Kolkata: The I-League 2017 season started in January, with most expecting it to be a three horse battle between the two giants of Kolkata football namely East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and the defending champions Bengaluru Fc. Yet this season things have been different. As the season as reaches its final leg an unlikely contender in the form of Aizawl Fc have taken the league by storm. They are joint on points with league leader’s Mohun Bagan and the only thing that separates the two is goal difference.
The summit clash between the two is set to take place on April 22, 2017 at Aizawl’s home ground, Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.
The league trophy is up for grabs in what is set to be the penultimate clash for both the clubs. If Mohun Bagan win the match, they win the title but if Aizawl FC win the game by two goals then they shall be crowned champions. If it’s a draw, or Aizawl win by a solitary goal, then the title race goes down to the last round of matches the following weekend.
A victory will make Aizawl FC the first team from the Northeast region of India to win a top-tier soccer title in the country.
“Aizawl FC have been playing extraordinary football in all their matches. Anything can happen on the pitch tomorrow (Saturday), but the pressure is more on the home side as it is a must-win situation for them, not us,” Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said ahead of the crucial I-League match.
Aizawl FC forward Brandon Vanlalremdika though said his team was not feeling any extra pressure and would treat the game like any other. “All our players are relaxed and though this match is important, we are treating it as any other I-League match and our focus is on giving it our best.” he said.
Aizawl weren’t even supposed to be playing this season in the I-league as last season they were relegated to the second division. A number of clubs though decided to back out before the 2016-17 league began, citing displeasure over the uncertainty surrounding the future of the league. This allowed Aizawl to be reinstated among the 10 teams for the current season and since then the side has not looked backed.
Aizawl’s rise has been something sensational. While many have been comparing Aizawl’s fairy-tale run to that of defending Premier league champions Leicester City, Aizawl must lift the league trophy to follow the former’s footpath.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times)