Aizawl FC create history, win I-League crown

Aizawl FC create history, win I-League crown

Down and out last season, Aizawl FC scripted a dream success story in Indian football on Sunday, becoming the first team from North-East to win the I-League crown.

In Shillong, they needed a draw in the final league match against local team Lajong to win the crown and they achieved just that, holding the hosts 1-1 in an intense encounter. An early goal from Lajong’s Dipanda Dika (9th minute) looked like spoiling Aizawl’s party. But  William Lalnunfela’s 67th minute strike meant Aizawl played themselves into the annals of Indian football by landing the crown.

It was not long ago that Aizawl was struggling to find a footing in the domestic circuit. Promoted into the 2015-16 I-league on the back of a stellar show in the second division, the side from Mizoram couldn’t replicate the same form on the big stage, finishing eighth and was relegated to the lower division. But with a number of teams pulling out of the I-League this season, the AIFF decided to give Aizawl a second chance and the team grabbed it with both hands.

Over the years, the North-East states had been the supply-line of top talent for clubs in other parts of the country. It was fitting that finally a team from the region emerged on top of the first division league, marching ahead of well-established clubs with far bigger budgets.

Aizawl’s success has been the result of careful planning. Khalid Jamil was roped in as the head coach and the Mumbaikar built his side around the local lads that the team picked from the Mizoram Premier League. In fact just seven of the 31-man squad were from outside the North-East.

Though their foreign recruits Mahmoud al Amna, Alfred Jaryan and Stephane Bayi Kamo sparked Aizawl’s surge, the likes of Laldanmawia and Brandon Vanlalremdika also flourished playing their carefree and fast-paced football. And on Sunday, they climbed the summit in style.

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