The top two teams kept pace at the top while Mumbai FC continued their winless streak…
It was another enthralling week of action in the I-League as Mohun Bagan and Aizawl both won while East Bengal had their title hopes dashed. Here’s a look at the Team of the Week and the key takeaways from the weekend’s games.
1. Bengaluru FC dominate youthful Shillong Lajong
The defending champions are slowly recovering their form and points in the I-league. Having defeated Aizawl FC with a 95th minute winner from new signing Marjan Jugovic in the last round, The Blues ensured they didn’t wait that long against another North East club Shillong Lajong in Round 16.
With Sunil Chhetri firing on all cylinders, it was sheer domination from the club from India’s Silicon Valley. Shillong did have their fair share of chances, but couldn’t really convert them as they would’ve liked it. Bengaluru FC have moved to fourth on the league table and will hope to dislodge the faltering East Bengal with two games to go.
2. Title contenders Aizawl FC keep up the pace outclassing Churchill Brothers
Khalid Jamil’s Aizawl FC have been India’s Leicester City this season, and the former Mumbai FC coach ensured that the exploits weren’t fluke. Aizawl FC travelled to the Tilak Maidan, faced an in-form Churchill Brothers and swept them away 3-1. Stephane Kamo Baye scored a terrific brace and Robert Laldanmawia added another.
This victory can be very important in context of the league. If Mohun Bagan lose points, Aizawl FC can sneak to a league victory and for that, they’ll have to ensure they do not drop points. The next game is between these two teams and it is to be played at Aizawl’s home. That game can be a virtual title decider.
3. Mohun Bagan look on course of another league title after defeating Minerva
Mohun Bagan travelled to Minerva Punjab amidst a lot of controversy over their schedule of training. Nothing mattered on the day of the game as the Mariners got their three points with a Sony Norde winner in the 84th minute. The team has won a lot of games with games late into a game and this says volumes about their attitude towards winning.
This victory will make Mohun Bagan’s cruise towards the title more comfortable as they sit atop the table with 33 points, having lost lesser games than Aizawl FC. If Bagan are to win their second I-league title in three years, they need to defeat the North East club in the next round, a game already being touted to be a title decider.
4. East Bengal suffer another jolt as DSK defeat them
East Bengal’s phase of self-destruction seems to be continued as they fell to another defeat at the hands of DSK Shivajians at home. The Reds-and-Golds have now lost four games on the trot, which has killed all their ambitions to win the league title in the 14th attempt. Manager Trevor Morgan looks set to be shown the door and the team already looks in tatters.
What is even more baffling is the fact that the players are not fighting enough. The attitude looks dry and jaded, and with no real inventiveness, the team has been easily outplayed by every opposition in the last phase of the league. East Bengal play debutants Minerva Punjab at home in their next game and the I-league debutants will hope to rub more salt at their wounds.
5. Mumbai FC relegation fears grow as they play out a goalless draw against Chennai City FC
Mumbai FC seem to be doing all the right things since the international break. They’ve got a new and better coach in Oscar Bruzon, the side looks revitalized and is playing a better brand of football. It just doesn’t seem to be clicking for them. After Alex Willian hit the post last week against Churchill Brothers at home, the chances, once again, went begging for the home team.
The Yellow Submarine will be hoping to avoid relegation, which seems inevitable now. On the other hand, debutants Chennai City FC have given a good account of themselves as they have held their own amidst senior campaigners since the arrival of coach V Soundararajan.