Here's at a look at the five things we could muster from round 24 of the I-League...Round 24 of the I-League saw title challengers Bengaluru FC and Salgaocar FC registering vital away wins from their respective matches. East Bengal made a strong case of being involved in the title race with a victory over relegation threatened Mohammedan Sporting. Dempo SC played an ill-temperred draw against Mumbai FC. The last match saw another stalemate as Churchill Brothers missed their chance to breath safely in the relegation dog-fight after a draw against Sporting Clube de Goa.
|Derrick still rules Balewadi|
Pune FC had just lost a single game at home going into the match against Salgaocar FC, but Derrick Pereira returned to his old stomping ground to register a vital victory that took them closer to Bengaluru FC in the title race. Derrick Pereira coached The Red Lizards for four seasons and he is well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the Pune side. He not only ended Pune’s title hopes but once again proved that he is still the boss at Balewadi Sports Complex.
|Mohammedan look favourites to go down
Mohammedan Sporting succumbled to a demoralising defeat against East Bengal, which made it their fifth loss from the eight games they have played in this calendar year. They are rock bottom with 18 points and look most likely to go down. Josimar da Silva has been the only shining light upfront in their disastrous I-League campaign but the Brazillian cannot alone take the burden of scoring. They have just a single win to show in 2014 as others teams involved in the relegation fight have surged ahead.
|Bengaluru’s centre-back pairing is one of the best
For all the accolades Sunil Chhetri, Sean Rooney and Beikhokhei Beingaichho have received for their attacking play up front, their center-back pairing has kept them rock solid throught their magnificient campaign. Curtis Osano and John Johnson have been the pillars at the heart of their defense as they kept yet another clean sheet last weekend against Mohun Bagan. They negated the influence of Odafa Okolie and Christopher Chizoba with ease. Easily the best centre-back partnership in the league this season and Bengaluru FC owe a lot to them for their successful run.
|Churchill pay for their missed chances
Churchill Brothers came out of the match against Sporting Clube de Goa dejected and dissapointed. They had as many as five clear cut chances of scoring in the opening half hour, but scuffed all of them. The second half saw them create three chances of which they culd convert just one. A game which should have easily gone Churchill’s way ended up with the two teams sharing the points. Churchill had to pay heavily for their missed chances as two points would have done them a world of good at this stage of the season. Playing the AFC Cup and the I-League simultaneously has seen several off their first team regulars missing out due to injuries. Only time will tell if these two points will be crucial going into the final set of games as they look to avoid getting relegated.
| Mumbai FC are the kings of draw
Mumbai FC played out yet another draw this season, which makes it their thirteenth draw which is the highest amongst all teams. Khalid Jamil's outfit have the tendency to close their games out when they know that things are not going that way on the attacking front. They have just four wins overall this season which has always kept them in the bottom half of the table, but as of now their position seems to be safe in eighth position. As they say, 'If you cannot win, ensure that you do not lose.' Mumbai FC embody this statement more than any other side in the league.