BY ARJUN V NAMBOOTHIRI Follow @AaeJaey on twitter
In a week full of controversies and high octane drama, Goal picks out five things we learnt from game-week 18 of the I-League...
|Balwant's form is good news for Koevermans
The lurky lad from Punjab is enjoying the best phase of his career as he is scoring goals for Churchill Brothers on a consistent basis. The last minute equalizer in the game against Mohun Bagan took his tally to 8 goals in the I-League and also highlighted the fact that he is a genuine match winner. The former JCT striker has also been called up into the national team and deservedly so. India coach Wim Koevermans would be pleased to see his development as it also gives him more options to choose from when India take on Bangladesh next month. Balwant is an important cog in the Churchill attack and they shall surely avoid relegation if he continues to be on song.
|Bengaluru FC must make home games count
League leaders Bengaluru FC looked scratchy as they could only muster a point against Mumbai FC. Bangalore Football Stadium have been a fortress so far in which they have accumulated 21 out of a possible 30 points, with only East Bengal defeating them at home. As the league enters the business end of the season, six of their last eight games are away from home. In such a scenario they need to make their home matches count which wasn't the case against Khalid Jamil's side. With Sporting Club de Goa, one of the most consistent sides under their noses, it will be a huge test of character to see Bengaluru FC to pip the other rivals to win the league in their debut season.
|Mohammedan are a 'Cup' team
Mohammedan Sporting added the IFA Shield to their silverware collection during the I-League winter break and did admirably well in the Federation Cup where they went out of the group stages only thanks to an inferior goal difference to Dempo SC. They had also won the Durand Cup at the start of the season. However Sanjoy Sen’s side have performed miserably in the I-League as the team lacks consistency. If they want to save their season, they need to start winning games in the league, else they would once again head back to division two.
|Salgaocar's defense improves
While Dudu Omagbemi has hogged all the headlines and deservedly so as his goals have won them six points in their last two matches, their defense has been equally solid. Prior to their I-League games against Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan, in the previous three fixtures at the Federation Cup they had conceded seven goals. Also before the I-League went into the winter break, they had conceded 11 goals in six matches and failing to win any of their matches. The likes of Chika Wali, Augustin Fernandes, Matthew Foschini and Nicolau Colaco are executing their defensive duties very well.
Refereeing decisions were at the forefront when Dempo SC registered a 1-0 victory over ten-men East Bengal. In what was billed as a contest between two coaches who prefer the ‘pass-and-move’ brand of football was killed off by a red card. Although Gurwinder Singh is certainly at fault for retaliating with a punch on the stomach of Haroon Amiri, referee Vishnu Chauhan has been in the spotlight having different “yardsticks”, as claimed by the Kolkata outfit, when dealing with fouls committed by the opposition on their players.
Instead of cribbing about the referee being unfair, it would be best if the players are advised not to retaliate in the heat of the moment as that is a punishable offense. Not even Cristiano Ronaldo is spared when it comes to that as was evidenced when the Ballon d’Or winner was given marching orders against Atheltic Bilbao and a subsequent three match ban.
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