ISL Analysis | A rejuvenated NorthEast side exploit wasteful Delhi

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ISL Media

ISL Analysis | A rejuvenated NorthEast side exploit wasteful Delhi

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Subhayan Dutta


NorthEast FC United managed to get their first win of the season as they beat Delhi Dynamos 2-0 in Delhi, riding on an inspiring display from young winger Halicharan Narzary. Delhi, however, only have themselves to blame after they squandered numerous second-half chances to get back in the game.

Can one man make a difference?

Despite being a team sport, football has often seen outstanding individuals having tremendous influence on a particular game. Saturday saw a similar effect on the NorthEast United side when coach Joao Carlos Pires de Deus decided to start with Halicharan Narzary for a change, promoting him from the impactful super-sub role.

The Highlanders have had a terrible start to the season, which saw Chennaiyin FC thrashing them 3-0 after they had opened the campaign with frustrating 0-0 draw against Jamshedpur.  NorthEast finally saw the spark today, which had been missing so far, through Narzary. For all the style and composure they had, the end product was a huge dilemma for the Highlanders that the national forward brought to the table. His electrifying presence forced Marcinho and Adilson Goiano to look for him at every opportunity, and the 23-year-old never let them down.

Delhi found him extremely difficult to stop due to his exquisite first touches. Narzary created two chances, of which one ended up at the back of the net while the other game dangerously close. He chipped in 5 crosses, and if not for his side’s patchy defence those could have reaped fruits of his labour.

NorthEast’s defence remain poor as ever

This brings us to our second point of the game. While their free-flowing attack has been a treat to watch, their manager would be seriously worried about his toothless defence. In Sambinha and Jose Goncalves, the Highlanders have two sturdy and pacey centre-halves, but they have been hugely shaky to put it mildly.

While their passing has been decent in the defensive third with an average accuracy of 72%, it is their ability to deal with aerial duels or cope with incessant counter attacks that has remained the question. While they might have won the game tonight, it was Delhi who dominated most of the game and the numbers don’t look too flattering. The defensive duo had 0 interceptions in the entire game, and although Goncalves made amends for it by taking his clearances tally to 8 by some scrappy play, Sambinha could only manage three.

Their sloppiness was evident in the 23rd minute when Jeoren Lumu was allowed to collect an easy ball from the cross with no trouble whatsoever by Sambinha. Ten minutes later Lumu got the ball through the legs of the defenders to show the lax defensive display that the visitors were putting up. If it wasn’t for TP Rehnesh, NorthEast would be down by a goal in the first-half itself.  Kalu Uche, too, was denied from point blank range just before half-time.

The other side of Albino Gomes

Last year Mumbai City FC put up one of the best defensive performances Indian football has ever seen, conceding just eight goals during the entire league season. Two of those came when Albino Gomes was in goal behind the central defensive pairing of Gerson Vieira and Lucian Goian. The second of those games in the dying minutes of the “Maha” derby where Gomes dropped a high ball right on the feet of Eugeneson Lyngdoh. That proved to be the last game that he ever played for Mumbai, who decided not to for re-sign the Indian after the last season.

In 2017 it was Delhi who decided to give the keeper a shot in their team knowing fully well the problems that come along with the youngster. Today was a perfect example of his error-prone issues. NorthEast had taken an early lead through Marcinho and before they could regroup and try to launch a fightback, Gomes committed his first major error of the season so far. He failed to clear a simple back pass and it resulted in the visitors doubling their lead and the hosts plunging into even more trouble. He had an great game against Bengaluru last week, despite conceding  four goals, but it is his inconsistency that would be a concern for the Dynamos.

The Showstopper

If NorthEast’s score line of 2-0 against Delhi looked one-sided in any way, Rehnesh has to be given credit for it. Unlike his counterpart on the other end of the field, Albino Gomes, Rehnesh was absolutely breathtaking in Delhi Dynamos’ den, denying them chances repetitively, some of which should have ended in the back of the net under any other circumstance.

He faced three shots on goal and saved all of them exhibiting heroic commitment. Though his passing accuracy hasn’t been good, he made sure NorthEast got the three points they were in desperate need of today. If that wasn’t enough, he even saw a yellow card for his time-wasting antics in the closing minutes. 

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