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Indian Super League

ISL 2017: Sandesh Jhingan needs to lead from the front

2:15 am AEDT 1/1/18
Kerala Blasters Bengaluru FC
The 24-year-old centre-back was at fault for two of the three goals as Bengaluru picked up three points…

Kerala Blasters versus Bengaluru FC is a tie which pitted two of the most important players in the Indian national team against each other - Sandesh Jhingan and Sunil Chhetri. It isn’t surprising that the two players are the captains for their respective sides.

However, on Sunday while one played a telling role in ensuring his team picked up full points, the other failed to produce a top performance.

Sunil Chhetri was lively and tested Subhasish Roy in goal with a rasping shot from distance in the first half. He even had a header kept out by the custodian after the break. The breakthrough came with Chhetri’s brilliant run down the left which saw him cross into the box. The ball was handled and the resultant penalty was converted by the 33-year-old striker.

On the other hand, Jhingan had a game to forget. He committed a horrendous error by moving his hand towards the cross by Chhetri thereby, handling the ball inside the box which gave the away team a penalty. This isn’t something you expect from a top defender like Jhingan.

“The penalty changed the game... All goals were self-inflicted. It is not good, it is unacceptable,” were the words of Rene Meulensteen in the aftermath of the 3-1 defeat.

And the Dutch coach isn’t entirely wrong. For the second goal, Lalruathara was dispossessed by Miku as the former Al Gharafa striker doubled his team’s lead in the stoppage time.

However, it was the third goal which further raised questions over Jhingan’s performance. Subhasish Bose nutmegged Jhingan inside the box and passed it for Miku to apply the finishing touch.

Meulensteen and Blasters fans would expect Jhingan to lead from the front but the skipper went missing in crucial moments – similar to their defeat against FC Goa.

Another point to note is that when Kerala have come up against teams with strong attack (FC Goa and Bengaluru FC), they have been left exposed. Next up is a tie against FC Pune City where Nemanja Lakic-Pesic is suspended after picking his fourth yellow card of the season. You have got to wonder how would they deal with the threat of Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro.

One also needs to highlight that the Blasters do not have a plan in attack. They kept thumping long balls forward towards Iain Hume and Mark Sifneos. At one point in the second half when Jackichand Singh was to cross, almost every attacking player was static and made no off the ball run.

The absence of creativity in midfield is telling in their performances.

“We have got Keziron coming in. He brings some energy; he will help us in midfield. He can keep the ball moving, that is something we have missed,” said the former Manchester United assistant coach.

Hopefully, the Blasters fans would hope that Kerizon would help resolve their issues in midfield.