ISL 2020-21 gameweek 1 talking points: Igor Angulo, Roy Krishna show quality, Hyderabad FC impress and more
All teams except new entrants SC East Bengal played a match in the first gameweek of Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season. Here are the talking points
All teams except new entrants SC East Bengal played a match in the first gameweek of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season. Previous season's finalists ATK Mohun Bagan and Chennaiyin FC were off to a winning start. The previous season's two bottom placed teams NorthEast United and Hyderabad FC also clinched victories. Two of the most consistent sides in the league – FC Goa and Bengaluru FC – met in the first week and shared the spoils.
Here are the talking points from the first gameweek:
New season off to an expected start
Antonio Habas' ATK Mohun Bagan are one of the favourites to clinch the title this season because they have got the quality in their ranks. And it is because of one of those qualities – namely Roy Krishna – they were able to secure a victory in the opening game against Kerala Blasters. As expected, it was a scrappy match. Players were involved in a competitive football match after many months and with no proper pre-season to show. To their credit, the intensity was there and there was not much to talk about the game apart from the goal that proved to be the difference. Krishna, like he has done so many times in the past, reacted quickly to a loose ball and followed with a clinical left-footed finish in the 67th minute.
Blasters dominated the possession but never really threatened to score a goal. Though Sahal Abdul Samad should've done a lot better with his two chances from inside the box. There's plenty of scope for both the teams to improve but Habas and his side will be happy to take the win. The match could've been a drab draw if not for Krishna's finish and this is the benefit of having proven and quality players - grinding out the wins from imperfect games.
NorthEast United and Hyderabad FC impress
It's just one match but both NorthEast and Hyderabad, who finished ninth and 10th last season, showed why they will not be mere pushovers for other so-called big clubs. Gerard Nus' NorthEast overcame Sergio Lobera's Mumbai City FC and Manuel Marquez Roca's Hyderabad tasted success against Stuart Baxter's Odisha FC. Both games' scorelines reading 1-0 and both goals coming from penalties.
Lobera, with a new team this season, wanted to make a big statement in the first match but lost key player Ahmed Jahouh to a red card and then Kwesi Appiah scored from the spot after Rowllin Borges was deemed to have handled the ball inside the box. Mumbai, despite being a man down, pressed hard for an equaliser but couldn't breach NorthEast's defence. Nus' team showcased discipline and never lost their focus. Centre-backs Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox put out good performances but it was defensive midfielder Khassa Camara who was outstanding throughout the match. Camara was a bundle of energy, making four clearances, three successful tackles, two blocks and his passing accuracy was 75 percent.
Hyderabad FC never kept a cleansheet in the entire 2019-20 season. One game into the new campaign and they have not only kept a cleansheet but also dominated Odisha. Aridane Santana, who played for Odisha last season, scored from the penalty spot after Halicharan Narzary's effort struck defender Steven Taylor’s outstretched hand in the box. The match saw only one goal but Hyderabad could've scored more. Santana was a busy man in front of Odisha's goal and he should've done much better to keep his chances/headers on target. Apart from Santana, Indian youngsters Liston Colaco and Akash Mishra were mighty impressive. Liston came into the match in the 62nd minute as a second striker and ran riot. His entertaining cameo definitely deserved a goal.
Odisha were missing a few key players like Vinit Rai, Jerry Mawihmingthanga and foreigners Cole Alexander and Jacob Tratt. Once these players come in, Odisha will improve but Baxter has a lot of work to do with the team.
Igor Angulo delivers the goals
Plenty of discussions took place about whether FC Goa can replace their superstar and ISL's top goal-scorer Coro who left the club and the league after last season. Igor Angulo may or may not take the league by storm like Coro but he certainly has made a big impact in his first match. He scored two goals in a span of just four minutes to ensure Goa take a point from the match after going 0-2 down. His movements, positioning and finishing were top class against Bengaluru. Though both the teams shared the points, Juan Ferrando will be the happier of the managers. Brandon Fernandes' performance after he came in the second half would've also pleased the head coach.
Bengaluru took advantage of some terrible defending from Goa and looked set to clinch all the points until they crumbled. In fact, Carles Cuadrat's team were defending well till Angulo broke the shackles. Last season, Bengaluru conceded just 13 goals, the lowest among all the teams. Watertight defence is what defined them for so long so Cuadrat would be hoping that the way his team conceded two in quick time is more of an aberration than a sign of things to come.
Thapa earns plaudits
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) November 24, 2020
No goals from Indian footballers in the first four matches of the new season and then Chennaiyin FC's Anirudh Thapa needed less than a minute to score the opening goal against Jamshedpur. What a brilliant finish it was! Yes, he was left free to run and score from inside the box but it still needed a good hit, and replays only made it look better. That strike aside, he was a livewire in the midfield, showing intent going forward and also doing the defensive duties. Rafael Crivellaro, who made an impact last season, also played a stellar role for Chennaiyin in their opening game. The match itself was fun to watch, both Chennaiyin and Jamshedpur enjoyed good chances but in the end, Csaba Laszlo's team took all the points with a 2-1 win.