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ISL 2017-18: Rare goalkeeping brilliance comes to the fore

06:22 GMT+3 24/02/2018
Kerala Blasters vs Chennaiyin
For a change, the goalkeepers stole the headlines not for their blunders but for their commanding display in between the sticks…

In the second season of the Indian Super League (ISL), Karanjit Singh won the plaudits in Kochi as he denied Josu Currais from the penalty spot in the second half as Kerala Blasters drew 1-1 with Chennaiyin FC. This was after Peter Taylor was sacked and Terry Phelan had been handed over the reins.

On Friday evening, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, once again Karanjit Singh was back to his best. Not only did he guess Courage Pekuson’s spot-kick right, he made a host of saves which kept his side in the game.

At the other end was Paul Rachubka, who too, made at least a couple of top saves to help his team earn a point. This edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) has seen goalkeeping gaffes become a common trend of sorts. In a game, if one particular goalkeeper would do well, the other shall commit horrible errors.

However, at Kochi, Karanjit and Rachubka made important saves for their sides and kept a clean-sheet. This was only the second time this season that Chennaiyin FC drew blanks; the earlier fixture being in Mumbai when they lost 1-0 back in December 2017.

This was also the first time that Kerala Blasters hadn’t found the back of the net since David James took charge of the team. For that, they had only themselves to blame for failing to convert the opportunities. Chekiyot Vineeth struck the post and was wasteful on at least three occasions after his team-mates found him in good positions.

You have also got to question the decision to let Pekuson take the spot-kick when there were more experienced penalty takers such as Dimitar Berbatov. The Blasters paid the price for being naïve and allowing the opposition to dictate the proceedings.

They find their season hanging by the thread as even a win in Bengaluru on March 1st wouldn’t guarantee them a berth in the play-offs. James’ team would need at least a couple of results to go in their favour.

It must be remembered that their season started with three consecutive draws on home soil, two being 0-0. This was in fact, their fifth draw in the comforts of their home this season. The inability to convert draws into wins has been a major factor and once came to the fore against Chennaiyin.

While they did improve since the arrival of James, Blasters are in need of better personnel in certain key departments something which needs to be addressed upon in the summer.

They would now turn their attention to the Super Cup which is a knockout-based tournament hoping that they can salvage some pride.