Late drama, new beginnings and emotional farewell headline Matchweek 9 of ISL 2023-24

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 saw its ninth matchweek rounding off with NorthEast United FC and Hyderabad FC playing out a 1-1 draw at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday. 10 teams were in action in a total of five matches with FC Goa and Kerala Blasters FC continuing to occupy the top two spots in the points table currently.

Jamshedpur FC, Punjab FC, and Hyderabad FC are in the last three positions respectively as the standings heat up with a flurry of competitive matches coming up later this month. Regardless of the nature of the results, the week gone by in the Indian top-tier was certainly eventful, and following are some of the major takeaways from the same.

Farewell and new beginning

Bengaluru FC mutually parted ways with head coach Simon Grayson after their 4-0 loss against Mumbai City FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Friday. The English head coach wore a dejected look in the post-match press conference, saying, “It was men against boys. It was embarrassing. It was a lacklustre performance.” Soon afterwards, the club came out with the statement announcing the coach’s departure from the club.

Grayson can look back at his time with the Blues with fond memories, from making it to three finals last season and winning the Durand Cup as well. The Englishman had inspired them to a remarkable comeback in the second half of the previous campaign. Grayson will be leaving India after having carved a defining impact on Bengaluru FC.

Meanwhile, Mumbai City FC replaced Buckingham with Petr Kratky, who was the assistant manager at the City Football Group (CFG)-owned Melbourne City FC before taking on this responsibility with the Islanders. Interestingly, Buckingham held the same role in the A-League outfit before coming to join the ISL club in 2021, and the team will be hoping that a familiarity with the organisation and continuity in style of play can help Mumbai City FC uphold the high footballing standards that they have set on and off the field lately.

Late goals save the day for teams

There are few things as entertaining as injury time equalisers or winners in football, and the last week saw two such instances, incidentally in the first couple of games itself. Quite often, domineering strikers who sniff goals and put them to bed are the ones who give rise to such euphoric moments. Here too, Armando Sadiku and Daniel Chima Chukwu rose to the occasion to rescue a point each for Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Jamshedpur FC against Odisha FC and Chennaiyin FC respectively.

Sadiku, in fact, notched a brace and culminated his outing with a timely strike that deserted the Juggernauts of a chance to defeat the Mariners in their backyard, yet again! Chukwu, on the other hand, was brought in as a substitute and his impact was felt immediately, netting in the 90th minute to get the Red Miners level on scores with Chennaiyin FC. Both these strikers need to produce more such power-packed performances for the betterment of their sides moving forward.

Hyderabad FC, Punjab FC still waiting for wins

Nine games into the campaign, both Punjab FC and Hyderabad FC are still pursuing their first win of the ISL 2023-24 season. Staikos Vergetis and his men faced a formidable challenge in the form of East Bengal FC, who had just put five past NorthEast United FC in their previous encounter. The homework that the league debutants had done reflected in their outing against the Red & Gold Brigade, as holding an in-form side from scoring in a home encounter is a pretty tough challenge.

In Guwahati, the duo of Mohammad Yasir and Petteri Pennanen joined hands to get their side back after trailing for the better part of the first half against the Highlanders. Whilst both these sides did well to add a point to their tallies, a sense of finishing touch to seal a game lock, stock, and barrel, has been missing in their performances right throughout the campaign. Approaching the midway mark of the season, it is essential that they get their act together and start climbing higher up the table to do justice to the incredible potential underlying in their ranks at the moment.

Ideas outlast individuals

Mumbai City FC stepped into the Bengaluru FC fortress but they showed no rustiness despite returning to ISL action after over a month. They struck four goals at the Kanteerava, keeping a clean sheet, and earning the opponent’s praise for putting their bodies on the line till the very last minute of the game.

The Islanders perhaps displayed a more important lesson in the process of their victory, showing that ideas outlast individuals as the impact of Buckingham’s ideas stayed with them weeks even after the Englishman’s departure. They picked up in the game as seamlessly as ever, rolling past the Blues with four different scorers helping the incumbent League Winners Shield holders deliver a statement win. Petr Kratky will be confident that he is inheriting a champion unit, especially after this victory.

Matchweek 10 – Preview

The upcoming matchweek will see seven matches, with Mumbai City FC playing two matches, one each against FC Goa and East Bengal FC respectively. Bengaluru FC will play twice too, against Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC. Punjab FC and NorthEast United FC will lock horns with Kerala Blasters FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant respectively too. Finally, Odisha FC will host Hyderabad FC to cap off the coming week’s action.

Team of the Week

Goalkeeper: Gurmeet Singh (Hyderabad FC)

Defenders: PC Laldinpuia (Jamshedpur FC), Lazar Cirkovic (Chennaiyin FC), Suresh Meitei (Punjab FC), Ankit Mukherjee (Chennaiyin FC)

Midfielders: Mohammed Bemammer (NorthEast United FC), Ahmed Jahouh (Odisha FC), Abhishek Singh (Punjab FC), Greg Stewart (Mumbai City FC)

Strikers: Armando Sadiku (Mohun Bagan Super Giant), Jordan Murray (Chennaiyin FC)

If not registered already, fans can participate in the overall league or club-based leagues based on their preferences. Create private leagues, inviting friends and fellow football aficionados to compete. Prizes include a Sony PlayStation®️5 gaming console, EA Sports FC 24, signed club merchandise, and a Gift Card worth INR 20,000, will be awarded to 100 winners at the end of the season.

ISL MW9 Fantasy Roundup

MW winner points: 72

Avg matchweek points: 27

Top point scorers:

Akash Mishra- 15 points (MCFC)

Ahmed Jahouh- 11 points (OFC)

Armando Sadiku- 9 points (MBSG)

Greg Stewart- 8 points (MCFC)

Petteri Pennanen- 7 points (HFC)

Akash Mishra’s 15 points is the biggest points total accumulated by a player over a single match week.

Ones to watch:

Roy Krishna (vs HFC)

Sunil Chhetri (vs CFC, JFC)

Greg Stewart (vs FCG, EBFC)

Jordan Murray (vs BFC)

Where to catch the ISL action

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 SD & HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam) & DD Bangla (Bengali). In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.

Also Read: Mumbai Premier League: Sellebrity FC overcomes early deficit to triumph against JMJ FC

Also Read: MFA Super League: Mumbai Soccer Prodigies secure 3-1 win over Mumbai Strikers

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