NEROCA FC and Gokulam Kerala FC played a 1-1 tie in their I-League clash at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium yesterday. Boaringdao Bodo opened the scoring for the visitors on the 45th minute while Eduardo Ferreira equalised for the hosts to ensure their first points this season. This is Gokulam’s first point against NEROCA ever.
TalkSports 24×7 will be focusing on the top five talking points from this match:
1) Ex-NEROCA man starting season against former team:
Pritam Singh was a part of NEROCA’s last season’s success as thr runners-up of I-League, emerging from 2nd division for the first time. He moved to the Malabarians this season and made an amazing start to his season. Playing against his former club, Pritam was focused on the match and ready to give in a hard fight. He was running relentlessly down the flanks, switching side when needed to. He did his duty too, when his team needed him to fall back during the Highlanders’ attacks. On the 45th minute, he produced an amazing through ball which was converted to a nail on a coffin as Boaringdao Bodo slot past home to give the visitors the lead. Looking at the other side, it was a foul by Pritam on Ronald, that led to a curling free kick by Subhash Singh that saw Y. Metei put it on a platter for Malembgamba who in turn slipped it towards goal only for Eduardo Ferreira to slot in and equalise.
2) Expectations from Antonio German not yet fulfilled:
The English star was brought into the side with great expectations replacing Henry Kisseka, who is now playing for the Mariners. A few years ago, everyone noticed Antonio German in Indian Super League doing wonders for Kerala Blasters FC. His trademark skills and power of game reading made him the key player for the Blasters. The Keralites expect a lot from him. It would be obvious for anyone to expect him to be the playmaker as well as scoring goals. German couldn’t fulfill those expectations, maybe due to a little lack in fitness. It has just been two matches, but the whole of India and especially the Gokulam fans are looking forward to see more of this man.
3) Gokulam not looking the same as last season:
Last season, Bino George stunned Indian football as his side went on to defeat champions Minerva Punjab and the two Kolkata giants- East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. Gokulam Kerala played a superb attacking football last season, whereas this season, it seems they are playing ultra defensively, completely relying on counter attacks. Focusing on breakthrough from the two wings and concentrating on set pieces, this side is not being able to gift football that our eyes would love inspite of sharpening the attacking edge. This has been a main concern for Gokulam’s not-so-convincing start to the season. Although last season also their start was poor but they were underdogs back then. As backed and foretold by many as the probable I-League champions this season, lot more is expected from the Kerala side.
4) NEROCA forwards failing to score:
NEROCA has lost five from six points in their first two games of the season. Losing points at home can cost at the end of marathon leagues. NEROCA’s attacking force being one of the best in India is still struggling to score. With Felix Chidi, Naorem Tongdomba Singh and Subhash Singh up front, the Imphal based side is expected to play of a high scoring tie. Opposing the expectations, their only goal has come from their centre back Edu Ferreira courtesy of a set piece. Manuel Fraile will be looking forward to repair the problems up front and start the next match as a fresh one.
5) Ronald Singh is the rising star:
Born in Manipur, 21 year old Ronald Singh Saikhom’s youth career started at NEROCA FC. He joined their senior team in 2015 when they were a part of 2nd division I-League. He was a part of the team which won the 2nd division to be promoted to the top division in 2016-17 season. He had always been the super sub for the Manipuri side last season, scoring against Gokulam in the 96th minute on his debut, Chennai City in the 77th minute on his second match. Either assisting or scoring, Ronald became a first choice slowly. Starting the game today, Ronald showed his talent, completely covering the right flank for his team. In an evenly scrappy match, he was the one outshining the rest. He did exactly what his gaffer wanted him to do- snatching balls in the midfield, feeding them to the forwards and falling back when defense was taking pressure. He would be happy with his performance, though a win would have made him happier. A perfect man of the match, Ronald will be looking forward to show more class and gain experience as the league continues.