Predictably, the race for the 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) playoff spots has been a hot one and only looks to be getting more complicated with each passing game. With the league well and truly at its business end, two teams – FC Goa and Bengaluru FC – have confirmed their spots in the top four while the remaining two playoff spots remain up for grabs.
Here, we look at the various teams still in contention for the two remaining spots and what they need to do in their upcoming matches to guarantee a place in the top-four.
NORTHEAST UNITED FC
Points - 28
The Highlanders had an impressive first half of the campaign under new head coach Eelco Schattorie but have stuttered in recent times. Even then, they remain in pole position to confirm a playoff spot. They squandered their most recent opportunity to do that after being held to a 1-1 draw by Pune City but a win against Kerala at Kochi will definitely secure it.
NorthEast can qualify for the playoffs even with a loss to Kerala should Jamshedpur fail to win even one of their remaining league fixtures.
MUMBAI CITY FC
Points – 27
Pune City v Mumbai City – March 2, 2019
At one point in the season, Mumbai City were looking like the team to beat as they stitched together an unbeaten run of nine games which culminated with a 1-0 victory against Bengaluru FC. However, things have since gone sour for the Islanders who have tasted three losses on the trot at the hands of FC Goa, Jamshedpur and most recently, the NorthEast.
Despite that horrendous run, Jorge Costa and his men need to win just one of their upcoming fixtures against ATK and Pune City to book their place in the top-four. Mathematically, Mumbai can progress to the playoffs by earning a draw in either of their two games too should Jamshedpur fail to win even one of their remaining fixtures.
Points – 23
Jamshedpur FC v Bengaluru FC, February 27, 2019
Like Mumbai and NorthEast, Jamshedpur too were impressive in the first half of the campaign before the wheels began to come off. Cesar Ferrando and his men’s playoff hopes took a big beating when they were handed a 4-1 thrashing at home by Pune City and they will now rely on some other results going their way if they are to make the top four.
Firstly, Jamshedpur will need to win both their remaining fixtures and then hope that Kerala can beat NorthEast at Kochi. That should guarantee a playoff berth for Ferrando’s men. Should Kerala earn a draw at Kochi, it would then come down to head-to-head record between the two sides.
Alternatively, Jamshedpur could hope that Mumbai City fail to win both their remaining matches. In the case of two draws, Mumbai could take their points tally to 29 and that is total Jamshedpur can equal with two wins. Should that happen, Jamshedpur could progress through a better head-to-head record with Mumbai.
In both cases, Jamshedpur will need to win both of their remaining fixtures first and foremost.
Points – 21
ATK v Mumbai City – February 22, 2019
ATK v Delhi Dynamos – March 3, 2019
With just 21 points from their 16 games, ATK’s playoff dreams are living on a prayer. Steve Coppell and his men need nothing short of a miracle and a total collapse from Mumbai City to have any chance of making the top-four.
The Kolkata side will need to win both of their remaining fixtures and then hope that Mumbai fail to pick up a single point from their upcoming matches. In addition to that, they will also need Jamshedpur to falter and fail to win at least one of their remaining two fixtures.
The only thing going for ATK is that their two remaining clashes are at home but their fate ultimately remains well out of their own hands.