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Raghunandhanan Narasimhan discusses three talking points about the I-League game that finished Chennai City FC 1-1 DSK Shivajians
Chennai City FC somewhat recovered from their recent slump as they were close to registering a win against DSK Shivajians. The Pune based side equalised in the 92nd minute as they put in a very spirited performance, especially in the second half. Here are three things we learned from the match.
The DSK Shivajians’ coach has set up an impressive playing style at the club with a vision in mind- to integrate youngsters into the main team. His playing eleven fielded on the night featured eleven U-22 players of which six of the players were U-19. The Head Coach rued losing two points on the day despite having equalised in stoppage time. DSK Shivajians have been playing a brand of football that is attractive on the eye. Results may not be reflecting their performance on the pitch, which Dave Rogers also voiced in his post-match conference, but the club have created an identity for themselves. Playing a high tempo game that focuses on finding gaps in between the lines, the build-up play from DSK Shivajians has an air of shrewd professionalism about it despite the younger age of the playing squad.
The five fixtures on road consecutively have surely taken a toll on the team but Rogers and co can take heart from the fact that the team never threw in the towel and equalised in the 92nd minute. Coming from a young squad, this is indeed a laudable achievement. Only their second season in the I-League, the franchise club have been performing well and it is only a matter of time before they find themselves in the reckoning on the right side of the table.
Fielding all four foreigners in the playing eleven, Head Coach Soundararajan looked to find a combination that would help his side find the chemistry up front. The decision to play local lad Nandhakumar was a master stroke as he was brilliant on the night bagging the Hero Of The Match award. His assist to Amiri from the corner flag helped CCFC get a goal in the first half. The intensity from Chennai City was much better as they looked to set straight their first half performances. The link up play from Amiri, Charles and Nandhakumar was brilliant and there were a lot of chances created in the first half by the home side.
Chennai City FC looked to have done enough as they tried to protect the lead but ultimately conceded a late goal in stoppage time. The goal was a deflating one as the win could have seen them leapfrog DSK in the points table. However it was not to be the case but the CCFC side can take heart from the fact that they were much better on the night compared to their previous two games. The build-up play was much crisper. Another fact that worked well in the home side’s favour was the pairing of Zakeer and Dhanapal Ganesh in the midfield as there was much more fluidity in the side with the added creativity of Zakeer in the side. The passes came out quickly from the middle and the machine was smooth for the local team.
Dave Rogers was enthusiastic in the post-match presser despite being very tired. He was over joyed at the fact that his youngsters were able to play his brand of football and were able to grind out results on the road despite their difficult scheduling. “Indian football won today as you can see. There are so many youngsters coming out of our youth academy back home in Pune while our playing squad had nine U-21 players of which six were U-19 and towards the end it was seven.” He was quoted saying this in the post-match press conference. For an English Coach to say this about Indian football is something special and slowly but steadily, the fan following for the I-League and the quality has been on the rise.
Chennai City FC have portrayed themselves as a team that stresses encouraging local talent and with good measure. The likes of Nandhakumar, the star on the day, Michael Soosairaj and Regin are some of the local lads who have been important for the club. Captain Dharmaraj Ravanan was rock solid at the back for the home side while the Indians and especially the youngsters on show, were absolutely brilliant. Hopefully there will be major changes in the years to come with Indian football gaining more and more foothold in India. For now, the signs look good.
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