ISL Analysis | Kerala churn out a dramatic draw in Chennai

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ISL Analysis | Kerala churn out a dramatic draw in Chennai

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SportsCafe Desk


Kerala Blasters came back from the death to snatch a late, late equalizer at the Marina Arena through CK Vineeth as the Southern derby ended 1-1 on a dramatic note. Chennaiyin FC will kick themselves for their callous defending as they failed to retain the lead after going ahead in the 89th minute.

Has Kerala Blasters finally got their structure right?

Kerala didn’t start the campaign in the best of ways with three draws against Atletico de Kolkata, Jamshedpur FC, and Mumbai City FC and followed it up with a 5-2 hammering by FC Goa. The perception of a compact defence that the two-time finalists had established in the first three games was completely shattered by Sergio Lobera’s side.

However, Rene Meulensteen came up with a solid response against NorthEast United, when Wes Brown’s influence was first felt. The former Manchester United player was deployed in the two-man midfield but was used as an extra centre-half between Sandesh Jhinghan and Nemanja Lakic-Pesic when absorbing opponent’s counter attack. It was exactly the same tactics today against Chennaiyin FC.

Maintaining a highline, anything within 18 yards of their penalty box was dealt with the trio immediately as the congested central defence forced Chennaiyin to pass it to the wings for crosses time and again. However, the trio has been so efficient in defence with 23 clearances among them that Chennai could hardly get a touch of the ball in the Kerala box. Chennai put as many as 17 crosses throughout the game and managing just 6 shots on target.

ISL’s refereeing standards go lower every game

The fourth edition of ISL has surely started on a negative note as it has come to limelight more for its poor officiating rather than the quality of football. The IPL has organized workshops for referees ahead of the new season and it is high time the governing body of Indian football should explore such avenues to improve its refereeing standards.

Not only have terrible refereeing decisions seen matches going all haywire and outcomes completely against the flow of play, but we but we have also come across field officials who were simply unable to maintain discipline on the field, with a game seeing as many as 43 fouls last week. Chennai and Kerala looked like it would end as a stalemate after the first-half with neither of the sides looking dangerous in the attacking third.

With 90 minutes almost over, both the sides had almost settled for it mentally when the referee pulled out a massive blunder. Chennai’s Francisco Fernandes had a shot on goal that was well blocked by Sandesh Jhingan with his chest but to everyone’s surprise, the referee awarded a penalty. The centre-half was also given a yellow card in the process. It was total bedlam at the Marina Arena as Kerala were seeing all their hard work go in vain. However, the visitors found a very late equalizer to Rene Mihelic’s spot kick at the end to get the result they deserved. 

The Showstopper

Sandesh Jhingan had a field day yet again with hardly any ball going past his way inside Kerala’s goal. The defensive leader has been absolutely unshakeable at the back with his forte to producing impeccable tackles in the most fragile of areas in and around the penalty box. Chennai could have just six attempts on goal despite having over 60% possession most of the game and the central defender was the main reason for it.

He made a whopping 14 clearances today decimating innumerable Chennai attacks even before they could mature into a threat. And the fact that he committed just 2 fouls in all of it just shows his ability to time his lunges and read the game. He was the constant link to Wes Brown, who was the deep lying midfielder, on Kerala’s counter with 60% accuracy.

In the second half when the yellow army looked more a threat, Jhingan even went ahead and created two chances that ended in close shaves. And finally, when Chennai looked to have sealed the win from what seemed to be Jhingan’s fault, he went to give a cross from inside the box to an unmarked CK Vineeth, who had to simply tap in at the 93rd minute to get the equalizer.

Otamendi or Adam Smith? Who will make more tackles?

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