Naïve East Bengal and table toppers Aizawl FC need to concentrate harder to stop Mohun Bagan from an easy league victory. . .

The I-league resumed after the international break and how! With just four games to go, every team tried to get into a mini-rhythm and get some much-needed positive energy going into the final leg of the league. The weekend saw some good, fighting football with high drama in stoppage times.

With a lot of play for, there was high drama on the pitch as every game was fought with equal vigour and tension. The players put in a good shift and some very defining results were seen on the pitch. While the I-league table wasn’t disturbed too much, four of the games saw results going one way.


Khel Now’s Team of the Week

11 goals were scored and the league table now looks opened up as Aizawl FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, all chase the title. Here, we take a look at the Team of the Week and the talking points of I-league Round 15.

Chennai City FC proving their worth in top flight 

Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab were the corporate entries this season and were ensured no relegation for the next three. While Minerva has continued to unearth young talents like Anirudh Thapa and Bodo, Chennai City has looked at the situation with maturity and have played brilliantly on several occasions.

On Saturday, the South Indian team defeated fellow debutants with goals from Soosai Raj and Charles De Souza. The domination underlined their 2-1 victory over East Bengal in the last round and proved their worth in the top flight of Indian football.

Lajong win shows trust in youth in away rubber 

Shillong Lajong FC, yet again, played a young side against the unpredictable DSK Shivajians. With Juan Quero in ominous form, the Pune side were threatening until Isaac calmed their nerves, giving the visitors a lead. After the re-start, Samuel Lalmuanpuia scored the second for the Reds, but Milan Singh and Bhumij scored to restore parity and add excitement into the game.

Shillong Lajong vs DSK Shivajians was played at a very high tempo and the youth flavour added to its excitement

The game, though, wasn’t over yet. Redeem Tlang headed home from a brilliant cross as Subrata Paul completely missed the flight of the ball. The victory testified Lajong’s belief in youth and their incessant reliance on the talent at their disposal.

 Mumbai could pay for lack of potency in attack 

Mumbai FC finally did something right in the international break i.e. replace their manager Santosh Kashyap with Oscar Bruzon. The Spaniard has tried to spice things up and while the performance was easily better, the score wasn’t. The Mumbai side was held to a goalless draw against Churchill Brothers at home, a result which pushed them even closer to relegation.

Brazilian midfielder Alex Willian hit the post, the closest the team came to scoring. Mumbai played a different system and looked better on the ball and were content with slow and composed build-ups.

Aizawl FC’s resilience put to test 

For many, Aizawl FC had already re-scripted Leicester City’s fairy-tale in Indian football. The team from the North East were looking on be on course to win the I-league, with just four games to spare. Here lies the difference between good and great times. Aizawl FC showed brilliant concentration and resilience at the Kanteerava Stadium against defending champions Bengaluru FC.

Khalid Jamil’s men looked happy with an away draw, but that wasn’t going to happen. New Serbian signing Marjan Jugovic scored in the last minute of injury time to give the home fans something to cheer about. Aizawl FC will now need to be more resilient, if they wish to carve a place in history.

East Bengal naïve to try the same thing and expect different results

As the Kolkata derby unfolded at the Kanchenjunga Stadium, Mohun Bagan took the three points to move to the second spot on the league table, defeating their arch-nemesis East Bengal 2-1. With Sony Norde and Azharuddin Mallick scoring brilliant goals and Rowlin Borges getting a consolation at the very end, it was a game to forget for the Trevor Morgan side.

East Bengal’s Bukenya did well to keep Duffy in check, but Sony Norde was a little too much for him

It is difficult to understand why East Bengal try to do the same thing, and expect different results. The Reds-and-Golds try to play Wedson in the hole with Mehtab and Rowlin providing him security and wingers like Romeo Fernandes, Nikhil Poojari and Jackichand Singh adding the width alongside Ralte and Ruidas. The team plays the same game week in, week out and expect to win it everytime.

Coach Trevor Morgan must understand to stop this. Albeit, no taking away credit from the best side on the pitch. Mohun Bagan had their plans laid out and attacked with vigour from the word go. Sony Norde was the best player for the winning side and the Haitian proved why he’s rated so high.

As the league goes into its final stride with just three matches left, all teams and coaches will be hoping to maximize the returns from the remainder. Let us know about your Team of the Week in the comments’ section below.