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I League: Chennai City FC clinches its maiden I-League title

I League: Chennai City FC clinches its maiden I-League title

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Published: 9 March 2019 2:08 PM GMT
Chennai City were crowned champions in the I-League as they defeat Minerva Punjab 3-1 in Coimbatore to lift their maiden I-League trophy. This is yet another historic triumph in the competition after Aizawl FC’s glory in the 2016-17 season and Minerva Punjab FC’s surprising display in the previous season. We now have three different and new winners in the last three seasons of the I-League. Roland Bilala's early goal at 3' gave Minerva a shock lead. It was equalised by Pedro Manzi (56' Pen.) who scored from the spot. Gaurav Bora's brace (69' and 90+3') sealed the deal after that for Chennai. In the other potentially important match of the day, East Bengal came from behind to defeat Gokulam Kerala 2-1 After a low-lying eighth-place finish in the previous years’ I-League, no one would have cashed their money on the South Indian team to stage a fruitful comeback. But the tables turned once the management recruited Singaporean coach Akbar Nawas. With the help of his assistant coach, Akbar assembled a talented pool of players which mainly included Spanish players and local talents. They built a team which followed the Spanish style of football, their dominance and passing football was so effective that by the half-way in the league, Chennai City FC was way ahead of the rest of the pack. The trio of Pedro Manzi, Nestor Gordillo and Sandro Rodriguez was class apart throughout the season. The positive side for Indian football is the emergence of young local talents who have played at par with their foreign compatriots. Edwin Vanspaul has been a player to watch out for, he has had an exceptional season. Alexander Jesuraj sparkled throughout the I-League with his excellent runs down the wings, providing assists and even scoring in a couple of occasions. A special mention to Pravitto Raju, who has also grabbed eyeballs with his sensational football this season. This is just the beginning for the club, they need to keep up the momentum to establish itself as one of the top clubs in Indian football. They are likely to play in the I-League next season (granted it continues), unlike some of the outfits who might shift to the Indian Super League. Their next assignment will be the Indian Super Cup which kicks off later this month, following which they will prepare for the qualifying rounds of the AFC Champions League.
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