Hindustan FC, South United and Jamshedpur FC are currently in the bottom of their respective groups.
While the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL) might be moving towards its season’s end, the I-League 2nd Division is moving ahead in full throttle. Almost one-third of the season has been completed, with some real surprise packages coming up through the ranks to prove the unpredictability of the league. The ISL reserve sides are doing decently, while new-comers are also making their mark in the respective groups. So here’s our round-up for the first phase.
A group which has been completely dominated by Bengaluru FC reserves, the strong youth structure of the ISL giants has been on display so far. The Blues have won all four of their matches so far against FC Goa Reserves(4-1), ARA FC(4-0) and Hindustan FC, whom they defeated 8-0 and 3-1 to prove their dominance. A string of impressive young players like Altamash Sayed (2nd Division tied top-scorer with four goals), Naorem Roshan Singh (three goals) and Leon Augustine(three goals) have impressed the most for an attack-minded side who are brushing aside whoever they face right now.
Ahmadabad’s newest entry ARA FC have also had a thrilling start to life in the 2nd division, defeating Hindustan FC 4-3 in their first ever match thanks to Syed Shoaib Ahmed’s brilliant hat-trick. They also defeated the Delhi side 2-0 in the reverse fixture, while losing 3-2 in controversial fashion to Lonestar Kashmir and 4-0 to Bengaluru FC.
Speaking of the Kashmir side, they’ve only managed that single victory so far from the only game they’ve been able to play in this campaign. A recent game against ARA FC was postponed due to some security issues in Srinagar, meaning that the games will soon come thick and fast for Lonestar Kashmir.
FC Goa has also won one game and lost one so far, losing 4-1 to their Bengaluru counter-parts and thrashing Hindustan FC 6-0 in their first home game of the season. Speaking of Hindustan, their fall from grace has been shocking. The side to face Real Kashmir in the I-League 2nd division playoffs final last season, they now find themselves pitted to the bottom of Group A having conceded 23 goals from five games.
Fateh Hyderabad has continued their stellar rise in the 2nd Division with a strong start in group B, as they’re currently unbeaten having won all three of their first batch of matches this season. They’ve been a defensively strong, organized unit who won their first match 1-0 against Kerala Blasters Reserves, before picking up a big 3-0 win over South United. A 2-1 win over Chennaiyin FC reserves rounded up a perfect start, as they sit atop of Group B currently with nine points.
Below them are Bengaluru outfit Ozone FC, who has also maintained a perfect start with two wins from their first two matches. They’ve also defeated South United FC 1-0 in their opener, before battling hard to pick up an important 2-1 win over Chennaiyin FC reserves to make it two in two. The experienced Bengaluru football side is just behind on Fateh Hyderabad and sit in second place having played one game less than them.
Kerala Blasters Reserves are the most proficient ISL reserves side from the group, having picked up four points from their first three games. They drew their first game 0-0 against Chennaiyin FC reserves, before falling to a bitter 1-0 loss at home to group leaders Fateh Hyderabad. However, they came back strongly to defeat South United 3-1 and currently sit at the third place.
Chennaiyin FC reserves are just behind them, having recorded a disappointing start to the season. They’ve only managed two draws against Kerala Blasters and South United FC, losing narrowly to Ozone and Fateh Hyderabad 2-1 in both games. South United FC are at the bottom of Group B, having only drawn against Chennaiyin FC reserves and lost against Fateh Hyderabad (0-4), Ozone FC (0-1) and Kerala Blasters FC reserves (1-3).
Arguably the most competitive group in the I-League 2nd division, Group C has been dominated by the newcomers to the league so far. Mizoram side Chhinga Veng FC lead the group with ten points and are unbeaten having won three and drawn one out of their four games so far. They might’ve drawn their first game against New Barrackpore Rainbow AC, but rallied back to defeat Jamshedpur FC Reserves 1-0. After that, they defeated Mohammedan Sporting 3-0 and TRAU FC 2-0 to consolidate their position as group leaders.
Surprise packages New Barrackpore Rainbow are just lurking behind them in second place with nine points, having had a solid start to their first-ever season in the second division. Rainbow has picked up two wins and three draws from their first five games, including a 6-2 win over Jamshedpur FC Reserves and an away 3-2 win over TRAU FC. They’ve also held Chhinga Veng FC and ATK Reserves to draws while playing out a 1-1 draw against Mohammedan Sporting.
ATK reserves sit at a third place, having started the season impressively with two wins in their first four games. The side who are mentored by former Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen defeated Mohammedan Sporting 2-0 in the opening match of the I-League 2nd division season, after which they defeated Jamshedpur FC reserves 2-0. Despite losing 2-3 to TRAU FC and a goalless draw against Rainbow, they’ve held their ground and sit at third place with seven points.
TRAU FC has had a topsy-turvy start to the season, having won two and lost two out of their first four games. They’ve picked up impressive 1-0 and 3-2 wins over Jamshedpur FC and ATK reserves away from home. However, they’ve been disappointing at their own yard, losing to Rainbow and Chhinga Veng, with the losses taking them down to fourth place with six points despite 2nd Division top-scorer Princewell Emeka’s hard-work with four goals.
Mohammedan Sporting’s dismay’s continued through the new I-League 2nd division season, as they’ve only won one out of their first four games in Group C. After losing to ATK and Chhinga Veng, they recently defeated Jamshedpur FC to get their first win of the season taking them to fifth place. Jamshedpur FC Reserves, the odd team out in the 16-team competition, are at rock bottom with five losses from five, showing a shocking lack of growth in their youth level.