Lots and Lots of Signings: Josep Gombau, Iain Hume, Gerson Vieira, Mourtada Fall, Robin Singh

Do you know what the problem with East Bengal (and Mohun Bagan) is? They have this high opinion of themselves that is based on nothing but tradition. Neither of these clubs has performed well in the last decades barring one-off titles here or there. Other much poorly funded teams from hitherto unknown footballing parts of the country and overshadowed them. And, they still think they can call the shots… Continue reading

The Gaurs vs. MCFC Preview

Cellar Dwellers Hope for a Win in the Maharashtra Derby

Mumbai City FC will travel to The Gaurs’ Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa in the hopes of avenging their defeat in the return leg held earlier in the season. The game will be notable because it is important to both the teams for opposite reasons. For MCFC, this game is important because a win will see them claim the top spot of the Indian Super League table, albeit temporarily. On the other end, a win for FC Goa is important because it will see them climb off the bottom of the table.

The Gaurs’ Strategy and Form

the-gaurs-robin-singhThe Gaurs are coming into this game after a very heartening win. In their last game against NorthEast United FC, they clinched a stoppage time winner, despite being one man down. That win is sure to give The Gaurs a very important shot in the arm considering the circumstances in which it came.

Even with that win and the morale boost it may bring, FC Goa may not be able to stop the rot. They’ve been languishing at the bottom of the table and are barely keeping their hopes of a 2016 semi-final spot alive. Statistics clearly reveal that The Gaurs have been hanging by the skin of their teeth.

This is a team that has conceded the most goals in the league (14) and has scored the second fewest goals (8). This gives FC Goa the worst goal difference of -6 in the league. A more revelatory fact is that The Gaurs have racked up most losses in the league (6 of 10).

The Gaurs’ hopes will rest on slight advantages. In fact, it will be all about psychology for FC Goa. Robin Singh, their current striker, scored his first goal in the last game while Romeo Fernandes, who is possibly their most creative force, has only started showing flashes of brilliance now. More crucially, their first win of the season came against MCFC, something that Zico, their manager, is sure to remind them in his pre-match team talk.

MCFC’s Strategy and Form

mcfc-sunil-chhetriZico’s counterpart, Alexandre Guimares will try very hard to undersell that loss to his players. To be honest, it shouldn’t be all that hard for Mumbai City FC to do that. They’ve been playing fairly well and now have all their key players available. Moreover, even though they lost their last game, it was in controversial fashion. In essence, their last game’s loss was undeserved.

In fact, there’s a lot for MCFC players to play for in this game. A win will take them top of the table. They can actually avenge their unlikely defeat at the hands of The Gaurs, earlier in the season. The best bit is that they’re playing a Goa team that has been struggling all season long for form.

MCFC even has incredibly creative, effective, and exciting players. In their last game, they started extremely creative and dynamic players such as Diego Forlan (their marquee), Matias Defederico (a very versatile and dangerous attacker), Leo Costa (another creative force), and Sunil Chhetri (the iconic Indian national striker). This list doesn’t even include the leading assister in the league, Sony Norde. Norde has 4 assists in the league.

Such is the riches available to Guimares that he chose to not start Norde in their last game. Any of these five players is capable of dismantling any ISL team singlehandedly and each of them is in good form.

Which Way Will the Surf Flow in the Maharashtrian Beach Derby

So, don’t be surprised if all media outlets and football experts in the world peg MCFC for a win over The Gaurs. That’s what we’re doing too. We predict a win for MCFC with a two-goal margin simply because their attacking combos are scary and The Gaurs’ defence is leaky. If you’re looking for a score line, go for either a 3-1 or 2-0 for Mumbai City FC. We also predict a start for Sony Norde and expect him to serve up another assist or goal in this game.

Delhi Capture Homeboy Robin Singh!

The prodigal son has returned!

After a long wait, Robin Singh will be plying his trade in his hometown. No doubt, his parents, who are massive football fans, will be happy their star of a son will come home to play with Delhi Dynamos FC

Delhi Dynamos FC Turn Ashes to Diamond with Robin Singh’s Capture

Delhi Dynamo FC's Robin Singh

Time to play for Hometown Club

It was a topsy-turvy day as auction days have been known to be. This was especially true for Delhi Dynamos FC who has lost out on their bid for Sunil Chhetri to Mumbai City FC earlier. They had bid Rs 1.15 crore for Chhetri before Mumbai bid with Rs 1.20 crore.

However, they had a backup plan and it involved winning the signature of hometown football star Robin Singh.

Robin Singh, as explained earlier, is a beast of a striker whose specialty is using his physical stature to bully defenders. He is a good header of the ball and can hold it up on the ground as well.

Holding the ball up in the striker position can bring wingers and midfielders into play as they will look to make darting runs behind Robin Singh. Robin Singh will no doubt look to feed his teammates as Roberto Carlos will most probably also set his fullbacks to bomb into forward positions.

Not Many Bids for Robin Singh

The surprising factor with Robin Singh’s auction was that there weren’t many bids for India’s second favourite striker. The only team vying for Robin Singh against Delhi Dynamos FC was Kerala Blasters FC.

Kerala Blasters FC, smarting from their loss of Iain Hume to Atletico De Kolkata, took their bid to Rs 50 lakh before bowing out of the bidding process. In the end, it was strange that no other teams bid for Robin Singh since he is regarded as a talent in the Indian setup.

However, with all respect to Robin Singh, I don’t believe he is going to be able to make that much of a difference to the team he plays for, as I explained earlier. The other ISL teams seemed to have agreed with me and the final price for Robin Singh was an underwhelming Rs 51 lakh.

I do hope that Robin Singh makes a difference though. I like people with a fire in their belly and Robin Singh certain has the flame of R’hllor flowing through his veins. Expect him to give it his all. Who knows, he may improve to a level that no one though was possible before.

A Statement of Intent from Delhi Dynamos FC

Roberto Carlos for Delhi Dynamos FC

Roberto Carlos for Delhi Dynamos FC

Remember, this is a crucial capture for Delhi Dynamos FC simply because they’ve been late to the ISL squad preparation party.

While they’ve been lazing around and waiting to confirm a manager before signing key players, other teams have been active from the get go.

At the same time, when Roberto Carlos confirmed his role as marquee player manager for Delhi Dynamos FC, he specified that they’ll be looking to bid for Chhetri and Robin Singh. Even though they didn’t succeed with Chhetri, they struck gold with Robin Singh.

Delhi Dynamos FC’s signing of Robin Singh is also not surprising because Roberto Carlos specifically stated that he will look to bring Delhi players in to play for their city’s club. In addition to Robing Singh, Delhi Dynamos FC also brought in Anas Edathodika, who till now has been playing as a Central Defender in the I-League.

Roberto Carlos hasn’t been a very successful manager in his last two stints, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in India.

Sunil Chhetri And Robin Singh Join ISL: Is The Excitement Deserved?

From what I can see, the world of Indian Super League is abuzz with two pieces of news right now. The first is the signing of 84 players between 8 teams (41 retained and 23 acquired) and the other is the potential of seeing the Indian football ‘gods’ – Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh.

Sunil Chhetri & Robin Singh - the Warrior and the Rogue

Sunil Chhetri & Robin Singh – the Warrior and the Rogue

No, I will not be delving into which players have been  retained, which acquired, and how this team or that team is doing so well (you guys have fed enough on that cake and are now decadent Middle Eastern cake princes). However, after seeing fully grown boys and manly men swooning over Chhetri and Singh like they are Kama Sutra Queens, I’ve decided to delve a little deeper into the honeypot.

In case some of you are precognitive and have picked up on my leanings towards honey and bees today, I apologise. I recently had to take out a colony of wasps and my mind is buzzing with their screams of agony. So, bear with me as I exorcise my B’s and C’s by crossing some T’s and E’s.

Note: All bee jokes will bee accompanied by infamous (Buzzzzzinga!) from now on to ensure that you subliminally dream of bees tonight and develop a fondness for them (If all of you dream of Sheldon instead, I will not be held responsible but will be very much amused). The aim is to make you more concerned about how important bees are to the environment while you’re talking to people at socially sanctioned parties. (Issued in public interest by ‘Beelieve in Buzzzzzinga Non-Profit Organisation of Social Change at Parties)

Sunil Chhetri – The Busy-Bee

Let’s get the vital statistics out of the way. No, I won’t bee (Buzzzzzinga!) giving you a low down on Sunil Chhetri’s figure. We don’t want that kind of thing on this blog. Beesides (Buzzzzzinga!), not like the Indian girls watch much of football anyways. When I say vital statistics, I mean things like height and foot preference.

Sunil Chhetri is about 5’ 7’’ and prefers to use his right foot. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that he can’t head much, though. He has stung (Buzzzzzinga!) many teams by leaping above their defenders and scoring some great goals with his antennae.

You see, Sunil Chhetri has a huge leap on him. When in the right position, he can really take off of the ground. He has scored over some 6’ tall defenders as well in his career. So, you can expect Sunil Chhetri to score a few with his head in the upcoming edition of the Indian Super League.

Notably, he doesn’t only have the leap to reach the ball in the air but also good control to put it away. This means that he can often guide the ball from difficult situations into the net with his head. We didn’t see many goals of that kind in the last instalment of the Indian Super League.

This, according to me, was largely beecause (Buzzzzzinga!) defenders had more experience and pedigree than strikers in the last edition. I expect this trend to continue so, while Sunil Chhetri may score some headers, he’s not going to bee all that prolific.

Similar to Sunil Chhetri’s relatively short height being deceptive like the Venus flytrap (bee trap, beat rap, beer tap – take your pick) (Buzzzzzinga!) (Buzzzzzinga!) (Buzzzzzinga!), his preferred foot is also confusing for defenders. While he prefers to use his right foot, when the gameplay demands it, he can use his left to great effect too.

In fact, I will go on to say that his control over his wrong foot is slightly better than how effective most players’ wrong foot is. What all this means is that Sunil Chhetri has the potential to give us all the perfect hat trick i.e. left foot, right foot, and header.

Sunil Chhetri - On your marks

Sunil Chhetri – On your mark

Decent header of the ball and fair control with the wrong foot are just characteristics of Sunil Chhetri. They aren’t really his strength. His greatest strengths are his movement off the ball, his lightning pace, and his composure when on the ball.

Sunil Chhetri is an intelligent striker. He knows how to make the right runs and position himself. He also has the natural instinct of a striker which allows him to bee in the right honeycomb cell (Buzzzzzinga!) at the right time to receive the ball.

You combine these qualities with his lightning pace and you have a deadly combination. While pace, movement, and positioning are a striker’s best friends, they are not so good as to bring in goals. You need to network with finishing for that.

Just ask Jeje Lalpekhlua and Durga Boro what happened last season. They constantly got into promising positions but couldn’t finish the chance. If they’ve not been practicing their finishing this year, then I’m afraid they might bee stagnating and unlike honey in a pot, their talents won’t survive thousands of years.

Fortunately, Sunil Chhetri doesn’t suffer from this mar-malaise (Buzzzzzinga!). Sunil Chhetri has the composure required to finish chances off. Usually, if he gets into a decent position, he does a good job of putting the chance away. This, according to me, is why Sunil Chhetri is exciting all the fans.

Finally, Sunil Chhetri also looks like a good lad along with being a skilled player. He displays good sportsmanship. Consider what he did at 5:20 in the above video. He stole the ball from the United FC defender and scored but before he even celebrated he went and commiserated with the defender.

Interesting info: Sunil Chhetri’s mother played for the Nepal national football team. Talk about genes. The queen bee bred a footballer bee, eh?

Recommendation: I would like to see Sunil Chhetri with either Atletico De Kolkata or Chennaiyin FC. If he was any younger than 30, I would’ve said that he should go to FC Goa because Zico is the best coach in the league when it comes to developing players.

Robin Singh – The Worker Bee

Robeen Singh (I believe that’s how many people in Kolkata will pronounce his name, yes?) is five years younger than Sunil Chhetri at 25 years which means that he may develop a little more.

While Robeen Singh is not at the same level as Fernando Llorente (certainly not at the same level!), his style of play isn’t that different. At 6’ 1’’, he is a strong, burly lad, who brings a lot of physicality onto the pitch. He can bee a great target man for the club that gets him in the end.

One Step for Robin Singh... leap in weight for teammate

One Step for Robin Singh… leap in weight for teammate

While he may be able to hold the ball up fairly well, he hasn’t developed his interplay as much as he should have. There’s still time though in his career. It may even bee that his experience in the Indian Super League will help him progress.

Robeen Singh does have a very good shot on him. He is a player with a powerhouse of a left foot. When he hits a shot it stays hit whether on target or not. His shots can also be deceptive for keepers because he tends to have a quick, short back lift but still generates a lot of power in his shots. (Those of you swooning over this one: that was shots not shorts.)

At the same time, the problem with Robeen Singh is that he doesn’t hit the target all that often. He doesn’t even get into great positions all that often. This is the main reason why Robeen Singh’s strike rate isn’t very good.

He scored 10 goals in 42 for his first club East Bengal and that was in three seasons. In fact, there has been no improvement in his strike rate either because he scored 10 in 39 games for his last club Bengaluru FC. The only difference was that he took one season less to score those.

Interesting info: With Bengaluru FC, Robeen Singh has developed a tendency to get carded. In his first season with Bengaluru FC, Robeen Singh was yellow carded no less than 5 times in 23 appearances. In his last season, that number went up to 6 times in 16 games and he also managed to draw a red card out of the deck.

Recommendation: Because of his age, I want to see Robeen Singh playing under Zico. Failing that, I would like to see him receiving coaching from international level manager because it seems like he has untapped talent.

What’s The Verdict?

There’s a reason why these two players are considered to be two of the best in Indian football. If I was to sum them up I would say that Sunil Chhetri buzzes (Buzzzzzinga!) around defenders with intelligence and finishes chances with composure while Robeen Singh is a beeast (Buzzzzzinga!) of a striker who relies on his strength and power to get the right results.

I believe I have the bees (Buzzzzzinga!) out of my system now. One last conjecture: what would happen if all of us were bees (Buzzzzzinga!)? Well, for one, the environment would be fixed. However, the asthmatics would literally turn into super villains if that were to happen.

Most interestingly, if we were all bees (Buzzzzzinga!), Per Mertesacker wouldn’t know how to defend because his equipment will be blocked off by the stinger (one last time! All together now! Buzzzzzinga!).

I leave you with proof of my conjecture.