ISL 2017/18: Round-up of a surprise-packed February
The story of the top four
Table-toppers Bengaluru FC sealed their semi-final spot with 37 points from 17 games in the ISL. They were victorious in five back to back matches since January and remain unbeaten in their last seven games; their last win came against Jamshedpur FC in an away game which cemented their place for the final four.
The 32-year-old Venezuelan forward, Miku has netted 13 goals in 16 matches till now and is breathing heavily on the shoulder of top scorer Ferran Corominas who is with 16 goals.
FC Pune City, however, started their campaign for February with a loss to Kerala Blasters FC in Indian Super League but managed to bounce back with two back to back wins against North East United FC and Mumbai City FC. They ended the winning streak of Bengaluru FC with a draw in Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Whereas they ended February with a 4-0 loss to FC Goa but it was not a worried moment as FC Pune City qualified for the semi-final with 29 points from 17 games.
Chennaiyin FC started with a loss against Bengaluru FC but managed to keep themselves on track with a draw against Delhi Dynamos FC in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi. Chennaiyin FC star forward Jeje Lalpekhlua has scored 7 goals from 17 matches which shows a glimmer of hope in the forward line for the upcoming matches.
Chennaiyin FC joined the semi-final round for the third time in four seasons along with Bengaluru FC and FC Pune City by securing 29 points from 17 matches.
FC Goa out-jumped Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters FC by climbing up to the fourth place of the table with 27 points from 17 games. They defeated ATK by 5-1 at the end of February in an important fixture; a back to back win with a big margin against FC Pune City and ATK is keeping their dream alive for the play-off. FC Goa will face Jamshedpur FC in an upcoming away fixture which will decide the fate for the fourth place in the table.
The Mid-Table Run
The last season’s table topper and semi-finalist Mumbai City FC is in the seventh place of the table with 23 points from 17 games. They were very close to joining the last four battle but missed out due to some losses in previous games; they met with a back to back loss against Jamshedpur FC and FC Pune City at the beginning of February, but they bounced back against ATK and North East United FC.
In spite of a good comeback, Mumbai City FC met with a heavy loss against Delhi Dynamos in their second last game by 5-1 which definitely made them think to change their strategy before they face Chennaiyin FC in their last game of this ISL edition.
Jamshedpur FC slipped to the fifth position of the table with 16 points from 17 games. They won two, drew one and lost one on the month of February and their upcoming match is against FC Goa. Veteran goalkeeper Subrata Paul is leading the race for Golden glove award with 7 clean sheets from 17 games. On the other hand, Spanish defender Tiri made the maximum number of interceptions and has one goal besides his name.
Kerala Blasters is in the sixth position of the table with 25 points from 17 games and their upcoming match is against Bengaluru FC in Sree Kanteerava Stadium. They won two and drew two games in the month of February; Courage Pekuson won the hearts of the supporters by scoring 1 goal and making 5 assists in 17 matches.
An Afflicted Journey
Delhi Dynamos FC did not have a good start in this season. They won only 1 and lost 3 games in the month of January but a positive start since the outset of February lifted them to the eighth position of the table with 18 points from 17 games.
Delhi Dynamos won 3 and drew 2 matches, which may be giving them the oxygen to go forward with a single game left in their hand. The 35-year-old Nigerian forward, Kalu Uche is in the third place in the highest goal scorers chart with 11 goals from 14 games.
Current champions ATK did not have a favorable start in this season. They secured 13 points from 17 games and lying on the ninth position of the table which is not a healthy start they wanted.
They lost 4 games out of which three back to back defeats and made one draw against Kerala Blasters FC. The 37-year-old star forward Robbie Keane scored 5 goals in 7 appearances for ATK. They will play their last match against NorthEast United FC and must avoid a loss in order to keep themselves in the same place.
Northeast United FC started off disastrously in this year's edition of the ISL. They would not want to remember this journey as they secured 11 points from 17 games and sitting in the bottom part of the table.
NorthEast United started with a draw against FC Goa but met with five back to back defeats in the competition. Brazilian midfielder Marcinho scored 4 goals and made 1 assist so far for them whereas an eye-catching performance delivered by Seiminlen Doungel of late; they will face ATK in their last match of this edition and it will be their last opportunity to leapfrog ATK and save themselves from the bottom part of the table