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Notes from the I-League 2020-21 [Round 13]

I-League 2020-21 Round 13
Record breaker: TRAU FC’s Khangembam Bidyashagar Singh becomes the first Indian to score consecutive hat tricks in the I-League.
Pic Courtesy: I-League

Bidyashagar Singh is a one-man strike force, Churchill Brothers defence have been breached, and Mason Robertson is a striker-cum-defender.

Wait, Churchill actually lost?

Just when we thought we had it all figured out, the footballing gods decided to play a trick on us.

Remember when we said Churchill Brothers has the I-League trophy in the bag? Yes, the Churchill Brothers who had gone 11 matches unbeaten and had a six-point gap at the top. Well, they just got their butts handed to them by Gokulam Kerala.

Things went downhill for the Red Machines in the fourth minute when defender Vanlalduatsanga provided a neat side-footed finish into his own net. The Ghanian duo of Dennis Antwi and Philip Adjah proceeded to toy with the Churchill defence from start to finish in the 3-0 win.

The Goan team now has two teams breathing down their necks – Gokulam and TRAU. With the sense of invincibility being shattered, the upcoming ties for the two-time champions looks dicey.

That’s the I-League for you. It’s isn’t over till the fat lady sings “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Khangembam Bidyashagar Singh sets the record straight

We got this one right from last week: Khangembam Bidyashagar Singh IS a baller.

The TRAU FC forward became the first Indian to score back-to-back hat tricks in the I-League in the 3-1 defeat of Real Kashmir. The last player to achieve this was Pedro Manzi in 2018/19.

Bidyashagar also became the second Indian to score two hat tricks in a season – Jeje Lalpekhlua held that distinction during his time at Pailan Arrows in 2010/11.

The lad took time out to dedicate the record to the former Indian Women’s Team forward, Prameshwori Devi.

I would like to dedicate this record to my family, and to Prameshwori Devi, who was my first coach back in my childhood days. She herself was playing for the Indian Women’s Team back in those days, and she is an absolute inspiration for me.” 

Now, that’s a nice touch don’t you think?

For the record, the absolute monster of scoring hat tricks in the I-League is the one and only Odafa Onyeka Okolie. Between 2007-2010, the former Churchill Brothers striker, scored three hat tricks in three consecutive seasons – including a double hat trick in a single match!

The Nigerian Okolie scored a total of 13 hat tricks in his tenure in the I-League. Ah! The good ol’ days when the league had the Nigerian brigade ruling the scoring charts.

The record for most number of hat tricks scored in an I-League season? Four. The name of that player? Albert Einstein. Pedro Manzi.

Aizawl is safe from relegation but NEROCA on the other hand…

Aizawl FC’s 1-0 win over NEROCA secured safety for the former champions. Having narrowly missed out on the championship round, Yan Law’s men are on 18 points with a match in hand.

Chennai City’s 5-0 win over Indian Arrows has taken their tally to 12 points. NEROCA, on eight points, are staring down the barrel.

Consecutive losses mean that the Imphal team has to win their remaining matches, while hoping that their southern rivals slip up.

The two teams do face each other in the final match. The question is will Jockson Dhas dance to the tunes of Songpu Singsit?

Banned Mason Robertson gets unbanned

Common sense prevailed as the AIFF revoked the four-match suspension on Real Kashmir skipper, Mason Robertson.

Robertson, along with his father David, were suspended for four matches and fined Rs 2 lakh each for abusing the referee in “filthy vulgar language” during their I-League game against Indian Arrows.

However, his presence did not stop Bidyashagar from tearing the Real Kashmir defense to pieces.

Kudos to the PTI reporter who used up all the skills of the English language to come up with this line: “The four-match ban would have forced the RKFC striker-cum-defender to sit out their remaining four playoff games”.

Mason Robertson. Striker-cum-defender. Robertson-cum-Son of David. Hotel-cum-bar.

Six minutes of misery

It has all gone wrong for Punjab FC. Having lost to Gokulam last week, the 2017-18 champions were on track to narrow the gap on the league leaders in their match against Mohammedan.

Riding on Chencho Gyeltshen’s brace, Punjab looked comfortable to take the three points when they approached the hour mark.

Within six minutes it all went wrong. Punjab’s reliable goalkeeper, Kiran Limbu, let one slip underneath him, which opened the doors for two more goals. Soon the 2-0 score line read 2-3 in favor of the Kolkata team.

Mohammedan being Mohammedan allowed their opposition to score late in the match, but it was enough to dent Punjab’s slim hopes of winning the title.

The Goal-Scoring Ratio

It’s all about Bidyashagar Singh isn’t it? Nine goals in the last four matches has seen him sit on top of the goalscoring charts with 11 goals. Of course, his recent form will have East Bengal fans peddling their “East Bengal product” narrative.

So, here’s the lad reminding the world that he started his career at TRAU under the guidance of current assistant coach, KH Surmani.

His goals have helped the Indian goal scorers have begun to run away with the numbers as the overall tally after round 13 looks like this:

Foreign players – 79
Indian players – 88
Own goals – 5

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