Not long ago, one of the new entrants in the I-league, Rangdajied United FC was cornered in the rock bottom position in the table. The second division champions were obviously finding it difficult to adjust with the rise in the quality of the opponents initially. After hoarding only two wins in an injury marred season, chief mentor, Santosh Kashyap and the Meghalayan outfit parted ways.
It painted a very gloomy and a bleak picture for the debutants as the pressure mounted on the club to stay afloat this season. With a long and difficult path to tread, the club pro-actively took some steps to ensure that the club gives a good account of themselves in the latter of the season. The club made some very astute signings in the winter transfer window, managing to rope in of some influential players.
Ranti Martins joined the RUFC brigade on loan, after his parent club, United SC decided to make some quick money from his deal and get out of the swamp of financial troubles. RUFC has managed to garner three consecutive victories since his arrival, and the Nigerian goal machine has hit the back of the net in all of those fixtures.
Mohun Bagan were vary of the aforementioned fact as they traveled to Shillong for an all important match in Round 20. But all their fears came to life as the home side raced to three nil lead within thirty eight minutes. It all started from a wonder goal by the former Salgaocar man Tomba Singh, followed by strikes from the foreign duo of Kim and Ranti. The only silver lining for the Mariners in the match was Odafa getting on the scoresheet, leaving aside an otherwise an insipid performance. RUFC look very stable in the formation deployed by Herring Shangpliang, wherein Gouramangi Singh and Lamine Tamba hold the center of defence. Club captain Lyngdoh and Tomba Singh has relished the visible alterations in the striking department, giving a morale boost to the whole team as the men upfront are actually paying back the dividends of the midfield investments. The team is now slotted at the eighth position in the league and will be hoping to capitalize on this purple patch to enhance their performance numbers in the upcoming rounds.
The Mariners on the other hand have a steep wall to climb as the season draws to a closure. The congestion of fixtures is now taking a toll on the squad it seems. Coach Karim Bencharifa is under tremendous pressure from the fans and the club admins to pull a rabbit out of the hat and save the Mohun Bagan season. The Mariners have failed to notch up a single win after the winter break, mounting three draws and two losses. The latest loss in Shillong takes the Kolkata club to the ninth position, just four points off the drop zone.
The debutants are all set to create history this season, as they look to clinch the title. The Bangalore based club had a mini torrid time after the break as they bagged a draw against Mumbai FC, followed by a loss against a rejuvenated Rangdajied United. With other clubs hot on their heels, coach Westwood knows that any slip up could prove to be very costly. The Club from the Garden city has since then registered a second win, the latest one against a struggling United club. Captain Sunil Chettri got on the scoresheet again as the Karnataka club piled on the misery for the kolkata side. The South Indian side now stand seven points clear at the top of the table, while United SC are now facing the heat, just three points away from the drop zone.
East Bengal started the campaign a bit late, due to which the Kolkata giants were always hopeful of making a comeback into the title race. But on the contrary, Armando Colaco’s side has lost a lot of ground owing to a series of unwanted draws. After the winter break, the Lal-Holud brigade’s record doesn’t paint a cheerful picture. ( last 5 games, 1 win, 3 draws, 1 win ) . East Bengal drew the last match at home against a gritty Shillong Lajong side looking to capitalize on the topsy turvy form of their hosts. Both the teams muffed chances upfront and gave away possession to share the points at the final whistle. Shillong Lajong now sit at the fifth position with eight draws- four points of the podium finish. East Bengal are still slotted at the seventh.
Oscar Bruzon’s side have stamped their authority throughout the season, but the critics might debate on the fact that the Goan side is now undoing all the good work done earlier in the season. The club played out a disheartening draw at home against Mumbai FC in the last round to stay eight points adrift of the top the table, with a game in hand. Yusif Yakubu restored parity for the Mumbai side after Australian striker Boima Karpeh put the hosts in front, slotting an early spot kick. Chances came and went for the Goan side as Oscar Bruzon helplessly watched his side’s title chances fizz out. Sporting Goa now find themselves positioned at fourth, while Mumbai FC earned a vital point to maintain a three point gap from the relegation zone. Khalid Jamil’s side registered an unbelievable eleventh draw of the season ( 4th in last five), and the former player would be seriously double checking his plans before the next round commences.