Sunday Specials: Expectations in probably the final season of I league

final season

With two games down in perhaps what could be the last season of I-league, FootballCounter takes a look at what awaits in the next 4 months of the league

In the very first game of tenth season of the league, Khalid Jamil’s Aizawl FC managed to draw against one of the tournaments favourites East Bengal putting themselves as one of the sides, too dangerous to be ignored. In the other game, Defending champions Bengaluru FC came to the pitch with the intention of proving that they mean serious business, routing a hapless Shillong Lajong 3-0 at Kanteerava.

While East Bengal’s performances in the first game haven’t been to the expected standard, managing to snatch away a draw against last year relegation team, thanks to their new signing Bukenya’s 90th minute goal. EB will still be expected to be in top 3 Race. The intention for this season is very clearly shown by the signings. Aizawl’s performance has been heartening, under a new Coach who his known for his strong defence line-counter attacking approach. Although they will not be expected to be a strong title contender, they could still be a pretty strong team at home, with the amount of fans backing them up at home.

Also Read: Bukenya’s Last minute strike earns a point for East Bangal in the 10th Hero I-league opener

final season

Both Mohan Bagan and Bengaluru FC are the close contenders for the title

Despite also being the only two clubs in the Asian competition, Bengaluru FC, along with Mohan Bagan looks favourites in the title race once again. Based on their first game performance BFC seem to be on the right path. On the Asian Front the blues face a tricky situation in ACL Qualifiers but they have been known to defy odds and create history and one cannot rule them out this time either. For Mohan Bagan, the AFC Cup group stage should be an easy one with possible challenge from either BFC or EBFC in the group (Depends on Blues qualification in ACL group stages). Fans will be hoping for a Kolkata derby at an Asian level.

Santosh Kashyap, who took an unheralded Royal Wahingdoh to third place finish two years ago, will aim to replicate the same performances with his Mumbai FC side. Interestingly Mumbai are yet to sign a single foreign player for this season and will be coming out with an all Indian line up in the first game of the season.

While Minerva Punjab FC and Chennai city FC are the two unknown teams for this season, they would still be looking for a top half finish. On the other hand, Shillong Lajong and DSK Shivajians would like to improve their last year’s standings.

Churchill Brothers, the only Goan club left after the departure of Dempo, SCG and Salgaocar, could struggle this season after being out of the I-league for two years. Even their performances in the Goa pro league haven’t been encouraging enough.

With ten teams fighting out for four months, the official football league of the country in what could be its final stand against the merger, will look to prove why it deserves to stay.

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