A collective shambolic performance from Chennaiyin FC bought them a deserved defeat for the second time this ISL, against the Delhi Dynamos. The manager, defence and attack are all to blame for this result.
Siam Hanghal's horror show and collective failure
Chennaiyin had the first chance in the game, courtesy a foul on David Succi on the sixth minute. But the visitors contrived as a team to present the first glorious opportunity to the Delhi Dynamos in the 15th minute. Siam Hanghal, who has impressed in the past few games, decided to dally on the ball. Richard Gadze, the Ghanaian footballer, pressed the youngster, with the alert Florent Malouda around. The ball was won, Malouda took off with acres of space in front of him. The retreating defence made it all the more easier for him to take a shot from just outside the box. Karanjit Singh, parried the effort well, but straight onto the path of Richard Gadze, who continued his run. One individual error of judgement and the back five's collective inaction contributed to Karanjit Singh conceding his first ever goal this ISL.
The pattern repeated itself for the second. Siam Hanghal was still running back from the halfway line when Florent Malouda had acres of space to receive a long ball. His first touch, meant to find Richard Gadze, but Eli Sabia was at hand to intercept it. But his touch was poor and favourable to the energetic Gadze who quickly laid the ball to the advancing Malouda. The veteran French international neatly curved the ball around Bernard Mendy - blindsighting the goalkeeper to earn his first ever goal in ISL.
The entire Chennaiyin team simply failed to show up in the first 30 minutes. The legs seemed too tired and they seemed to have no desire against the constant pressing of the home team. It took a marauding Bernard Mendy run to instigate some fire into the bellies of the Chennaiyin attackers. The centre back played an innocuous pass to Raphael Augusto, moved tentatively forward, received the ball back and ran literally unopposed into the penalty area. His shot was not even blocked properly as he beat the keeper Toni Doblas comfortably at the near post. The 51 percent possession for Chennaiyin FC at the end of first half was flattering, considering the majority of it came after Mendy's goal. That the captain, from back at the defence, should show the way for the clueless midfielders of Chennaiyin FC was indeed showing them in poor light.
Siam Hanghal being the first to be substituted at halftime, was very much expected. But Marco Materazzi already seemed to throw the kitchen sink, introducing Jeje Lalpekhlua in his place. Jeje may have had an instant impact in the 48th minute, chesting down for David Succi to set up Baljit Sahni, whose shot was well wide. But two minutes later, as another Chennaiyin attack came to nothing, the Delhi attack broke threateningly leaving both Hans Mulder and Raphael Augusto far behind. Though the attack came to nothing then, it indicated of things to come. The reasoning might have been the need for a goal, but he did have an option in Harmanjyot Singh Khabra to maintain the formation and try better.
The next to be replaced was Baljit Sahni, more on him later, by the totally unknown youngster Uttam Rai. Marco Materazzi surely has something for trying out youngsters at the most inopportune moment, hoping for them to lead a fightback or protect a lead (read Jerry against ATK) on their first appearance. The team's collective performance was taking a hit and when experience was the need of the hour, out came an youngster.
Finally, John Arne Riise came in for Dudu Omagbemy to let Bernard Mendy play upfront. The gamble might have paid off, considering Mendy had scored his customary goal for the third consecutive ISL season. But it backfired spectacularly and much to the embarrassment of John-Arne Riise, Chennaiyin conceded almost immediately from a set-piece. Mehrajuddin Wadoo gifted a corner to the home team with an aimless header and Jerry Lalrinzuala forgot his role at the post to let Florent Malouda round off a spectacular evening.
Square pegs in round holes
Baljit Sahni, who has so far always featured on the right, started on the left wing much to the amazement of everyone. He completed a mere 19 passes in his 59 minutes. Dudu on the other wing was trying hard, but he doesn't have the leg of a winger. What was baffling was that in spite of the wingers on opposite wings not working, it took until the 43rd minute for them to swap positions. Even more intriguing was that back in the second half, the aberration was restored.
The effect of this was obvious on Raphael Augusto. During the first half he tried his best to bring both the wingers into play. But he soon realised it didn't work and tried to do too much by himself. The result was that every Chennaiyin attack was slowed down and the final ball never happened.
It was an absolutely bizarre game for the Chennaiyin FC who usually are tactically astute. The manager, Marco Materazzi, should take the blame deservedly for this excuse of a performance. Considering that this is only the second defeat in eight games may be a saving grace, but it may not take long for the other teams to figure out that pressing hard might be the way to knock Chennaiyin of their perch.