Both NorthEast United FC and Kerela Blasters FC conceded four goals in their opening match in Indian Super League against Bengaluru and ATK Mohun Bagan respectively. Thus, it was expected that both teams would go all-out for a win in their second match of the season. But to the fans' disappointment, both teams could only play a goalless draw here at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa.
Although we didn't get to see any goal in the match, still there were plenty of breathtaking moments, and close escapes for both teams in either half as Khalid Jamil and Ivan Vukomanovic looked desperate to get their first points on board.
The defensive errors, missed chances, tactical set ups and plenty more. Here are the five talking points from the match:
Conservative Approach from Both Teams
As mentioned earlier, both teams had conceded four goals in their first match, which forced both managers to go in this game with a defensive mindset and conservative approach. Both teams played in their half mostly, trying to keep possession of the ball and not commit themselves too much at the front. Especially in the first half, both teams had only three attempts on goal, and none were on target. This no-risk approach did change in the second half as we saw both teams getting shots on target, but those were not enough to open the scoring.
Too Many Missed Chances
Both teams had some great chances in front of the goal. Pereyra had a golden opportunity in the first half, but he squared it wide off the post. Vincy then was through on goal in the second half but he chose to pass the ball to Sahal instead of shooting himself and Sahal shockingly missed an empty net. Vasquez got another chance in the 80th minute but his header was saved brilliantly by Subhasish Roy Chowdhury. Kerela Blasters FC must be thinking about those missed chances and wondering if they could have done anything better in those situations.
Foreign Centre-back Pairings
Until today, we hadn't seen any Foreign CBs pairing in any of the first six matches. All teams went with 1 Indian and one foreign center-back pairing. But both teams defensive issues from the first game meant that they could no longer trust their original pairing. Northeast took out both Justin and Mashoor and brought Patrick Flottmann into the defense with Captain and erstwhile Midfielder Hernan Santana slipping in as the second center back. Kerela Blasters too replaced Varghese with Sipovic to start alongside Leskovic at the back. These changes at the back did help both teams as they were able to keep clean sheets. So will we see the same foreign CB pairing for the rest of the season as well or not, this is something we will have to wait and watch.
Deshorn Brown Injured
NorthEast United FC received a huge setback as their star forward Deshorn Brown hopped off the pitch in the 70th minute of the game after what looked like a knee injury. Jamaican footballer is a crucial player for Highlanders and his unavailability could be a huge factor for them in coming matches. Coach Khalid Jamil will be hoping that his injury doesn't turn out to be serious. He does have Matheus Coureur as an option though if he needs it.
No-Risk No Reward
As mentioned earlier, both teams didn't take a lot of risks and looked very cautious right from the start. This was a match where both Khalid Jamil and Ivan Mukovanovic got their tactics right and would be quite happy with the game's outcome. A draw was probably the reward they wanted and they got that in the end. But this approach won't help them in other games where they will have to play better teams who would press high and create problems. Even in this game, both teams looked nervous in the middle of the pitch as they were losing possessions quite quickly when under pressure. Both coaches will have to work upon this and ask their players to be more brave going forward in the season.
Northeast plays Chennaiyin on 29th, while Kerela plays Bengaluru on the 28th of November in their next ISL 2021-22 fixture.