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Aizawl FC - The Pride of North East India

Posted on Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A windy evening in Shillong, the temperature is dropping as the clock ticks closer to kick off followed by a drizzle at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The fans of both teams turned up in numbers to witness the north-east derby, little did they know that they will be watching a football game that will be in the history books for years to come as Aizawl FC become the Champion of the Hero I-League 2016-2017 in their second spell at the highest football league in India.

Aizawl needed anything better than a defeat to claim the Hero I-League title and bring the Trophy to the north east for the first time since the inception of the I-League. The home team took the lead 9minutes after the first whistle and held their lead past the half hour mark until super-sub William Lalnunfela put the teams of level terms in the 67minute of the game, Aizawl FC earned a hard fought point to win the Hero I-League 2016-2017.

The man responsible for Aizawl FC's revival - Head Coach, Khalid Jamil lost two of his men Captain Alfred and Ashutosh due to suspension, the gaffer has the job of fielding a balanced and strong team to play against a Shillong Lajong team that is free of injuries and suspension.

Lajong started the game with the top scorer of the League - Dipanda Dicka with Samuel upfront, Aizawl once again rely on the strength of Bayi Kamo to lead their attack. The fans that were in attendance were treated to end to end action right after the whistle.

The home team won the first corner of the match in the 3rd minute but failed to make it count, Aizawl FC took advantage on the counter as Brandon darted from the right to deliver a low cross ball for Kamo, but his effort was thwarted by Lajongs backline before it could reach Kamo inside the box.

Dipanda Dicka once again in the lime light with a goal, the best striker in the league directed his header goalward off the bar and past the goal line despite being surrounded by three defenders, 9 minutes into the game, the home team is playing good football and are in the drivers seat with a goal.

Aizawl made their intentions clear as the clock ticks toward the half time with numerous attempt on goal, Lajong were saved at the goalline by Redeem in the 34th minute, the team from Mizoram fought hard for to equalise, taking chances and missing a pile of chances as they failed to find the equaliser before the half time.

William Lalnunfela came on at the start of the second half, replacing defensive midfielder Laltanpuia, at this point it is obvious that Khalid is playing his attacking cards.

Aizawl had a bright start in the second half as Lajong decided to park the bus to defend their one goal lead, Jayesh Rane took his chance on goal 30yards out, his effort barely missed the target, the creative midfielder had a clear chance on goal a minute later but blasted his shot well over the bar.

In the 60th minute Aizawl thought they got their equaliser with a header by William Lalnunfela only to be ruled offside.
The forward finds target for the second time, beating goalkeeper Vishal Kaith to an open goal as the keeper was off position rushing to a flick off the head of William as the ball floats in from a spot kick by Lalramchullova, super sub William Lalnufela reacted quickly at the right time to tap the ball home, with 23minutes of play the teams are level.

Aizawl were denied a lead in the 64minute at the goalline by goal keeper Vishal Kaith after Kamo backheels the ball goalward amidst a melee inside the box, the action continues at the opposing end as Fabio failed to connect with the ball at the far post, a close shave for the men in white.

Shillong Lajong came all guns blazing in the extra time and nearly scored their match winner but missed their chances in consecutive minutes.

The referee blows the final whistle of the match, a massive result for the whole north east. The Hero I-League trophy will stay in the north east at Aizawl the capital city of Mizoram, the home of Aizawl FC the Indian Champion.

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