LNTUP

Aizawl FC seek to create history in I-League

Photo: Aizawl FC
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Aizawl FC seeks to create history in I-League season-ender vs Shillong Lajong.

All eyes turn to Meghalaya as Aizawl seek history. Aizawl have a clutch clash on their hands as they find themselves on the verge of the unthinkable

Aizawl FC will come out all guns blazing when they face Shillong Lajong in their bid to become the first team from the Northeast to win the coveted I-League football title.

A draw in the North-East derby will clinch it for Khalid Jamil’s men, who have had a wonderful tournament and are likely to finish on 37 points.

Aizawl FC
Photo: AIFF

Expect Khalid Jamil’s men to be clear with their gameplan, they would come seeking a win, but even a point is bliss. But Thangboi Singto’s young charges will be out to hurt them. It is no surprise that The Reds from Meghalaya sit fifth on the table, only two points behind last year’s champions Bengaluru FC. They have a young and vibrant side, who have the ability to hurt any opponent, especially at home.

Aizawl are coming into this tie on the back of a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Mohun Bagan in the last matchday. It was dubbed as a winner-takes-all contest with the odds heavily tilted towards the Mariners, but Aizawl defied those odds and secured a late win thanks to Zohmingliana Ralte’s winner.

But unsurprisingly, Khalid Jamil made it clear that winner did not take all that evening. He reiterated that the job is yet to be done, and he will ensure that this message is drilled down into his players’ minds clearly as well. They’ve come so far, they cannot let it slip now!

But the triumph is not just about a football club but about the socio-political impact that it will have on Indian football. From being providers to clubs, the team from North East have now carved out a niche for themselves. Till date, North East has been the supply line for Indian football — be it through the finishing school of Tata Football Academy or through the various clubs where some of the biggest names of Indian football have played.

From Sikkimese sniper Bhaichung Bhutia to artistic Manipuri medio like Rennedy Singh — North-East’s contribution to Indian football has been immense. Mizoram has been a minefield of talent.

While someone like Pachau Lalampuiya went into oblivion, it is current goal-machine of Indian football Jeje Lalpheklhua, who has captured the imagination of Indian football lovers. Call it irony, Jeje played for Mohun Bagan, the side Aizawl is most likely to pip en rourte their title.

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A host of local players, two unheralded Mumbai boys — Jayesh Rane and Ashutosh Mehta along with Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Al Amna formed an interesting mix of players through their dream season.

Preparation wise there is nothing much that Aizawl is going to do differently, said Jamil adding that Lajong were no pushovers at home and have displayed tremendous grit all along the season. Such is the hype for this clash that thousands of Aizawl fans are expected to make the trip to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong to witness this in person, and to their credit, the hosts have made provisions to accommodate them as well.

Predicted Line Up:

ShilongLajong: Kaith, Khongjee,  Tamang, Konsham, Pritam, Issac, Kinowaki, Nongrum, Pena, Bipin, Dipanda

Aizwal FC: Gomes, Khiangte, Kingsley, Zotea, Lalruatthara, Brandon VL, Laltanpuia, Al Amna, Danmawia, Rane, Bayi