Long throw-ins and East Bengal - Pulling the wool over defenders eyes
Since Rahul Bheke and Narayan Das signed for East Bengal, a long throw-in inside the opponents’ half has often been Plan B to provide an assist for a goal or two. Before the significance of the same for East Bengal is analysed, one must understand the effectiveness of this move.
The 'long throw-in' is a classic, useful move in football - chucking a ball from the touchline into the opponents' goalmouth can catch defenders off guard. Consequently, an attacker receiving the ball from a throw can't be caught out by the offside rule. What makes this ploy lethal is that it is devoid of the offside trap as is often seen in instances of long balls and crosses. The strikers are left moving in the box and the goal-bound throw presents a delectable scoring opportunity for the strikers.
Former Stoke City FC player Rory Delap was one of the biggest proponents of this tactic. His long range throws had accounted for half of their goals in the 2008-09 season. Corners had lost their significance as the throw-ins took over as the new set piece option for the Potters.
In this season of the I-League, East Bengal had a fabulous run till their winning juggernaut came to an abrupt halt at the hands of Churchill Brothers. The Red and Golds stand in second spot, three points behind league leaders Aizawl FC. The Calcutta giants have managed to score 25 goals this season and lead the goal scoring charts.
However, their goals have been mostly solo efforts, coupled with incisive assists from the likes of Lalrindika Ralte. The wing backs haven’t managed to assist as much as they would have liked from their trademark throw-ins.
The tall forward line comprising of Willis Deon Plaza, Robin Singh, Wedson Anselme has not offered any threat in the box from the throw-in set-pieces. Rahul Bheke and Narayan Das have not managed to exploit the height factor to create goal scoring opportunities with their long balls. Bheke had made it into the limelight with this unconventional yet effective skill.
With time, the Mumbai lad seems to have lost out on his unique skill, but now is the perfect time for the former Mumbai FC man to grind it out in the practice sessions.
Bheke can hope to be the perfect answer to India’s Rory Delap. The comparisons had been floating since that Mohammed Rafi goal from his long throw in the Indian Super League. But the Mumbai player has a long way to go scale the heights of the Irishman.
At this juncture, Bheke has to deliver those telling throw-ins to steer East Bengal in the right track.
The current crop of East Bengal players has a tall and burly forward lineup but Robin Singh has been found wanting in the flanks and Plaza seems to have lost his touch. New recruit Christopher Payne has found the back of the net but has been unable to impress the fans. Anselme faces a lengthy spell outside with a niggling groin injury and is yet to regain fitness.
In such circumstances, Robin Singh has to shoulder the responsibility to find the back of the net. The former Bengaluru FC man has a physique which could work to his advantage but lacks pace with the ball at his feet. His sharp shooting and heading skills make him a feared prospect in the opposition’s penalty box.
But his heading abilities can provide the added fillip to match the wingbacks’ long throws. So far, that has been a rarity in this season and has added to the goal scoring woes of the Noida boy. 26-year old Robin has to add another feather to his arsenal and take his game up a notch to ease out the dearth of goal scoring options in his current side.
At a towering height of 6’ 3”, Ivan Bukenya can add another big presence in the box to meet the throw-ins from the wingbacks. Narayan Das has a formidable range with his throws and can add to the attack from the other channel. The onus will be on Robin Singh to stand out and ruffle the defence with his timely headers.
The league is nearing its business end and East Bengal ought to lap up every opportunity to secure three points in each of the remaining matches. It has been a tight affair thus far and the last few games of the season promise to be a cliffhanger.
When the league restarts next month, it will be a close-run affair as the battle for the crown gets heated up. In such a scenario, East Bengal should make the most of their strengths and help them secure their maiden I-League trophy.