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Both teams were guilty of wastage in attack, perhaps NorthEast United more than Bengaluru …
Neither Bengaluru FC nor NorthEast United FC would have been the happiest team after a listless 0-0 draw in which Highlanders coach Gerard Nus parted ways with the club.
Both teams were struggling going into this game with Bengaluru looking for something of a mini revival under interim coach Naushad Moosa. After four losses on the rebound, a streak that saw Carles Cuadrat leave the club, Moosa was desperate for three points against NorthEast United. But that was not to be.
The Bengaluru attack continued to fight and what little they created was wasted by the forwards. NorthEast, on the other hand, was more wasteful than Bengaluru and on the balance of the game, they should have won the game.
When NorthEast United got off to a bright start to this season, many labeled them the surprise pack and one of the ‘dark horses’. They started their campaign with a surprise 1-0 win over Mumbai City FC, a team that currently occupies pole position in the Indian Super League (ISL) table.
They made a brilliant comeback against Kerala Blasters, where they were 2-0 down before scoring twice in the second half to take a point. They followed up with another point against FC Goa after equalizing on a penalty from Idrssa Sylla.
In their fourth game of the season, they easily passed East Bengal to record a comfortable 2-0 victory. Eight points from four games and the Highlanders appeared to be at stake in the top four at the end of the league stage.
However, what followed has been nothing short of a disaster. In seven games, they have only accumulated four points. A similar trend was seen last season when they scored 10 points in the first five games and would go on to get just eight more points from the remaining 13 games.
“There are more players now who weren’t here last year. I see an opportunity to use those statistics (from last year) to show ourselves that we can do better,” Nus said before his sixth game of the season when asked about NorthEast United’s downfall last season.
Kwesi Appiah’s injury hasn’t helped Nus’s cause, further reducing the Highlanders’ chances of scoring.
Bengaluru FC have struggled throughout the season and it wasn’t much different against NorthEast. They would thank their stars for scoring a point thanks to a gift from goalkeeper Gurmeet Singh, who failed to pick up a weak shot, or a cross, from Rahul Bheke.
What would continue to haunt Naushad Moosa and his players is the ease with which opponents can create openings. If it weren’t for the fact that VPSuhair was a waste on a couple of occasions, Bengaluru might have found himself looking at another loss.
The goals do not come and the creativity of the set pieces, together with Carles Cuadrat, seems to have abandoned them. They struggle to get behind the opposing defense and when they do, there are not enough bodies in the area.
Not much has changed for Bengaluru since Quadrat’s departure in terms of creating opportunities from open play and Moosa needs to address this as soon as possible.
NorthEast has chosen to ditch Nus and hand over the reins to Khalid Jamil. Whether it was the right decision or not, only time will tell. However, now Jamil has a responsibility for the team to do much better in the second half of the season, considering the limitations it has.