Aizawl FC will try and upscale the Mariners as they face Churchill away while the league leaders travel to Minerva. . .
With just three rounds to go, every team will be either looking to win, to consolidate positions or to avoid the drop. With Mohun Bagan reaching the top of the table earlier this week after defeating East Bengal and drawing against Shillong Lajong, it will be interesting to see Aizawl FC’s attitude this weekend.
With four out of five games getting results last week, the competitiveness has grown. The players are showing an extra bit of vigour and are working harder to get their team the best possible finishes. Minerva Punjab are in a soup currently as Mohun Bagan have complained against them for scheduled unfair training timings to the AIFF. This round is going to be the most important in the context of the league and how it pans out.
Take a look at the preview of I-league Round 16:
Shillong Lajong FC Vs Bengaluru FC
Date & Venue: 15th April/ Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
Time & Broadcast: 02:00 PM/ Ten 2
Another gruelling week of the I-league begins with Northeast club Shillong Lajong hosting defending champions Bengaluru FC. The youthful side had swept aside Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan in the first half in the last encounter but only managed a draw at the end with a Dipanda Dicka penalty, his 10th goal of the season. The diminutive-yet-powerful striker will be key to earning points for the home team.
Singto will be hoping his side continues the good work and is a little more clinical against the defending champions.
On the other hand, Bengaluru FC will be visiting with a positive intent after earning three key points against fellow Northeast club Aizawl FC, with the last minute winner by Marjan Jugovic. Albert Roca’s men will look to hit Shillong Lajong on the counter as they eye to dislodge the team sitting in fourth of the league table, just above them. In the reverse fixture, Bengaluru had defeated Lajong 3-0, with a brace from ‘Flash’ Udanta Singh and Sena Ralte.
Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh and defender Sandesh Jhingan haven’t made the trip owing to minor injuries and Roca didn’t deem it worth risking them given the Blues host Abahani Dhaka on Tuesday. Udanta Singh, who had to be substituted in the 25th minute against Aizawl with an ankle injury, looks like being a late call when Roca decides on the starting XI he will roll out. Amrinder’s injury meant Lalthuammawia Ralte makes it to the squad for the first time since the AFC Cup final in November, post which he picked up an injury himself.
Churchill Brothers Vs Aizawl FC
Date & Venue: 15th April/ Fatorda Stadium
Time & Broadcast: 04:35 PM/
Churchill Brothers rued their missed chances and opportunities when they drew goalless against bottom-of-the-table side Mumbai FC. The Goan club would look to be back to winning ways after going on a run of good form when they defeated Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in consecutive games with the identical scoreline of 2-1.
Aizawl FC, on the other hand, will be hoping that Mohun Bagan drop points and they win to get back to the top of the table. The NorthEast club know that this is a key phase in the league and dropping too many points will not help them. Khalid Jamil, one of India’s finest tacticians will need to find a new feather from his book to revamp and start getting points for his club again. It is a case of now or never for the Mizoram club and their levels of concentration will need to be top notch again, against the heavily improved Goa side.
Aizawl FC need to keep the deadly duo of Wolfe and Kromah under check if they are to get the three points at stake.
In the first leg, Aizawl FC had defeated Churchill Brothers 3-1. Lalramchullova and Kamo Stephane Baye had scored for Aizawl FC, Churchill’s Nongkhlaw getting an own goal. For Derrick Pereira’s side, Ansumana Kromah had scored the only goal.
Minerva Punjab Vs Mohun Bagan
Date & Venue: 15th April/ Guru Nanak Stadium
Time & Broadcast: 07:05 PM/ Ten 2
With controversy riding up on the schedule of practice for the visiting team, this game will be looked upon with higher scrutiny. Mohun Bagan have complained to the AIFF for poor treatment and unrealistic training sessions from the hosts. Off the game problems aside, the home team will need to get their act right and punch heavily above their weight to get the three points. Minerva Punjab have won just one point in their last three games and lost to Chennai City FC 0-2 in their last match.
Mohun Bagan, meanwhile, look the best team in the league. Sanjoy Sen’s men look hungry in attack and dedicated in defence, with only momentary losses in concentration. The Green-and-Maroons are high on morale after a 2-1 victory over arch-rivals East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby and a draw against a fighting Lajong and will start as favourites.
The last time these teams faced each other, Mohun Bagan ran amok at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium. Talismanic strikers Jeje Lalpekhlua and Darryl Duffy both scored braces to blank the league debutants. Lalpekhlua, in particular, will be hoping to return to the starting lineup after a good finish against Shillong which earned the Mariners a draw.
East Bengal Vs DSK Shivajians
Date & Venue: 16th April/ East Bengal ground
Time & Broadcast: 04:35 PM/ Ten 2
East Bengal have been themselves this season, yet again. The Kolkata giants lost 2-1 to arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in the last game and will be looking to get their act right at home against the stuttering DSK Shivajians side. A faction of East Bengal fans are already asking for Trevor Morgan’s resignation and it will be interesting to see how the Reds-and-Golds play at home, hoping to win the three points.
Dave Rogers will expect more concentration and greater efficiency from the team in the attacking third.
On the other hand, a fighting DSK Shivajians lost its last encounter at home against Shillong Lajong, with Redeem Tlang scoring in the 93rd minute, ending all hopes of a comeback. The Pune-based team had fought back from 2-0 down to level matters with Milan Singh and Pranjal Bhumij scoring. The team will be looking to keep up the good work and pile more agony on East Bengal.
In the first leg, East Bengal had defeated the hosts with goals from Wedson Anselme and Willis Deon Plaza doing the trick while Gourmangi scored the only one for DSK.
Mumbai FC vs Chennai City FC
Date & Venue: 16th April/ The Cooperage Stadium
Time & Broadcast: 07:05 PM/ Ten 2
After taking over from Santosh Kashyap in the international break, Mumbai FC coach Oscar Bruzon has tried to make changes to the languishing team’s attitude and gameplay. The improvements were on display in the last game against Churchill Brothers, Mumbai coming as close as hitting the post. Although the game ended goalless, Mumbai will be hoping to fight and win three points against I-league debutants Chennai City FC.
It wouldn’t be easy for Mumbai though. Chennai City have been in fine form recently, defeating Kolkata giants East Bengal 2-1 and Minerva Punjab FC 2-0 in their last two games. The V Soundararajan team has displayed grit, determination and unity on the pitch, something which is helping them well. Soosai Raj and Charles De Souza are feeding off well from each other and Chennai will be hoping to get three more points in their kitty.
In the reverse fixture, the South Indian club had defeated the Mumbaikars 2-1 with Dhanpal Ganesh and Charles De Souza disturbing the net in front of home fans. For the visitors, Anderson De Silva had scored the first goal of the game.