Foreign Signings in the ISL Part II – The Other 5 Clubs

[As of 03-09-2017]

This is the second group and it includes FC Pune City, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa, Jamshedpur FC, and Bengaluru FC. In this group, I feel that FC Pune City will do well. Why? It’s because I like their signings so far, their coach has grown on me over the past three seasons, and their transfer business is, by no means, complete for this season.

Goa should also be interesting to watch as they try to ditch the green and yellow motif (Brazil) for the red and yellow insignia (Spain). Intros are fluff. Let’s get down to the meat of the post. Continue reading


Chennaiyin FC vs. FC Pune City Review

Chennaiyin FC vs. FC Pune City

Chennaiyin FC Take Advantage of Lacklustre FC Pune City

Well, well, well… what a result yesterday! By beating two of the semi-finalists of the last season, didn’t Northeast United announce themselves into the 2015 season? Could the results against Chennaiyin FC and Atletico Kolkata show that their team is finally clicking? Could they go on a fantasy run? We’ll know later of course because today is about Chennaiyin FC and FC Pune City.

FC Pune City, the away team today, is doing fairly well in the Indian Super League 2015 season especially if you compare it to their last year’s performance. Chennaiyin FC, the home team, of course, is not having a swell time in the 2015 ISL season.

Will the fact that Chennaiyin FC is playing at home after four games lead to a win for them or will Jackichand Singh continue showcasing his skills and tormenting defenders?

Team News for Chennaiyin FC & FC Pune City

Chennaiyin FC - Alessandro PotenzaThis one will be an interesting battle. Both teams have a lot to play for. A win for FC Pune City will put them on top of the table. In fact, even a draw will propel them above FC Goa on the table. For Chennaiyin FC, this game is important because a win in it will bring them back into contention amongst the big guns.

Chennaiyin FC have been having a stop start season and are finding it tough to capture any kind of consistency. Chennaiyin lost their last game against the Highlanders and Marco Materazzi reacted to that dismal performance by ringing in the changes.

He fixed his error from last team selection by bringing back Elano Blumer and Stiven Mendoza into the starting line-up at the cost of Fikru and Jeje Lalpekhlua. He also chose to rest Alessandro Potenza which I feel might be a huge mistake. Bruno Pelissari and Harmanjot Khabra were also given the hook for Thoi Singh and Raphael Augusto. Possibly, the most interesting change was the removal of Apoula Edel for Karanjit Singh.

FC Pune City’s team remains almost unchanged with the exception of the injured Lenny Rodriguez who would sit this one out for Manish Maithani. Jackichand Singh, Tuncay Sanli, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Didier Zokora, and Nicky Shorey getting a chance to continue their good form.

I have to say I have enjoyed how FC Pune City have been playing. They, I feel, have had a lot of variation in their attack and none of their strategies have been negative at all. They attack and they defend with class which is something that I’ve come to appreciate.

Chennaiyin FC, on the other hand, are an enigma. I think they’re an enigma to themselves as well to a point where they seem confused at times on the pitch. So, my prediction for this game is for FC Pune City to win by two goals to the 1 of Chennaiyin FC.

Chennaiyin FC Start With More Drive

FC Pune City - Steve Simonsen

FC Pune City – Steve Simonsen
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

The home team started the game on the front foot with Elano and Mendoza showing their almost telepathic understanding. Their interchange allowed Mendoza to get a shot off from outside the box. It wasn’t a bad effort but Steve Simonsen was more than a match for it. He not only saved it but held it too.

This action was followed by a bad decision from Manuele Blasi who came in late on Zokora and received a yellow card. My instant reaction was that that yellow card may cause Chennaiyin FC problems later.

In the sixth minute Simonsen saved his team when a short back pass from Gouramangi Singh was chased down by Elano. Fortunately, before the Brazilian could pull the trigger, Simonsen dived in and got the ball with his knee. It looked as if Chennaiyin FC wanted it more.

Chennaiyin FC Get a Great Chance

Chennaiyin FC - Elano BlumerThe 19th minute brought the most existing goal mouth action of the game. The cross came in from Chennaiyin FC’s left flank. It was plucked out of thin air by Elano who tried to poke it past Simonsen. However, the keeper was up to the task and parried the shot. The ball then fell to another Chennaiyin player who could only poke it wide of the post under pressure from the Pune defence.

The game, I felt, was being affected by a poor pitch. While the commentators were claiming that the pitch was watered, it didn’t look like it. There was something wrong with it because the ball was holding up on it. The passes were running short, the ball was wobbling while rolling, and the pitch was essentially looking woeful and very thick.

Chennaiyin FC Take an Overdue Lead

Chennaiyin FC - Bernard Mendy

Chennaiyin FC – Bernard Mendy
Credit: Pal Pillai/ ISL/ SPORTZPICS

The 28th minute saw another save from Simonsen. It was innocuous ball from Chennaiyin FC’s Mailson Alves from deep in his half. In fact, it was a clearance from the defender. The ball ended up dropping for Mendoza and freed him from the clutches of Pune defenders. He ran at the keeper but Simonsen again saved the shot.

Chennaiyin FC’s domination, however, bore fruit in the 34th minute. The goal was scored by Bernard Mendy from a long throw in. The ball dropped into the middle of the penalty box, Mendy ghosted in front of his marker and nodded the ball into the net. Despite the form of Simonsen, the English keeper couldn’t have done anything there. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 0 FC Pune City

Near the end of the half, Ravanan struck the ball goal wards when the ball fell for him from a Jackichand blocked shot. However, Singh stretched out a big hand and used his strong wrists to deflect the ball off the target. It was a brilliant save which kept Chennaiyin FC in the lead.

Chennaiyin FC Double the Lead in Second Half

Chennaiyin FC - Stiven Mendoza

Chennaiyin FC – Stiven Mendoza
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

In the second half, Mendoza doubled Chennaiyin FC’s lead on the back of poor play from FC Pune City. Pune lost the ball deep in their half to Elano who produced a wonderful slide rule pass for Mendoza behind the defence. Mendoza got free, rounded the keeper, and passed the ball into the net. Chennaiyin FC 2 – 0 FC Pune City

My prediction be damned. This match looked like it could turn into a rout for Chennaiyin FC.

After that goal Chennaiyin FC settled deep into their half. They were pressing and pushing FC Pune City well and every time they would get the ball they would try to launch a counterattack with pace and pinpoint passing.

FC Pune City Pull One Back

FC Pune City - Kalu UcheThe next notable moment in the game was the entry of Fikru and the exit of Mendoza.

However, that moment was nothing compared to FC Pune pulling one goal back. FC Pune City won a freekick on the right flank.

The freekick was taken by Dharmaraj Ravanan. The cross dropped on the head of Kalu Uche, who had earlier come on for Yendrick Ruiz earlier.

Uche’s header was saved by Singh but it dropped to Lyngdoh who made a hash of his swivel shot. Still, he knocked the ball to Uche again who made no mistake and slotted it in. Chennaiyin FC 2 – 1 FC Pune City

FC Pune Try to Level the Game

FC Pune City - Adrian MutuChennaiyin FC could’ve restored their two goal lead when Fikru got free behind the defence. He ran, received a lofted ball, and tried to slide it under the keeper but Simonsen again showed his class and stopped it.

FC Pune City could’ve gone level too when Jackichand Singh crossed the ball from their left flank. The cross was excellent and dropped onto the head of Adrian Mutu. Mutu’s header just missed the goal through deflection with the keeper floundering. Mutu got a header off from the resulting corner but again put the ball wide.

That would be the last significant chance for FC Pune City. Try as they might, they would not breakthrough or get another chance to do so.

Tactical Analysis: First Impressions + Projections

There wasn’t anything wrong with how the two managers setup tactically – even in the case of FC Pune City. The game was lost on the pitch simply because certain players played better than other players.

When FC Pune went behind first, they were still in the game but they didn’t play like that. For some reason, the first goal rattled FC Pune City enough to start giving the ball away at the drop of a hat. Still, they could’ve still turned it around if they had applied themselves.

The game was lost, however, when FC Pune City went down by two goals early in the second half. After that, they had to really push for their goals. More importantly, Chennaiyin FC were astute enough to know that they can sit back and use their pace to counter.

I think the pitch also affected FC Pune City’s game because their game depends on either quick passing or close control dribbling skills. A pitch where the ball holds up or wobbles isn’t ideal for FC Pune City. At the same time, it can be said that FC Pune City should know how to play in all conditions.

More importantly, they shouldn’t be waiting for the last 15 minutes to wake up and start playing. They shouldn’t be taking 75 minutes to get used to the pitch. So, well played Chennaiyin FC!


FC Pune City vs. Atletico De Kolkata Preview

FC Pune City vs. Atletico De Kolkata Preview

This one is going to be a very, very interesting encounter. The difference between these two teams isn’t more than a single goal. Now, I’m not referring to Goal Difference (GD) but instead what happened in two of their games.

What I mean by above is that these are two teams that are separated by one point. That was because Atletico Kolkata drew at Goa while FC Pune City lost their game against Delhi Dynamos FC because of a silly goal right at the end of the game. If they hadn’t conceded that goal, they would right now be tied with Atletico Kolkata on points.

Granted; they conceded that goal because they were pursuing the equaliser but its small events like these that make a difference in the big scheme of things. Me: “Must take lesson about life from that!

FC Pune City’s Chances Depend on Platt Not Messing Up

FC Pune City - David PlattWhat I am building up to is that I don’t see a lot of difference between these two teams. That comes with a caveat though. David Platt must try to keep things simple. He tried to be fancy in the last game with his ploy of deploying Wesley Verhoek in the middle and Kalu Uche on the wing.

I think Uche should be in the centre as opposed to Verhoek and that proved to be the case when he scored the only goal for his team in the game.

It’s true that hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially when judging managers (and if anyone is guilty of that then it’s me) but I do think that Platt can simplify things a little for his team.

If Platt doesn’t try to be too smart, then his team may be able to match Atletico Kolkata who are playing the best football I’ve seen from the team in two seasons.

The team news from FC Pune City will also determine a large chunk of their fate. Will Mutu start the game? Will Jackichand Singh continue his impressive form from the last game? Will Eugeneson Lyngdoh start in FC Pune City’s primary central midfielder role? Will Israil Gurung and Didier Zokora be back in the team? All these questions must be answered in yes, if FC Pune City are to beat Atletico Kolkata today and snatch the top spot from them.

Atletico Kolkata to Retain Their Unbeaten Streak

Atletico Kolkata - Arara IzumiEven if FC Pune City play to their best abilities, Atletico Kolkata have the capability to beat them at their home ground. It all depends on whether Iain Hume is fit or not.

Remember, Hume has played all three of ATK’s games and is 31 years old. Moreover, with HeHHhhhHelder Postiga injured, Hume becomes very important for ATK and Habas the Henchman may want to keep him protected.

It all depends on how fit Habas judges Hume to be. If Hume isn’t fit, then that may mean Baljit “I-was-racially-abused” Sahni and Sushil Kumar Singh being deployed. I know Sahni got a straight red card one game ago so he may be banned for two games but I’m just not sure whether this rule is relevant in the Indian Super League or not (I think it is likely).

Personally, I’d like to see Habas the Henchman go out on a limb and put Arata “Neelkanth Khambholja” Izumi (that’s his Indian name) in the striker’s position. I think Izumi has all the attributes to lead the line for ATK, provided he is given the chance.

I expect to see Arnab Mondal and Rino Anto back in the team after their international outing. Rest of the team basically picks itself but I would be interested to see if Ofentse Nato (I still love that first name – who would pick a fight with a lad with a name like that) is played in midfield or defence. Atletico Kolkata need to win this game to stretch the game between #1 and #2 in the league table but they need to be careful too. If they go all out for a win away from home, they may lose their top spot altogether!

What is my Prediction for this game? An incredibly thin margin win for FC Pune City on home turf. At the very least, they should get a draw. If they can’t, then they should be really disappointed.


FC Pune City vs. Delhi Dynamos FC Review: FCPC Stumble; Delhi Dynamos Show Pedigree

FC Pune City vs. Delhi Dynamos FC

This is the game in which FC Pune City would throw down the gauntlet against all the other contenders (read: Atletico Kolkata, Chennaiyin FC, and FC Goa) for the top spot in the Indian Super League 2015 table.

For me, two games are not really good enough to judge where a team will end up on a table. Granted; we only have 14 games in an Indian Super League season but I still don’t think two games are enough.

The 3rd game, however, can reveal much. If a team is top of the table after 3 out of 14 games, then you know they have some substance. It’s more than 20% after all. So, this game, for me, would show how good each of these teams are.

Team News for FC Pune City & Delhi Dynamos FC

FC Pune City - Wesley Verhoek

FC Pune City – Wesley Verhoek

Team news for both, FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos FC was incredibly interesting.

To be honest with you, I didn’t expect to see so many changes.

FC Pune City made some very critical changes in their team from the last game.

They took out Roger Johnson from the centre half position and brought in Diego Colotto and Gouramangi Singh with Dharmaraj Ravanan showing his versatility by playing in right back position. Maithani moved out from defence to midfield, a move that i wasn’t entirely sure of.

Zokora was rested for James Bailey. All three attackers were replaced by David Platt as well with the impressive Israil Gurung, the old Adrian Mutu, and the Costa Rican Yendrick Ruiz being replaced by Jackichand Singh (Yay!), Kalu Uche, and Wesley Verhoek. All the changes from FC Pune City were very daring. At the same time, it did make their bench very strong which boasted of Mutu, Zokora, and Tuncay Sanli!

Delhi Dynamos FC made huge changes as well with the highlight being the return of homeboy Robin Singh for the disappointing Richard Gadze. Apparently Robin Singh flew back straight from the international game so that he could feature in this game. I have to admit that from the first game I didn’t rate Gadze so much and wanted to see Robin Singh. They also replaced Sanjiban Ghosh with Antonio Doblas Santana.

A First Half Where Indians Glittered Along With the Marquee Stars

Delhi Dynamos FC - John Arne Riise

Delhi Dynamos FC – John Arne Riise
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

Early in the first half, Robin Singh got a shot off from outside the box while Jackichand Singh showed his skills on the wing with a cross and a volley. I like the look of Jackichand Singh. I haven’t seen him before but he looks like a tricky customer.

More importantly, he looks like someone who thinks about the game and his opponent. I think Jackichand Singh is as good as Romeo or vice versa. While Rome is an instinctive dribbler, Jackichand Singh is a thinking winger. Both Jackichand and Romeo have pace to burn along with good dribbling skills and brilliant first touches.

In addition, John Arne Riise was dominating his back line well keeping FC Pune City strikers at bay. Also starring were Gustavo Dos Santos and Florent Malouda.

The First Half Was Very Well Matched and Technical

It was interesting to note that Verhoek was playing in the central position as opposed to Uche. This was an interesting move from David Platt. I was curious to see how it would pan out.

Looking at Uche, he totally reminded me of the Premier League striker Obafemi Martins in his younger years. It’s not that surprising because both are Nigerian and have similar styles of football. Arsenal fans will, of course, remember that guy with some real venom. I won’t talk more of him; Martins not Uche. I’m also an Arsenal fan.

Delhi Dynamos FC Open Scoring

FC Pune City - Robin Singh

Delhi Dynamos FC – Robin Singh Credit: Pal Pillai / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

As is often the case with highly technical games, the opening goal came from a set piece. This was good from Delhi Dynamos FC. They couldn’t penetrate with open play, so they went around the problem. They used a corner to score.

And, who was it who scored? Why, Robin Singh, of course. No, not the one-kneed-pull-at-Sharjah cricketer, but the one-knee-in-air-with-a-header into the goal. This is exactly what Robin Singh did. The corner was taken by Malouda. It was floated onto the back post. Robin Singh had peeled away from his marker which allowed him to nod the ball into the net. FC Pune City 0 – 1 Delhi Dynamos FC

FC Pune City Show Sparks Near the End

In the last 7 minutes of the first half, FC Pune City came alive and really threatened to score the equaliser. There were a series of corners and a good two minute period in which Delhi Dynamos FC didn’t even come out of their box.

The best chance came in the 45th minute but Colotto showed why he is a defender and not a striker. A freekick came in and fell to Colotto at the far post but he could only control it and not get a shot off. Doblas came in and blocked the ball to keep Colotto from striking the ball.

FC Pune City Dominate Second Half with Jackie Chan’s Insane Skills

FC Pune City - Jackichand Singh

Jackichand Singh – The Next Indian Star

The second half began with an FC Pune City change. They needed reinforcements and it was clear that Platt saw it too. He brought on Tuncay Sanli for Verhoek who I felt was not really suited for this game. I’ll explain why I though he wasn’t suited near the end of this article.

Within the first few minutes of the second half Sanli made a difference by making a run that was spotted and met with a pass by Uche. Sanli got a shot off from acute angle but Doblas was equal to it.

The second half was end to end stuff with FC Pune City looking more dangerous on account of Sanli’s runs while Delhi Dynamos FC were looking threatening on the counter and the long ball. All in all, I felt that the quality of football improved from both sides in the second half.

A brilliant chance went begging by when Jackichand Singh dropped a gorgeous ball into the middle of the FC Pune City penalty box. The ball was met by a free header from Uche who could only direct it against Doblas. The header was saved and I bet Roberto Carlos’ heartbeat skipped a beat.

Soon after, FC Pune City brought on even more cavalry in the form of Didier Zokora who came on for Bailey. Zokora’s job was simply to get the ball back for FC Pune City and may be get the odd longshot off.

Delhi Dynamos FC Show Some Spine

Delhi Dynamos FC - Shylo Malsawmtluanga

Delhi Dynamos FC – Shylo Malsawmtluanga

While FC Pune City were dominating most of the second half, Delhi Dynamos FC were stringing together the odd attack. One in particular was brilliant with Dos Santos showing some sublime skills.

Another good attack came through a Riise freekick which was hit so well that it nearly squirmed through Steve Simonsen’s fingers.

Around the 66th minute, Delhi Dynamos FC also brought on Sehnaj Singh for Shylo Malsawmtluanga (Wow! What a name!). The final throw of the dice from FC Pune City was to take off Jackichand for Eugeneson Lyngdoh – one young Indian star for another young Indian star.

Just so you know Jackichand Singh was taken off because he worked his pants off in this game. His fatigue levels must’ve been through the roof.

Lyngdoh Shows Nerves and Skills as Pune Continue Attacking

FC Pune City - Eugeneson Lyngdoh

FC Pune City – Eugeneson Lyngdoh

Lyngdoh’s first two balls into the box were so bad that even his mother won’t tell him that they were ok. He skied one freekick and one free cross.

It was clear that it was a case of the nerves for the youngster. But Lyngdoh turned that around with a subtle bit of skill beating two defenders near the baseline and crossing the ball in.

The mayhem Lyngdoh caused resulted in continued attack. This resulted in a penalty claim in the box and Maithani bowled over.

But, replays showed that it wasn’t a penalty because Maithani simply toppled on his own. The last few minutes of the game were frantic just like the last few minutes of the first half.

However, as many times as FC Pune City would come close, they would never break through… at least not before Delhi Dynamos gave them the knockout punch.

The Two Teams Exchange Goals like Businessmen

Delhi Dynamos FC - Richard Gadze

Delhi Dynamos FC – Richard Gadze

Chasing the game comes with its own pitfalls. FC Pune City saw that first-hand when they were caught out of position and Delhi Dynamos FC doubled their lead through Richard Gadze.

The goal was made by Vinicius who dribbled along the base line and crossed gently to Gadze.

All Gadze had to do with the keeper stranded was tap it in. FC Pune City 0 – 2 Delhi Dynamos FC

FC Pune City kicked off from the goal and took the ball all the way to the other end through Lyngdoh. Lyngdoh dribbled, beat two men, and cross the ball onto the penalty spot. The keeper tried to stop the cross but only looped it up. Uche was running in and nodded it home. FC Pune City 1 – 2 Delhi Dynamos FC

Tactical Analysis: First Impressions + Projections

The game was won on the back of a set piece. You can’t say much about that. Not a lot of tactics involved in a winner like that. It’s just one player switching off and another player pulling one over his opponent. It was well done by Robin Singh. His debut goal helped his team win the game and Kudos to the man for that. What can I say, I like his never say die attitude.

If you insist on pushing me to analyse the tactics of this game then all I have to say to you is that FC Pune City’s starting strategy was flawed. I think Platt tried to be too smart for his own good with the surprise selection of Verhoek in the centre forward position while Uche played as a wide second striker.

It nullified Uche in my opinion, even though it played to Verhoek’s strengths. I think it should’ve been the other way round with Uche being given the preference. Another tactical limitation of FC Pune City was that they wasted virtually every single corner.

Their corners would just never clear the first line of defence. They would unerringly hit the first man time and time again. It was evident that they haven’t been practicing defending freekicks or attacking freekicks much. What a pity because I like their brand of possession football.

Delhi Dynamos FC showed excellent attacking and defending skills in the game. They even managed the fame wonderfully, grabbing a goal in the end. Delhi Dynamos are defying my doom and gloom prediction. I hope they continue because their success heartens me and ensures that I remain humble because being right too often is just a bit too cheeky, eh?


FC Pune City vs. Delhi Dynamos FC Preview

FC Pune City vs. Delhi Dynamos FCWell folks, I get a chance to do a preview today. I don’t only have a chance but, “by golly, I’m actually gonna do it! Goes to show, what a single email from a reader can do.

In any case, let’s get onto the review. This one’s for the match between FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos FC, as if you didn’t know that (a forehead slapping moment that). Yesterday, fate gave Kerala Blasters FC to prove me wrong in my early season prediction but they were found wanting. A good deal of the season is left, so they’ll have more of a chance.

FC Pune City to Win!

Today, it’s the turn of Delhi Dynamos FC to prove me wrong. They’ve won one and lost one. Their win against Chennaiyin FC was scrappy and not all that flattering to say the least. They can really underscore their presence in the Indian Super League 2015 season with a win today. It would take them to the third spot on the table you see.

On the other side, FC Pune City have a chance to go top which I think they will. This is also a game in which I have a feeling that they’ll truly let lose their attacking football.

I like how FC Pune City plays too in comparison to Delhi Dynamos FC’s game. Delhi Dynamos FC, forgive me citymates, play like a team in dire straits. FC Pune City’s game is all about possession and that kind of game I really, really like. For this reason, I predict a win for FC Pune City by two goals to none!

I’m keeping this preview short and sweet. In my defence, at least, I got here.