As this year’s I-League is heading towards its conclusion, the league table has already taken shape. With the points table not much changed from that of the previous match day, some of the vital aspects of each team have changed with the time. Khel now picks five of the most important things that have been evident with the clubs in the recently concluded round.
Watertight back four is the secret to Aizawl’s success
After a disastrous previous season, the northern club has bounced back in the I-League this year. Aizawl FC appointed Khalid Jamil at the beginning of the season and the rest have been only upwards for the Reds. Compact gameplay, more precisely, a very carefully packed defence has been the key for the Highlanders in the 10th edition of the I-League which has denied league giants such as East Bengal and Bengaluru FC score the winner past their rearguard this season.
The Mizoram-based club is currently positioned at the second place with a goal difference of 7, conceding only nine goals in the process. As the season has progressed, Aizawl has emerged as one of the most dependable defensive units in the league and continues to thrive depending on their defensive prowess.
East Bengal show title credentials in win against Shillong Lajong
The Kolkata giants started their season slowly but managed to ladder up to the top of the table in no time. The Red and Gold Brigade defeated Shillong Lajong FC by a score of 2-1 courtesy to the newcoming fourth foreigner with the Asian quota, Chris Payne, who scored a brace handing over the Kolkata giants three points in Shillong.
With a hard fought win against the Shillong-based side, East Bengal has almost sealed their title hunt, displaying a never-say-never attitude in their performance in the Meghalaya capital. The Kolkata side showed both passion and aggression against Shillong and played a team game without two of their top scorers Wedson Anselme and Willis Plaza and yet managed to win the game, entitling the display as champion material.
Churchill expose chinks in Bagan armour
Mohun Bagan was thumped against league minnows Churchill Brothers on Sunday evening at Tilak Maidan when Derrick Pereira’s men shocked the Mariners in a narrow 2-1 defeat. Defensive woes have been a prime concern for Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen since the beginning of the season and Churchill exploited the exposure of the Mohun Bagan defence at their home which might fatal to Mohun Bagan’s title chances this year.
The Green and Maroons have been criticised by several pundits for their defensive attributes this year and this might be the beginning of the end of the Kolkata side’s title hunt in the league this season.
Bengaluru FC unconvincing in first win in six weeks
The defending champions had undergone a managerial change at the beginning of the season when they appointed Albert Roca replacing serial title-winning coach Ashely Westwood. Since then, the Blues are finding it hard to replicate performances in the current season which has seen them not winning a single game in the last six before winning against league newcomers Minerva Punjab FC at Ludhiana.
Minerva has been one of the poorest performers in the league this season and considering the fact Bengaluru had to fight hard to earn three points against the Punjab-based side is clear evidence of their recent downgrading performance.
Mumbai needs to act fast to avoid relegation
Another classic scenario of failure, Mumbai FC failed to register three points against Aizawl on the last match day which has put them at the bottom of the league with only nine points. Santosh Kashyap, the Mumbai FC coach, has been widely criticised since their first defeat of the season against Bengaluru FC but with an unconvincing turn of events, their performance over the games has only downgraded and has now reached a critical position of relegation from the top tier of Indian football.
Mumbai’s downfall has been speculated widely this season and all the speculations have ended with Kashyap losing his touch from his approach towards the game and losing the Mumbai dressing room on the way. With the slightest possibilities of avoiding such feat, Mumbai needs to act quickly and replace their current head coach with a more suitable and dependable personality if they want to remain in the premier division for the next year.