NorthEast United and Jamshedpur played out the second goalless draw, in as many games, of the ISL season despite both teams hitting the woodwork. NE were the dominant side throughout the game and missed a host of chances after Andre Bikey was sent off for a high boot in the 78th minute.
Jamshedpur show us football from a bygone era?
Playing their first game of the ISL, Jamshedpur transported fans to an era of football that not many remember. Not the 1990s, not even the 1950s. The team looked like a bunch of amateurs, from the 1920s, playing football for the first time in their lives – running around like headless chicken. Their shape, which was supposed to be a 4-3-3, disappeared as soon as they got off the team bus in Guwahati. Apart from Sameehg Doutie and Subrata Pal, the team looked like a bunch of kids lost and overwhelmed by the occasion – despite having 10 players with ISL experience in their starting XI.
The entire team’s passing accuracy was 43.2% while their midfielders, Mehtab Hossain (58%), Emerson Moura (51%), and Trindade Goncalves (31%), showed no signs of composure throughout the game. Coppell eventually had to pull off both Mehtab and Goncalves in the 67th minute. When they did manage to get the ball into the final third, they missed absolute sitters. At the back, it wasn't any better. Tiri, who had a great season with ATK last year, and Anas, who has been exceptional for the Indian team, had 11 and 7 clearances respectively but at no point of time did they look comfortable. If Coppell doesn’t get it right soon, because their opponents will, it could turn out to be a disastrous debut season for the team from Jharkhand.
While the refereeing in the ISL has never been at a standard that would make the league proud, it has never been as poor as it was at the Indira Gandhi Stadium today. The referee made a hash of the match, spotting non-existent handballs while refusing freekicks that could have easily demanded a card. This resulted in a start-stop game as the referee blew his whistle an astonishing 31 times during the game but handed out only three cards. To be fair though, he did get the red card spot on. If a player decides to go into a tackle, for a ball near an opponent’s head, with his studs showing, he should start walking off without looking at the referee. The ISL is trying to build a brand for itself and such officiating is not the way forward for the league.
Style over substance could prove to be team’s downfall
They say that football is the easiest game to play. The much fabled Tiki-Taka that the Spanish team played, was so easy on the eye because there was no flash to it. It was just eleven guys playing the game with as much simplicity as humanly possible. Too many times today, it was the case of players trying to be too cute with the ball and it resulted in far a number of turnovers that is unacceptable in a professional football game.
To be fair, NorthEast did get it right in the second half as they tried to pass their way into the Jamshedpur final third and the results were there to be seen. It was a shame that the strikers failed to capitalize on the chances that they created - out of the 13 shots that they had on the Jamshedpur goal only four were on target. NorthEast will look back at this game only to think about what could have been had they played in the same manner from the first whistle.
There could only be one real hero today – the fans. Literally, every ball that crossed the halfway line was cheered by the by the fans in Guwahati who seemed to be having a blast despite their team hoofing the ball in the first half. Whether it was something said in the dressing room at half-time or the support that the players felt from the fans, the hosts did turn their performance around in the second half. The fact the fans in attendance did not see a single goal in the game was the biggest disappointment of the game. But, just as Kerala did yesterday, Guwahati showed that they can well and truly be the twelfth-man for their team yet again this season.
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