The Australian pitched in with a crucial brace against Bengaluru FC and could be key in the final….
Krishna has 15 goals and five assists to his name and is presented with an opportunity to leapfrog over Bartholomew Ogbeche (15) and claim the Golden Boot.
The Australian striker has seven goals and four assists to his name in a season riddled with an injury.
Williams was sidelined for the entirety of January and was sparingly used as a substitute in the three games that followed as he stepped up his recovery. He played for just 14, 15 and 45 minutes against Jamshedpur FC, Odisha FC and Chennaiyin FC, respectively.
The 32-year-old’s brace against Bengaluru FC in the semifinal was the first time he found the back of the net in over two months. His previous goal arrived against the same opposition at the same venue on Christmas Day.
There is hence context to his dry spell – one month out because of an injury and limited game time due to recovery ever since. The first time he started since his return was in a dead rubber game against Bengaluru at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Both sides fielded experimental line-ups and Williams got an assist for Edu Garcia’s goal.
In the first leg of the play-off, the Bengaluru back-line did well to contain Williams and his Fijian partner. He found the back of the net with a clinical hit after being played through by Roy. But the assistant referee saw a hand-ball and pulled the play back and rightfully so.
In the second leg, Williams was a menace. He initiated the comeback with some clever bit of play. He drew a foul from the inexperienced Suresh Wangjam when most opportune, with the referee right next to the action. Ice in his veins, the Australian then buried the spotkick himself past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
The 32-year-old’s second goal too is worthy of appreciation. The positioning was not in his favour when he got to Prabir Das’ cross to the centre of the box. It helped Williams that he was unmarked by the Bengaluru defence. But heading it home from about 10 yards out with no momentum to generate power required precision in placement. Williams did just that, beating Gurpreet Singh Sandhu at his near-post and taking the tie away from the defending champions in the process.
The numbers don’t paint a fair picture of Williams’ injury-ridden season. Despite his ‘dry spell’, the Australian showed that he is capable of peaking at the right moment to take his team over the line.
Chennaiyin will need to be wary of the 32-year-old who could decide the final all by himself. Riding on the confidence of knocking Bengaluru out, Williams will fancy his chances of putting a couple past Vishal Kaith on Saturday. The Chennaiyin defenders need to be wary of not just Krishna but also Williams.