The win sealed the southerners’ maiden I-League title in their history.
At the end of one of the most remarkable seasons of the I-League, Chennai City FC came out on top, lifting the title against all odds. Chennai started the day one point clear at the top of the table and had the final hurdle of Minerva Punjab to get past. East Bengal could not afford to drop points against Gokulam Kerala.
Chennai City beat Minerva Punjab 3-1, while East Bengal edged Gokulam Kerala 2-1 albeit in vain.
We at Khel Now take you through the talking points from this dramatic day of football in the I-League.
5. Marcos Joseph played out an audition for a big move
The Trinidadian forward has been inspiring for the Kerala side this season, with seven goals in his last six games. Throughout the game, the striker terrorized the East Bengal backline with his slick touches and stepovers. Joseph found himself on the edge of the box in the 70th minute to slot home, putting his side in the lead.
Joseph would be an astute signing for any of the bigger sides in the I-League or in the ISL.
4. Antonio Dovale’s introduction changed the game for East Bengal
Enrique Esqueda was replaced by Dovale in the 78th minute after the Mexican squandered a host of chances that could have put the Red and Gold in the driving seat far earlier in the game. Dovale brought a dynamism to the match that very quickly resulted in two goals, which gave the side from Kolkata a glimmer of hope in the match.
3. Gaurav Bora’s rise mirrors Akbar Nawas’ fantastic work with domestic youth
Akbar Nawas took over the reins at Chennai in 2018 and has since imbibed his philosophy into the very fabric of the club. No player is more representative of this than the 20-year-old Gaurav Bora.
The defender popped up with two crucial goals in the final game of the season to seal the title for his side. Nawas has bolstered his side with an almost perfect mix of experience and domestic youth, that epitomizes everything that the I-League stands for.
2. Comeback biggest form of Chennai’s champions’ mentality
It would have been easy for the south Indian side to buckle under the pressure of going behind in just the third minute. But, such was the mental strength of the team, they dragged the game back from the brink and came out as convincing winners of both the league and the match.
There is no greater compliment to a side than to say that they never know when they are beaten and Chennai City have shown the strongest of mentalities all season long.
1. Do Chennai City deserve a spot in the ISL?
With the I-League nearing its last gasp, it would truly be a shame to see a rejuvenated Chennai side under Nawas not playing regularly in one of Indian Football’s top leagues. A move to the ISL would be the only logical solution to this problem. It would also result in a local derby in Chennai, which is something that the ISL needs.
On the back of this season and their dominance, there is a very strong argument that Chennai City should be the next team to make the transition to the big money world of the ISL.