BY Rahul Bali Follow @rahul_atma on twitter
The latest round of games in the I-League supplied no end of drama and farce, as well as a collection of stunning goals. Here we pick out the five things we learned from this week's action…
|Bengaluru deserve to be table toppers|
The newcomers have been the toast of the season and rightfully so. They couldn’t make their dominance in the first half count and only surged ahead through a penalty converted by Sunil Chhetri. After the break it was Salgaocar FC who had the upper hand and scored a late equalizer from the spot. However Robin Singh’s injury time winner after being fouled inside the box won three crucial points for his side going into the winter break. They have been scrapping wins out of nothing – which is one of the novel qualities of championship winning sides. Kudos to Ashley Westwood and company!
|Dempo SC are as poor as Churchill Brothers|
Dempo SC's transition year has been far worse than what one expected it to be. With Shillong Lajong playing with two foreign players to Dempo’s one, the north eastern brigade got the better of their Goan opponents for the second time this season. Mohammedan Sporting and Churchill Brothers have played 13 matches each this season and have amassed 13 and 10 points respectively. Dempo SC from their 15 matches, only have 16 points to show which means both Mohammedan and Churchill can go level with them. If one looks closely at the table, Dempo have conceded 17 goals, only one less than Churchill and have scored 13, one more than the defending champions. So while the focus has been on how Churchill are one of the relegation contenders, Dempo are no better than their local rivals. Under Armando Colaco, at the start of the season the now East Bengal coach would often remark, “Our first criteria is to avoid relegation.” In his absence, this sentence holds true.
|Shillong Lajong defying odds|
The north eastern side is used to being in the bottom half of the table in each of their I-League campaigns in the past. However this term, they have performed consistently and deservedly are placed fourth in the standings. They downed Dempo 2-1 and thus extended their unbeaten run to seven matches at home. Thangboi Singto has proved his mettle as a top coach despite being relatively inexperienced on the big stage.
|The most in-form side is…|
Santa has been smiling on the Flaming Oranje as they made it four wins in as many matches in December. Under Oscar Bruzon’s tutelage, Sporting Clube de Goa have gone from strength-to-strength and it has not just been their foreign contingent, as their Indian players too have played a key role in their strong showing this season. They have played a game less than Bengaluru and are a mere three points behind them. Another win by a margin of a minimum of two goals and they shall usurp the ‘league leaders’ tag from Bengaluru.
|United Sports Club in dire straits|
The fact that coach Eelco Schattorie stated that he could possibly resign is an indication of the kind of troubles the club is facing. With most of the squad not being financially remunerated for a few months due to lack of sponsor, the Dutch coach’s task of motivating players for matches is proving to be an unenvied one. The only way the Kolkata outfit can come back to winning track is if their players are made to feel secure financially. How that can be done remains a question for the officials.
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