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I-League Round 17: Five Talking Points and Team of the Week

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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Aizawl went clear at the top of the table while there were goals galore for Churchill and Bengaluru...

It was another fascinating weekend of action in the I-League as teams jostled for positions in the penultimate round of games. Aizawl edged out Mohun Bagan in a tight affair to open up a 3-point lead at the top as Churchill Brothers and Bengaluru FC hsammered Chennai City and DSK Shivajians respectively. On Sunday, East Bengal won for the first time in four weeks beating Minerva Punjab at home, while relegated Mumbai FC and high-flying Shillong Lajong played out a 1-1 draw. Here's our Team of the Week and the five key things we learned from the games.

Laid out in a 3-4-3 formation, this team can outplay any opposition with the right balance of defensive onus and ball-holding capacity in the attacking sphere.

Aizawl prove title credentials with gritty win over Bagan

The virtual title decider was easily the match of the league. While Aizawl FC was creating a fairy-tale for them, it was a job at hand for the 2014 title winners Mohun Bagan. Both teams were tied in terms of points and at a picturesque Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, the beautiful game unfolded under clouds.

Played at a good pace, Aizawl FC V Mohun Bagan had et al: Fans, positive football, attacking impetus and strategical quality.

Aizawl FC won the game 1-0 with a Zohmingliana Ralte’s goal in the 83rd minute and can proudly boast of having one hand at the trophy. The Khalid Jamil’s side have proven their title credentials with a brilliant campaign; being resolute defenders and vehement attackers. The league title is now for Aizawl FC to lose.  

Pereira revitalises career in Churchill stint

Ever since his appointment as the Churchill Brothers coach, Derrick Pereira has taken the team to better heights in terms of game-play and attacking impetus. The experienced coach was recently appointed as the Head of Youth Development by FC Goa, which shows how important his stint has been for his career.

After a draw at Mumbai FC and a 3-1 defeat at home against ‘to-be’ champions Aizawl FC, the side was on a mini-lull. In the penultimate round, Churchill faced Chennai City FC in a South Indian derby. The Goan side washed aside Chennai’s fight to defeat them 6-1, with midfielder Bektur leading the line with four goals and Brandon making four assists and scoring another.  

Bengaluru back to dominant best at last

As Chennai City was being thrashed by Churchill Brothers 6-1, one man in the Sree Kanteerava must have been watching the game: Sunil Chhetri. The National team captain may have decided to do one better, and boy, he did it in such great way. Bengaluru FC defeated DSK Shivajians 7-0, the captain contributing with a brace and assists.

The Blues are on a run of three victories on the trot in the league and look to have got their mojo back. They’re at their devastating best at times and have grown into confidence. Albert Roca might just save his job, as the performances have been strong off late.  

Too little too late for East Bengal

After East Bengal’s 3-1 victory over Minerva Punjab, I asked a Red-and-Golds supporter his feelings on the victory. He retorted, “Aar ki laabh?”, which means there’s no use of these victories anymore. Such has been the side’s doldrums this season that they’ve had to change three coaches already, one due to injury reasons.

Too little too late can also be used for Jackichand Singh.

If East Bengal have to be successful again, they need to look at the model setup in their rivals’ house. Bring in a coach, give him a little time and his team and let him apply his ideas. Ensure that the CV is strong and has won titles. This way, they can ensure the fans are happy and satisfied with the decision. Also, the manager must be good, attacking football as it has always been a requisite of East Bengal football.

Mumbai’s relegation a big blow to football in the metropolis

Khel Now has done a lot of interviews with footballers from Maharashtra, and a huge number of credit their success story or a stepping stone went to Mumbai FC. Such has been the effect of the club on the Indian financial capital that the game will suffer a huge blow, and it surely depends on how the club ideates to continue after relegation.

Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Yuta Kinowaki were immense in the game as both teams looked to sit back and attack on the counter

The club let in a goal in the dying moments in the last game against Shillong Lajong, which saw them mark a certainty over their relegation fears. We hope the management decides to continue the good work they’ve done in the footballing hemisphere in the state. We hope the team continues to receive the magnanimous support from the Yellow Brigade and the fans have more to cheer about in the next or the subsequent seasons.

 

Published: Mon Apr 24, 2017 02:27 PM IST

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