The business end of the I-League season is upon us and the title-race is slowly taking a clear shape. After their dramatic 4-3 win over over Aizawl, Chennai City strengthen their position on top of the table opening up a eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Real Kashmir and NEROCA – who were Chennai’s closest competitors to the title prior to round 12 – dropped points in their games, to hand Chennai a five-point lead at the top of the table which was further increased by a clinical performance against Aizawl on Friday.
Kashmir were involved in a goal-less stalemate against Aizawl, while NEROCA were edged out by Mohun Bagan. Both teams take the field later in the day and any slip-up will only hand Chennai another boost to their maiden title hopes.
Mohun Bagan are practically out of the title race, given they are six points adrift of the league leaders, despite playing one game more.
Meanwhile, East Bengal are on the fourth spot after doing just enough to see off Indian Arrows in Kolkata. However, East Bengal’s chances of clinching the title can be considered rather optimistic. And having failed to beat the league leaders in both their encounters, Alejandro Menendez’s men have only themselves to blame.
Churchill brothers and Real Kashmir are the two teams who can really fancy their chances of replacing Chennai at the top of the table. Churchill have looked strong at home and they will play five out of their eight remaining matches in Goa which will further boost chances of Petre Gigui's men.
Whereas, Real Kashmir are yet to get beaten on the road. The I-League debutants have a chance to get a result against Chennai City when they host them on 28th of this month. Kashmir is the only team to beat Chennai this season and a repeat of the result from the first leg could throw open the title race.
Churchill Brothers held the league leaders to a 2-2 draw when they travelled to Chennai earlier this season. The Goan team host Chennai in the last game of the season on the first of March. If the league leaders fail to secure the title by then, it could very well prove to be a virtual final where the winner will get to walk off with the title.
Chennai are very much in the driving seat in the title race but the campaign is far from over. Roadblocks in the form of Real Kashmir and Churchill Brother could hinder their chances.
This is what the table looks like right now: