ISL 2023-24 Matchweek 7: The Hits, Misses, Team of the Week

The seventh matchweek of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season wrapped up with FC Goa solidifying their place at the top of the table by securing a 1-0 victory against Jamshedpur FC at the Fatorda Stadium on November 27, Monday. Eight teams contested in the last three days, which included a double header Saturday, as the ISL action came back from an international break.

The Gaurs, Kerala Blasters FC, Mohun Bagan Super Giant, and Mumbai City FC occupy the top four spots in the standings, whereas Hyderabad FC and Punjab FC are at the 11th and 12th spots respectively as they are yet to secure their first win of the season. On that note, let us take a deep dive into the hits and misses of the previous matchweek as well as the fantasy strategy for the upcoming set of games. 

Chennaiyin FC 1 – 1 East Bengal FC

Hit: The Marina Machans unearthed a new gem in Ninthoinganba Meetei, 22, who bagged his first ISL goal of the season in the 86th minute to equalise and secure his side a point. The winger had netted only once in 53 league games across five seasons before this, but head coach Owen Coyle will be pleased with the maturity he showed inside the box to ensure they didn’t return from the game empty handed.

Miss: This is the third time that East Bengal FC took a lead, but failed to hold on to it and thus walked away with either a loss or a draw in this campaign. Carles Cuadrat has insisted on them showing greater defensive discipline, and the Red and Gold Brigade will have to buy into his strategy soon enough to avoid dropping such costly points moving forward. Further, Cuadrat continued searching for his first win against Coyle in the league, having locked horns with the Scotsman thrice, but failing to taste success even once till now. Moreover, despite certain struggles at the back, East Bengal FC keep things tidy at the back – with Ninthoinganba’s goal being the only one that they have conceded after the 80th minute of a match in this season.

Kerala Blasters FC 1 – 0 Hyderabad FC

Hit: Montenegrin centre-back Miloš Drinčić netted his first-ever ISL goal amidst a massive applause from the Manjappada as Kerala Blasters FC sneaked past Hyderabad FC with a 1-0 win in Kochi. The 24-year-old defender was industrious offensively, coming close to bagging a brace with another impressive effort at goal in the second half. Drinčić also became the second youngest international defender to score a goal in ISL history, after the Australian Patric Flottmann netted for NorthEast United FC against East Bengal FC in December 2021.

Miss: Hyderabad FC and their offensive woes furthered, with Thangboi Singto and his men having scored only four times in seven games so far. They have the second-worst shot conversion (6.8%) in the league presently and have recorded a 39% shooting accuracy thus far. The team will have to boost their numbers upfront in these areas to deliver better outputs. Hyderabad FC have played (3031) the third-most passes (excluding crosses) amongst all teams in the league in ISL 2023-23, which suggests that they have been engrossed in the build-up play, but those moves are not necessarily resulting in goal-scoring opportunities regularly.

NorthEast United FC 1 – 1 Bengaluru FC

Hit: Bengaluru FC talisman Sunil Chhetri was on target from the spot to hand his team a crucial lead in the 36th minute of an end-to-end encounter. The striker stepped up when it mattered, like he has done time and again, to convert the penalty and played an equally proactive role in the build-up play to round off a resounding return from the break. With his 59th strike in the ISL, Chhetri thus inched closer to equal former NorthEast United FC star Bartholomew Ogbeche (63) in the all-time goal scorers list of the league. The 39-year-old asserted at the start of the season that he does not want to be benched like he was last season and he is back to pulling off his heroics in style by already finding the back of the net thrice in five league appearances so far.

Miss: Aleksandar Jovanovic has been a pillar at the back for Simon Grayson, putting his body on the line, clearing consistently, spearheading the defence, and becoming an offensive force from set-pieces. However, he will regret that slight moment where the ball nicked off him into the back of his own net to draw the scores level, which prevented Bengaluru FC from notching an important win on the road. NorthEast United FC squandered a chance to notch the winner in the 81st minute, as Parthib Gogoi and his reluctance to pull the trigger and unleash a shot past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu allowed the India international goalkeeper enough time to dive down and collect the ball from underneath the forward’s feet. Gogoi has not scored in the last four games after netting once each in the first three games of the campaign.

FC Goa 1 – 0 Jamshedpur FC

Hit: Spanish midfielder Victor Rodriguez handed a selection headache to FC Goa tactician Manolo Marquez by making another impactful contribution, this time off the bench. The 34-year-old came on as a substitute in the 61st minute and netted the winner in the 84th, thus building on his impressive performances in this campaign which included an all-round match-winning contribution in the clash against East Bengal FC in October. With a goal contribution in every 71.75 minute along with a chance creation per 20.5 minutes that he has been on the field, Rodriguez has emerged as a trump card that Marquez so well knows when to use in the games.

Miss: Scott Cooper argued before the game that this is not the stage of the season when a team and its standing in the points table matters. However, in the penultimate spot with one win in seven games, things are not looking pretty for his side. Jamshedpur FC have made the least passes in the final third (724) with the worst accuracy (54.7%) amongst all teams until now. These are clear indications that they need to be braver and more creative in their frontline. Seiminlen Doungel came touchingly close to grab the equaliser for Jamshedpur FC, twice within the last 10 minutes, but the 29-year-old former FC Goa star continues to be on the lookout of his first strike of the season. Much like the entire Jamshedpur FC frontline, Doungel has had several chances to find the back of the net pretty frequently but he has not converted any of them so far.

Matchweek 8 – Preview

The upcoming week will see Kerala Blasters playing twice, against Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa respectively. Punjab FC and Jamshedpur FC will try to better their position in the points table with potential positive results in their matches against Bengaluru FC and Odisha FC respectively. Hyderabad FC and East Bengal FC will be squaring off against Mohun Bagan Super Giant and NorthEast United FC in the eighth matchweek.

Team of the Week

Goalkeeper: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC)

Defenders: Nikhil Poojary (Hyderabad FC), Hormipan Ruivah (Kerala Blasters FC), Sandesh Jhingan (FC Goa), Roshan Singh (Bengaluru FC)

Midfielders: Rowllin Borges (FC Goa), Rafael Crivellaro (Chennaiyin FC), Jeremy Manzorro (Jamshedpur FC)

Wingers: Noah Sadaoui (FC Goa), Boris Singh (FC Goa)

Centre Forward: Adrian Luna (Kerala Blasters FC)

ISL MW7 Fantasy Roundup

MW winner points: 59

Avg matchweek points: 27

Top point scorers:

Milos Drincic- 11 points (KBFC)

Sachin Suresh- 7 points (KBFC)

Arsh Singh- 6 points (FCG)

Sunil Chhetri- 6 points (BFC)

Harmanjot Khabra- 6 points (EBFC)

Ones to watch for MW8

Adrian Luna (KBFC)

Sachin Suresh (KBFC)

Dimitri Petratos (MBSG)

Amey Ranawade (OFC)

Also Read: Wonder goals headline the night as Kerala Blasters FC, Chennaiyin FC play out high-scoring draw

Also Read: Riveting Football Encounter Ends in Stalemate: Young Guns (Rhema) FC 1 – 1 Soccer Saga

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