As of now, the one thing that Indian Super League desperately needs is RIVALRY. There is no match where the passions run high and the tackles fly higher. I think a little bit of rivalry will add a lot to this league and I think there’s only two ways this can happen. The first is that the Bollywood owners of teams start fighting and making camps. It’s a bit lame a la Edward and Jacob camps amongst teenagers but it’s an option that I think can work. The other is that one or two tasty scuffles and tackles get repeated amongst the teams concerned.
3 teams are the likely candidates in my book and two of them are playing today. The third, as you’ve most probably already guessed, is FC Pune City. However, when it comes to seeds for rivalry, I doubt there’s any better soil for tilling than the one in Mumbai and Goa*. They are ready for some knuckle busting and ball bursting desire, me thinks.
Today’s Game Mumbai City FC vs. FC Goa
Today’s game itself was an interesting one. On one side, you had Mumbai City FC who could have gone top of the league** because of the Bermuda Triangle of Draws*** that we’re stuck in.
They needed a win to achieve it and they chose to continue with Nicolas Anelka (The Great Sulk) to help them achieve it. On the other side, you had FC Goa who I have a feeling are ready for the great climb up the table. Their players were riding high while Robert Pires was to ride rough tackles****.
They would want to keep their momentum. This sets up a very interesting encounter. I don’t need to tell you that I’ll be supporting FC Goa now that their football style meets my expectations.
An interesting titbit for you –Nicolas Anelka and FC Goa’s Santos and Pires have all played for the Gunners in the past but never together.
Nicolas Anelka and Robert Pires Shine In First Half
FC Goa did start brightly in this game, despite being the away team. At the same time, Nicolas Anelka looked very sharp. The 35 year old striker was faster than the younger Indian players. Remember, this is a French player playing in foreign conditions and being faster than the locals.
Shows how Indian football lacks in terms of fitness and conditioning training. The game was end to end and played at a breath-taking speed. The first interesting moment came for Mumbai. Started with a miscue from a player off a cross and ended with a couple of corners being accompanied by a scramble.
They continued to dominate for the rest of the half as well even though Goa took little bites off them whenever they could. Best chance of the game also fell to Mumbai City FC. Didika ran into the Goa box and was found by a wonder of a ball. Seda, the Goa keeper, managed to save the good shot by Didika. All through the 45 minutes, FC Goa were second best in terms of their attacking numbers. However, statistically speaking, this team happens to be the most attacking in Indian Super League. So, a first half of multiple turnovers, slight Mumbai domination, a frustrated Nicolas Anelka and Andre Moritz, and no goals.
Goa Show Class but No Goals
The second half continued the trends from the first half. Goa defending well and trying the smash and grab technique while Mumbai going to Moritz in the middle or Nicolas Anelka in the wings to make a difference.
Mumbai, however, were getting the better chances this time, though. By the way, Andre Santos, who was criticised at Arsenal for his Teletubbiness looked fit here. Is it just me or does anyone else think that Santos has fallen hopelessly in love with the chip pass? He kept trying it. It didn’t matter if he was in the defensive third or the offensive third, he kept trying it.
For all you know, he tries it every morning on the pot after brushing and before bathing. Also, Gabriel Fernandes of Goa won the Oscar for best acting in that game. I swear he flopped around so well that he gave dying fishes an inferiority complex.
In the 67th minute, Zico’s defensive nature imposed itself. He had to take of Robert Pires because he can’t last the full 90 minutes but, in his place, he brought on Fakhruddin Amiri of Afghanistan. Amiri is a defensive player who can play in midfield and defence both. He did add bite to FC Goa’s game, even though they didn’t need any more. He was all over the place after he came on.
A Period of Intense Action
There was a period around the 80th minute when FC Goa won three corners in quick succession and almost scored from one. Mumbai struck back through Moritz who cracked the crossbar with an angry shot.
FC Goa jabbed right back through Tolgay Ozbey who shook the bottom of the Mumbai keeper’s goal post. You could see how the end to end first half affected the second half. The teams looked tired, passes were slower, and there were gaps all over the pitch for players to exploit.
The last ten minutes were especially full of action. FC Goa got another chance as Goa’s right winger, Romeo, twisted and turned in Mumbai’s box before getting a good near post shot off.
So, that was the second match. Mumbai huffed and puffed but it was FC Goa that deserved the win in my opinion. They look good on the evidence of their last two games. I think they will climb the table in the coming weeks.
*Wouldn’t have happened if Freddie Ljungberg was playing for Mumbai. He and Pires played together for Arsenal for 6 years and had a very good relationship. When you’re Invincibles together, there’s no way that you’ll be part of a tiff.
**Mumbai City FC is now the third team in the last week to have tried to unseat Atletico De Kolkata and failed. The other two were Chennaiyin FC and FC Pune City
*** We’ve now had 8 draws in the last 10 games of ISL.
****He’s stated that Indian players are trying to be like the ogres from Stoke City. I agree. Our players must stop being ogres or, at the very least, be their own style of ogres. Indian Shrek anyone? Wallowing in the mud won’t show on him. If sad ass shows like Shaktiman can be made, Swachh Shrekwa also deserves a chance!