot of chances, then I am happier than when we win due to a lucky goal or something,” he remarked to conclude.

 

 

 

 

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ISL 2018-19: NorthEast United FC squad analysis – Can The Highlanders finally reach play-offs? – football news

NorthEast United are the only franchise from season one who haven’t made it into the play-offs ever, leave alone winning the championship. Season five of the ISL will see them have yet another coach at the helm of affairs as they hope to break the jinx.

Can they finally make the cut this season and spring a surprise? In this piece, we look at the strengths and weaknesses of this NorthEast United contingent.

Coach

NEUFC ATK

Eelco Schattorie, after being brought in midway through last season to assist Avram Grant, has now been asked to take over the team. The former East Bengal coach will have Arthur Papas as his assistant and will be looking to revive NorthEast United’s fortunes. 

Schattorie is a coach who prefers attacking football, given his Dutch lineage, and often uses the flanks as the outlet during transitions. He is also a stickler for discipline and often formulates multiple strategies for games. 

New signings

Indian players: Pawan Kumar (GK), Gurmeet Singh, Keegan Pereira, Pawan Kumar (DEF), Provat Lakra, Gurwinder Singh, Seityasen Singh, Nikhil Kadam, Redeem Tlang, Simranjit Singh, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Rupert Nongrum, Girik Khosla, Kivi Zhimomi.

Foreign players: Mato Grgic, Mislav Komorski, Jose David Leudo, Federico Galego, Augustine Okrah, Juan Cruz Mascia, Bartholomew Ogbeche.

Notable signings:

Bartholomew Ogbeche - Williem II

The Highlanders completely changed their foreign contingent from last season and signed seven new players. The most notable signing among them is former PSG striker Bartholomew Ogbeche. The Nigerian striker has represented his country 11 times and is a proven goalscorer. 

Among the Indian players who have been brought in this season, Nikhil Kadam, who had an impressive season with Mohun Bagan, stands out. Rupert Nongrum from ATK and Kivi Zhimomi from Gokulam Kerala are all promising names. Former East Bengal captain Gurwinder Singh has also been brought in. 

Strength & Weakness:

Midfield is NorthEast United’s strongest area. They have signed three foreign players Jose David Leudo, Federico Galego and Augustine Okrah. They also have the likes of Rowllin Borges, Nikhil Kadam and Rupert Nongrum to provide options. 

Also, their two central defenders – Grgic and Komorski – are both over six feet tall and that will help them in set-piece situations. 

NorthEast’s weakness could be a lack of quality Indian players to complement their foreign contingent. Also, the goalkeepers in the squad do not inspire confidence with the likes of TP Rehenesh error-prone. 

Complete Squad: 

Goalkeepers: Gurmeet, Avilash Paul, TP Rehenesh

Defenders: Gurwinder Singh, Keegan Pereira, Reagan Singh, Mato Grgic, Mislav Komorski, Pawan Kumar, Provat Lakra, Robert Lalthlamuana, Simranjeet Singh

Midfielders: Augustine Okrah, Rupert Nongrum, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Redeem Tlang, Nikhil Kadam, Fanai Lalrempuia, Seityasen Singh, Rowllin Borges, Federico Gallego 

Strikers: Kivi Zhimomi, Girik Khosla, Juan Cruz Mascia, Bartholomew Ogbeche 

 

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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: NorthEast United FC results in preseason – football news

With the fifth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) set to kick-start on 29 September, the various franchises have been busy fine-tuning their preparations for the league with preseason friendly ties.

Guwahati-based outfit NorthEast United FC appointed Eelco Schattorie as their head coach ahead of the upcoming edition. Their preseason plans in Sweden was cancelled and the team is currently training in Guwahati. 

Article continues below

 

NorthEast United in India
Match No. Date Opponent Score Result
1 03/09/2018 Guwahati Town Club 6-0 Win

 Nigerian striker Bartholomew Ogbeche bagged a brace as NorthEast United romped to a win against the Guwahati Town club in their first preseason match. Rowlin Borges, Girik Khosla, Juan Cruz Mascia and Simranjit Singh also managed a goal each to complete a 6-0 thrashing. 

The Highlanders will start the fifth season of ISL against FC Goa on October 1, 2018.

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