I-League: Each match is like a final for us, says TRAU coach Nandakumar


GUWAHATI: Manipur-based club Tiddim Road Union Athletic (TRAU) coach Nandakumar isn’t surprised by his team’s performance in the ongoing I-League but has cautioned his players to not take anything for granted. TRAU and coach Nandakumar have been a revelation in the I-League season so far. The dark horses are perched at third in the I-League table with ten points out of seven matches, three points adrift of leaders Churchill Brothers FC Goa.

Although many critics would have brushed TRAU off for a mid-table finish, Nandakumar’s tactical genius has ensured that they belong with the leading pack and are not letting go anytime soon. “I am not surprised that we are in this position. The squad has the ability and the potential to be here and stay here. However, at the same time, we cannot take anything for granted and we have to keep working hard and fighting in every game,” the I-League website quoted Nandakumar as saying.

The coach now wants his side to treat each game as a final match. His focus is not on winning the I-League final but on clinching the upcoming games one at a time. “We are taking one match at a time and each match is like a final for us. We have to keep gathering points and keep continuing our form. Winning the league is not the focus, our next match is,” said Nandakumar

Seventy five per cent of TRAU’s goals in the Hero I-League season thus far have come in the first fifteen minutes of the match. Komron Tursunov’s 9-second strike against Real Kashmir and then a 6th-minute goal in yesterday’s 1-0 win over Aizawl FC prove how Nandakumar’s team adopts a highly attacking stance in the opening quarter of the match. Counter attacks have been the go-to strategy for TRAU. They have made an average of 2.7 passes to find the net and 67 per cent of their goals have come from counters, meaning a swift blitzkrieg reaps dividends for them time and again despite having a conversion rate of just 28 per cent.

Although TRAU have conceded seven goals so far, they have the second most challenges in the league with 88, narrowly behind Chennai City FC with 95. With 51 defensive challenges, TRAU’s back four has kept out the likes of Clayvin Zuniga and Luka Majcen. However, two clean sheets to their name is an indication that there is still room for improvement in the defence.

Even in the latter half of the season, TRAU seems to be hanging out with the big boys of Real Kashmir, Churchill Brothers, and Mohammedan SC, matching step for step and point for point. A solid defensive performance in Tuesday’s 1-0 saw TRAU execute counter-attacking football to the fullest, with the only goal of the game coming in the 6th minute through star striker Komron Tursunov. (ANI)