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ISL 2020-21: East Bengal need to stop Jamshedpur FC's Nerijus Valskis

Nerijus Valskis topped the scoring charts of the Indian Super League (ISL) last season, and this season, it's been no different.

ISL 2020-21: East Bengal need to stop Jamshedpur FCs Nerijus Valskis


Updated: 13 March 2021 4:37 AM GMT

Nerijus Valskis topped the scoring charts of the Indian Super League (ISL) last season, and this season, it's been no different. As of now, the Jamshedpur FC striker is level with FC Goa's Igor Angulo with five goals from four games and is almost looking unstoppable.

An energetic footballer with an appetite for hard work and endeavour, Valskis has emerged as the centre-forward Jamshedpur needed in their attempt to qualify for the play offs and Thursday's opponents SC East Bengal, would be well wary of the situation.

Having endured a difficult start to their first ever ISL campaign, the Red and Golds are still looking for their first win, their first goal and in fact, their first positive result. Indeed, while they have been creative and have had opportunities, the lack of a proper goal-scoring striker — like Valskis — have hurt their chances.

But the thing is, while East Bengal may need a striker like Valskis to strengthen their attacking line-up, for Thursday, they need to come up with something to stop the marauding Lithuanian's scorching hot run.

When Owen Coyle brought Valskis over to Jamshedpur in the summer, he knew exactly what he was getting. The forward who scored 15 goals last term for Chennaiyin, was always going to be their leading marksman. Numbers show that he is Jamshedpur's main attacking threat already with most number of attempts for the team.

East BENGAL East Bengal's defence has failed to impress (Source: ISL)

Out of his five goals this season, two came in Jamshedpur's last game against ATK Mohun Bagan, a team whose resolute defence hadn't conceded in ISL 2020-21 until then. Valskis has the ability to score goals out of nowhere, pounce on opportunities that others don't even see coming. He constantly tests the goalkeepers — he has been on target with seven of his 11 efforts on goal this season which shows that he is effective.

East Bengal's defence, meanwhile, has conceded at least two goals in each of their games so far. Skipper Danny Fox is still nursing his injury and is doubtful for the match. In his absence, head coach Robbie Fowler has to bank on Aussie recruit Scott Neville, Sehnaj Singh, Rana Gharami and the likes.

But it's not just the central defenders who will have to be on their toes. Valskis' goals have mostly come from crosses coming into the box, from open play or set-pieces, and one way to stop him is to stop the deliveries. So the wingbacks, Surchandra Singh and Narayan Das need to be at their best.

Only then can Fowler ask his forwards to push forward in search of that elusive goal, and only then, can East Bengal get their first three points of ISL.

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