Both teams were guilty of wastefulness in attack, perhaps NorthEast United more so than Bengaluru…
Both teams were struggling going into this game with Bengaluru looking for a sort of mini-revival under interim coach Naushad Moosa. After four losses on the bounce, a run that saw Carles Cuadrat leave the club, Moosa was desperate for a three points against NorthEast United. But that was not to be.
The Bengaluru attack continued to struggle and whatever little they created was wasted by the forwards. NorthEast, on the other hand, were more profligate than Bengaluru and on the balance of play, should have won the game.
When NorthEast United made a bright start this season, many labelled them as the surprise package and one of the ‘dark horses’. They started their campaign with a surprise 1-0 win over Mumbai City FC, a team who occupy the pole position on the Indian Super League (ISL) table currently.
They made a brilliant comeback against Kerala Blasters where they were 2-0 down before scoring twice in the second half to pick a point. They followed it up with another point against FC Goa after equalising through an Idrssa Sylla spot-kick.
In their fourth game of the season, they eased past East Bengal to register a comfortable 2-0 win. Eight points from four matches and the Highlanders looked like they would stake a claim in the top four at the end of the league stage.
However, what followed has been nothing short of a disaster. In seven matches, they have only amassed four points. A similar trend was seen last season when they had 10 points from the opening five matches and would go on to pick a mere eight points more from the remaining 13 games.
“There are more players now who were not here last year. I see the opportunity to use those statistics (from last year) to prove to ourselves that we can do better,” said Nus ahead of their sixth game of the campaign when he was questioned on NorthEast United’s slump last season.
Kwesi Appiah’s injury hasn’t helped Nus’ cause which has further reduced the goalscoring options for the Highlanders.
Bengaluru FC have struggled throughout the season and it wasn’t much different against NorthEast. They would thank their stars for picking a point thanks to a gift from goalkeeper Gurmeet Singh, who failed to collect a feeble shot, or cross, from Rahul Bheke.
What would continue to haunt Naushad Moosa and his players is the ease with which the opposition are able to create openings. If not for V.P.Suhair being wasteful on a couple of occasions, Bengaluru could have found themselves staring at yet another defeat.
The goals aren’t coming and the creativity from set-pieces, along with Carles Cuadrat, seems to have deserted them. They struggle to get behind the opposition defence and when they do, there aren’t enough bodies inside the box.
Not much has changed for Bengaluru since Cuadrat’s departure in terms of fashioning chances from open play and Moosa needs to address this as soon as possible.
NorthEast have opted to get rid of Nus and hand over the reins to Khalid Jamil. Whether it was the right decision or not, only time will tell. However, the onus is now on Jamil to ensure that the team do much better in the second half of the campaign, keeping in mind the limitations he has.