I-League Round 13: Five Talking Points
East Bengal lost ground in the title race, while Aizawl maintained theirs. Mohun Bagan's hopeful late surge as one of the contenders took a hit, while Bengaluru FC failed to gain three points yet again. Here are the five talking points of the Round 13...
1. East Bengal might have bottled it again
As we predicted in the last round, the title was East Bengal's to lose. With fellow title contenders Aizawl FC still inexperienced, and with a manager like Trevor Morgan at the helm, one expected the Red and Gold Brigade to build on their one-point lead. But somehow, it wasn't meant to be. Morgan's charges fell prey to a resurgent Churchill Brothers side, clouding doubts over their title credentials. Arguably, it was East Bengal's best chance of landing their maiden I-League title since 2007, but it seems that it won't be East Bengal's year yet again. Have they bottled it again?
2. Roca still the right man for Bengaluru FC
A Handful of them are calling for his head, while the rest believe Albert Roca is still the right man. The latter seem to be sensible. After leading the Blues to a magical AFC Cup Final run last year, people expected Roca's side to steamroll the sides in the I-League. But it was always going to be difficult with a new side and in a new league. With rivals in East Bengal and Mohun Bagan further strengthening, Roca had a laborious task at his disposal. The Blues ended their 7 game winless run with a scrappy win against Minerva Punjab FC in the previous round. They could not, however, finish off newbies Chennai City FC. What's been witnessed in such games is a tinge of positiveness and improvement from the previous game, something you expect from a top side. Installing a philosophy is not a day job, and Blues are better off keeping the Spaniard at the helm and not the other way round.
3. Aizawl FC showing winners mentality
'Grinding out wins' is a term you will see associated with teams all over the world who have won the leagues. Aizawl FC are following a similar path. On Wednesday, when a resilient DSK Shivajians side refused to bend against Khalid Jamil's young guns, Aizawl kept on going and almost against the run of play, netted the winner at the death. While they were not deserved winners on the day, points gained from performances like these prove vital when the eventual title winners are decided.
4. Churchill Brothers on the rise
After making headlines within a week by upsetting Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in back to back games, Churchill Brothers see themselves on the rise. Derrick Pereira's introduction has brought a new lease to The Red Machines side. With a fight for survival no more looking like a concerning issue, they are now aiming a finish in the top half if the man himself is to be believed. 5 points separate them from the bottom-placed Mumbai FC, while 2 from the top half. If their resurgence of late continues, Pereira's prophecy could well turn into reality.
5. Kashyap making headlines for the wrong records
2012-13 ONGC, 2013-14 Rangdajied United, 2014-15 Royal Wahingdoh, 2015-16 Salgaocar. One common factor associated with all these teams is Santosh Kashyap, and all of them have gone down or shut down after Kashyap has managed them. Of the aforementioned teams, the former India International did commendable work only with Royal Wahingdoh, finishing 3rd. And Kashyap is en route adding another club to the list. Mumbai FC's fate is as good as decided, with survival looking bleak. And if our sources are to be believed, Mumbai FC will be shut down if they do not avoid the drop. Another club managed, another club shut down, and this time around, it was no coincidence for Santosh Kashyap, who led to Mumbai's demise.