The I-League title could be decided next weekend when underdogs Aizawl FC hosts domestic heavyweights Mohun Bagan in the penultimate match of the season after both teams gritted out wins in their respective matches on Saturday. Aizawl defeated Churchill Brothers 3-1 in challenging conditions in Goa while Sony Norde’s late goal against Minerva Punjab ensured Bagan stayed in the hunt.
Both, Bagan and Aizawl, have 33 points from 16 matches but the Kolkata giants lead the table owing to better goal difference. The two teams square off next Saturday in Aizawl in a potentially title-deciding tie. If Bagan win, then they will be crowned champions no matter what happens in the final round of matches a week later.
As per the I-League rules, if two teams are level on points, their position will be determined on the head-to-head results between them during the season. In their earlier meeting, Bagan had beaten Aizawl 3-2. However, if the Mizoram-based side beats Bagan, then the champion will be decided on the final day of the season where Aizawl travel to Shillong while Bagan play Chennai City FC.
Going by how the two teams played on Saturday, Bagan’s task will be cut out. Many had expected Khalid Jamil-coached Aizawl to slip up against Churchill, who have been formidable at home this season. But the North Easterners showed they are up for the challenge, putting up a professional performance against the former champions.