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I-League 2023/24: Matchweek 5 Preview

Gokulam Kerala leads the chart as the fifth round of games rolls in the I-League. Take a look here at  I-League 2023/24 Matchweek 5 Preview.

Last updated: 17.11.2023
I-League 2023/24: Matchweek 5 Preview

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Games keep on coming thick and fast in the I-League as most teams will play their fifth game of the new season. Slowly each team’s faith in the campaign is showing up in these early exchanges with no- surprise leaders Gokulam Kerala and second-placed Mohammedan SC, both level on 10 points, remaining the only sides yet to suffer defeat. Two sides from Manipur, Neroca and TRAU remain bottom two of the standings with only a point collected so far.

Friday, 17 November 2023  

Aizawl vs Delhi FC - Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl (16:30)


Aizawl bounced back from their opening-day loss to Mohammedan SC by stunning Sreenidi Deccan at their home and then making a remarkable second-half comeback against Neroca to win 3-1 in the North East derby. The match was played at the Kalyani Stadium in West Bengal. Aizawl trailed for 62 minutes after going behind from a first-half strike by Tarak Hembram before equalizing through Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia. The youngster tapped in to retake the lead in the 81st minute and then completed his hat-trick with a last-minute penalty. The side would like to carry on the positive run in the first home game of the season.

They will welcome the promoted side Delhi FC to Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. The visitors will be frustrated with not getting the most out of the 2-1 defeat to Mohammedan SC in their last game despite the opposition being reduced to nine. Delhi FC failed to recover from the two early goals conceded, within 13 minutes, with the late goal from Bali Gagandeep counting to nothing. It put a stinker to their thrilling 4-3 win, their first ever in I-league, against Rajasthan United and forced them to rethink their defence ahead of their first away game of the season.                                 

Churchill Brothers vs Inter Kashi - Tilak Maidan, Goa (19:00)

Churchill Brothers suffered quite a surprising loss to lowly Rajasthan United 2-0 having opened the season with a goalless draw against Namdhari and picked up a 3-1 win over Real Kashmir in the second match. The result was a knock to the confidence of the side who will be desperate now to bounce back in the season’s first game in Goa with new side Inter Kashi seeking their visit. Churchill Brothers feel this could be the wrong time to face the team from Uttar Pradesh who registered their long-awaited historical win in the I-League against the other corporate entry Namdhari FC.

Trailing by a goal at half-time it seemed Kashi was left wandering about their defensive woes again after playing out a 2-2 draw with Gokulam and then losing 4-1 embarrassingly to Sreenidi Deccan. However, they turned up the gear to the next level in the second half with Jordan Lamela equalizing before Mario Barco scored a splendid brace. Imanol Arana cut the deficit for Namdhari but the threat of a comeback was neutralized Tomba Singh scored the fourth for Kashi a minute later in stoppage time for a 4-2 victory. Carlos Santamarina’s team will look for back-to-back away wins now to reinstall their fight for the top spot.

Saturday, 18 November 2023  

Neroca vs Namdhari FC - Kalyani Stadium, Kalyani (16:30)

Neroca’s defensive vulnerabilities were exposed again as the side fail to hold onto their first half lead to lose 3-1 to Aizawl FC. Jacob Joseph’s team has now conceded 12 goals in just four matches which is a huge worry. Leaking goals at this rate will keep on sinking them in the unwanted relegation zone. Also without a victory and just a draw to their name, Neroca looks to come away from the poor run of form in their second consecutive home game in the league against Namdhari FC.   

Their opposition also faced a similar scenario unable to keep their 14th minute lead, scored by Harmanpreet Singh, by collapsing in the second-half against Inter Kashi. Namdhari conceded four in that period with Arana cutting off the deficit did not bear any fruit at the end. However, the corporate side got their first-ever I-league win in the next match itself by beating Real Kashmir 1-0. Harmanpreet was the scorer again. They will hope to climb up the table now with another win as they face a struggling side in Neroca although this will be their first away match of the season.

Rajasthan United vs Mohammedan SC - Deccan Arena, Hyderabad (19:00)

Rajasthan United finally put an end to their three-game losing streak at the start of the 2023/24 I-League season and in the last six matches in all competitions by claiming a 2-0 victory over Churchill Brothers earlier this week. Lalchungnunga Chhangte and Richardson Kwaku Denzell scored the goals for the win. The victory tasted sweeter as the Desert Warriors managed to keep a clean sheet for the first time this season. The first three points of the season put Rajasthan United out of the relegation spot but they will find it hard to maintain their place as unbeaten Mohammedan SC visits them.

After a cracking start against Delhi FC going 2-0 inside 13 minutes from an own goal by Gurtej Singh and Lalremsanga’s strike, second-placed Mohammedan SC had to put up a huge defensive effort having two men sent off before half-time. They managed to win despite the promoted side reducing the deficit late in the game to make it three wins out of the first four matches. The manner of victory will motivate Mohammedan SC to fight against any challenge this season as they eye the top spot. The Black Panthers will be confident of picking up another win on the travel before facing a spirited Inter Kashi team next week. Their goal-scoring prowess will be a real asset with 10 goals scored in just four games.

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