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I-league Round 18: Five Talking Points

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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Every team barring Mumbai FC and Churchill Brothers produced handsome performances as the I-league 2017 saw its final lap. . .

The 2017 I-league saw its final round played last weekend. With Aizawl FC needing a draw to win the league, it was set for an interesting debate as Shillong Lajong were ready to be the party-crashers. The North-East side started the scoring at home as the Reds Army showed enormous nerves and grit to give it their all and get to the trophy.

Mohun Bagan did nothing wrong themselves and won 2-1 in a come-from-behind victory. Arguably, the Mariners are still the side to beat in the country and the Federation Cup competition will be heavily followed to see which team wins it.

Here, we take a look at the five Key Points of Round 18:

Bengaluru form huge fillip for Federation Cup and continental campaign

The defending champions gave a good account of themselves and the team looks to be back to their threatening best. Four victories on the trot prove the character of the side and the way they’ve played in the latter part of the season. The Blues are in fine form and look to be one of the best teams going into the Federation Cup this year.

Defeating an inform Churchill Brothers 3-0 without experienced campaigners Sunil Chhetri, John Johnson, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and CK Vineeth show the youthful crux of the side is so talented and deserves game time. Roca should entrust them, like Westwood did, and reap the benefits as well as help Indian football grow.

East Bengal benefitting from fresh ideas and new regime

Ever since the departure of Trevor Morgan, East Bengal have already shown signs of dominance. The Reds-and-Golds defeated the relegated Mumbai FC 4-0, and the manner of victory was commendable. The team played breezy, inter-changing football with a few new names on the pitch and fared well with new ideas.  

Willis Plaza played a good game, ending with a brace and some good chances. Calvin Lobo and Rowlin Borges played a positive game as defensive midfielders, winning the ball higher up the pitch and coordinated the play well. Wedson Anselme, too, looks set to make amends in the Federation Cup.  

DSK and Minerva come off age in last I-league encounter

This game, easily, was the entertainer of the week. If you wanted to enjoy some coffee and football, DSK Shivajians and Minerva Punjab was the game for you. As two young sides came off the tunnel, they played good attacking football from the word go, knowing they had nothing to lose. The home side led 3-0 at the interval, showing their quality and determination.

At the end of 90 minutes, the scoreline read 4-4, the visitors scoring thrice in the last 10 minutes. If the teams had shown such grit, determination, dominance and fighting spirit throughout the tournament, they would have surely got better results. We hope the two sides keep putting in similar displays in the future, as it will speak a lot about the young talent in India.

Mohun Bagan’s character should stand them in good stead

While Aizawl picked up the trophy, no football fan throughout the country said that they deserve it more than Mohun Bagan. The clubs are run differently and if you discount the fact that Aizawl FC were financially weaker, Mohun Bagan did everything in their powers to win the league. They defended well, with Anas Edathodika leading from the front.

Debjit continued his other-worldly form in the I-league and Eduardo was a rock whenever he played. The midfield was always protected well by Sehnaj and captain Yusa gave them enough links there. In attack, Balwant, Jeje and Duffy all worked tirelessly, contributing to the team’s cause. The fight shown by the Mariners holds them in good stead, and they’ll be a force to reckon in the Federation Cup again.

Aizawl FC’s title-win well timed for Indian football

Transition, Merger, Poor I-league and a stronger ISL. Amidst all this, Aizawl FC’s victory shows that football wins, in the end. Everything else is secondary. The Reds’ drew their last game against fellow North East club Shillong Lajong, fighting back from a goal down. This has been their story all season, a team which let in just two goals at home.

Khalid Jamil’s resilience was writ large on his team and the former Mumbai FC’s coach said it wasn’t his or the players’ victory, it was all about teamwork. Jaryan, the captain, let go his striker’s role to add depth to the midfield, and arguably became the season’s best. Rane, too, played more centrally. The Indian football contingent has a few unheralded stars now, and it’s a happy dilemma for National Team coach Stephen Constantine.

Published: Tue May 02, 2017 12:53 PM IST

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