Five things we learned from I-League Round 25

Bengaluru's fairytale I-League triumph, Mohammedan's woes and a lot more as we look at the five things we learned from the round 25 of the I-League...
A historic Matchday 25 of the I-League saw Bengaluru edge Dempo 4-2 and clinch their maiden I-league trophy in their first year in India's premier football competetion.

JSW's investment reaps reward

Bengaluru FC made history when they downed Dempo SC 4-2 to win their maiden I-League title less than a year after coming into existence.  Playing an in-form Dempo team at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium saw them maintain their nerves until the end despite a late comeback by the home side. This group of players have certainly developed a understanding between themselves during the course of the season in their first year. The onus was on them to win against Dempo and they did in some style to bring smiles on the face of the Jindals who took the gamble of investing in the I-League.

Defensive lapses continue to cost Pune FC

Pune FC have been one of the most consistent teams in the I-League through the years but this season they have let themselves down after a good start to their campaign.  For a team which was challenging for the title, they have won just one of their nine league games after the Federation Cup. Their defensive lapses have cost them time and now again and it was evident in their dismal 1-2 defeat at home to East Bengal. Mike Snoei’s team like to attack the opposition, but if you concede twice as many goals as you score then you don’t really have anything in your hand. When you take only seven points from a possible 27 in the league and a total of 13 points from a total of 45 in all competitions, you really have to think about your performance. 
Yakubu has still got it

Yusif Yakubu served a reminder of his skills as he scored a hat-trick against Churchill Brothers. He scored two in four minutes and completed his hat-trick in the second half with a brilliant header to keep Mumbai FC away from the relegation cloud. No wonder that Arnab Mondal, who is arguably one of the best defenders in the country rates him as the “hardest striker” to defend against.

Salgaocar's lack of squad depth

Salgaocar FC started their season on a high with some good victories in their kitty. Following the exit of Claude Gnakpa, their form suffered until the signing of Dudu Omagbemi in the second half of the campaign. Though they did manage to come back into the title race, they dropped crucial points against Rangdajied United, United SC and Sporting Clube de Goa. Had they kept their nerves and probably had more squad depth, they could have stayed in the fray until the final game of the season. The poor results against the above mentioned teams was also due to the fact that coach Derrick Pereira didn’t rotate the squad but the key question is: did he have a big enough squad with top players to step in and perform consistently?

Relegation battle is heading for a photo finish

So it’s pretty clear now that the relegation battle is between two sides: Churchill Brothers and Mohammedan Sporting. Both teams lost their penultimate games of the season quite drastically and find themselves needing a victory in the last game to have any hope of saving their teams from going down. Churchill have a slight advantage amongst the two being a point ahead, but they have a tough task ahead when they face Salgaocar FC. Mohammedan need to win their game against Mumbai and hope Churchill loose in order for them stays afloat. Interestingly Mohammedan play their last game a day before Churchill!