Aizawl FC are just one point away from winning the Hero I-League title after beating Indian football giants 1-0 on Saturday at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Aizawl.
Aizawl remain the team who have achieved the most wins so far this season, quite something for a side who were a relegated, forced back because of management decisions and therefore expected to be one of the frontrunners to crash out. On the other hand, having won the title in 2015 and coming second last season, Mohun Bagan were favourites to win.
And here they were on level points heading into the game but with Bagan having a superior goal difference, a draw making their chances likely and a loss meaning they would be out of their maiden title race.
Visibility blighted the start of the match with rain and fog descending on the 11,203 fans inside the stadium and a couple of thousand watching from the bank outside the grounds. The conditions briefly stopped play a couple of times near the half-time mark.
But despite the bad conditions, the support for the home team inside the stadium was absolutely overwhelming with loud chants and chorus’ accompanying every forward pass from a red shirt.
The game remained goalless right up until the 83rd minute when Zohmingliana Ralte netted the decider who headed home putting his side in pole position.
After the match, Aizawl head coach Khalid Jamil said: “When I took charge of this club, never thought we would come this far. A 2-0 win would have been ideal but this victory tastes great because the players worked very hard while enjoying every moment of the game. Good to head the points table, but next match with Lajong (April 30) (is) most crucial (if we are) to become champions.”
Aizawl with 36 points from 17 matches, face Shillong Lajong FC next weekend, but even a draw will ensure they are the first team from the north-east to win the I-League.