In ISL, it is bend it like Liston

ElephantNewsNetwork4个月前Football219
In ISL, it is bend it like ListonPREMIUM

Last season, Liston Colaco set a target of five goals in the Indian Super League (ISL). He fell three short. What he couldn’t do in 19 games for Hyderabad FC, the inverted left winger has in eight for ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB). In a season and a half with his former club, Colaco had four goals and three assists from 23 games. This time, he has already scored more than in four prior seasons of ISL. Exactly how 2021-22 has panned out for the 23-year-old can be gauged from him getting successive player of the match awards, the first Indian to do so this season.

In a team that usually starts with Roy Krishna and Manvir Singh—the duo scored 20 of ATKMB’s 28 goals last season—it is Colaco who has the maximum goals. Both he and Hugo Boumous have five, the second-highest in the league, but going into Wednesday’s game against Hyderabad FC, Colaco has played 59 minutes less (547-606). He is averaging a goal every 82 minutes, according to statistics provided by ISL. The corresponding number for Hyderabad FC is 1.08 for Bartholomew Ogbeche, who along with Mumbai City FC’s Igor Angulo has the maximum goals so far—eight. ‘Colaco golazo’ is now part of the ISL commentary team’s lexicon.

The one he scored against FC Goa, a club he left seeking game time two January transfer windows ago, came following a hopeful stab upfield from ATKMB left back Subhasish Bose. In a pocket of space, Colaco steered left to get to the ball, galloped forward and sharply cut in to wrong-foot Seriton Fernandes. But he was still 25 yards away from goal so the alarm bells weren’t really ringing at FC Goa.

So, Colaco opened his shoulders and let fly, the ball arcing into the night sky, swerving towards goal and dipping in at Dheeraj Singh’s far post, leaving the goalkeeper gobsmacked, central defender Ivan Gonzalez standing with hands on hips and ATKMB coach Juan Ferrando holding his head in hands.

“I hit the ball while aiming for the goal, I did not think it would take such a turn,” Colaco said, speaking to ATKMB. “I used all my strength to hit the ball. I practice such long shots regularly. Maybe I got its benefits.”

Listing it as the best he has scored so far, he said: “I really wanted to score in this match. My parents regularly watch games at my house in Goa. They also wanted me to score a goal in this match. The passion to score against the old team is different. I am even more satisfied as we have won against Goa."

Colaco, who was the first player FC Goa paid a transfer fee for when they signed him from Salgaocar in 2017, dedicated the goal to his mother Nazrana, a former kabaddi player.

He had cancelled out VP Suhair’s early strike against NorthEast United in the previous round. Having been the first ISL coach who triggered a release clause, Ferrando’s big money shift from FC Goa couldn’t have got off to a worse start with ATKMB trailing after two minutes. Colaco had a free-kick that didn’t dip and a left-footer that was saved by the goalie before he raced in to head home Krishna’s assist. “Roy Krishna and Hugo Boumous are giving a lot of good passes,” he said after the 3-2 win. While that is true, Colaco has also been clinical. ATKMB have had 31% of their attacks from the left as opposed to 34% from the right but Colaco’s share in the team’s 12 outfield goals shows how he is owning the area.

It started from the first game against Kerala Blasters when Colaco stood and curled one in. He scored in the next game too, against SC East Bengal, making the most of a clanger from goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharja. And he was at it against Chennaiyin FC, putting his team ahead with another right-footer after steaming in from the left. The reportedly ₹1 crore transfer deal from Hyderabad FC was already paying dividends.

On a two-year deal with ATKMB, Colaco has already caught India head coach Igor Stimac’s eye. His defensive skills need a lot of work as Mumbai City FC have showed but a midfielder who can shoot with either foot and score off headers will always be a handy option for club and country.

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