I-League - Aizawl vs Mohun Bagan: The Possibilities Explained
The I-League title hunt is a two-horse race now with East Bengal's title challenge all but over following their home loss to DSK Shivajians.
Come April 22nd, the North East powerhouse Aizawl FC and the Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan AC will battle it out for the 'holy grail', the I-League trophy, in a potential finale at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl.
The excitement in Aizawl is sky-high as it is the first time that a team from the North East has come this close to lifting the I-League trophy. Aizawl fans would be desperately hoping that the last chapter in their fairytale would provide them with a happy ending and not a tragic one.
Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, will look to satisfy their insatiable hunger for the I-League title with an outright victory against Aizawl.
Both teams have managed to accumulate 33 points from 16 matches but Bagan having beaten Aizawl 3-2 at home, has a slight advantage going into this tie with head-to-head results used as the primary tie-breaking criteria in the I-League. According to I-League's ranking system, if two or more teams are tied on points at the end of the league, the top position shall be determined by head-to-head results, followed by the goal difference in the head-to-head matches. If the teams still can not be separated then the overall goal difference shall come into play.
So what happens if Aizawl wins the match?
If Aizawl can register a victory by 2 or more goals then Aizawl FC will set a new benchmark and lift the I-League trophy for the first time. However, if Aizawl FC wins by a 1 goal margin then the fate of the I-League will be decided in the last round. Aizawl would just need a draw against Lajong to be crowned as the champions. A loss, on the other hand against Lajong, can be nothing short of a disaster as Bagan can usurp them right in the end, provided they win their last match against Chennai City.
What happens if Mohun Bagan wins the match?
Regardless of the scoreline, a win for Bagan will make them champions for the 2nd time in 3 years.
What happens if the match is a draw?
A draw between Bagan and Aizawl would mean that it would be Bagan's title to lose, going into the last round. Bagan would then need a win against Chennai City at home regardless of Aizawl's result, to lift the coveted I-League trophy. On the flipside, Aizawl will have to depend on Bagan dropping points at home and they themselves will have to defeat Shillong Lajong to be champions.
Mohun Bagan will be cautious going into the penultimate round of the league. The last time they visited Aizawl, Bagan were completely outplayed by an Aizawl side flirting with relegation.
However, Bagan are cognizant of the pressure in big games as they snatched the I-League title from Bengaluru in the dying embers of the title deciding game in the 2014-15 season.
Aizawl FC, on the other hand, will have the full support of their vociferous fans, who promises to shatter all decibel levels.
All these factors coming into play will certainly make the potential I-League finale a match for the ages.
Follow Abhishek Mukherjee on Twitter - @theabhishekway