Business Standard

Underdogs making I-League title race exciting: Ex-footballer Vijayan


ANI New Delhi [India]
When Aizawl FC won the I-League trophy last season, there was a certain shift of power in the national domestic league from the usual contenders to the underdogs.
Little did anyone expect that the underdog story might be re-written again when the 2017-18 I-League, which was kicked-off in late November.
But as the I-League is comes to its end with less than ten matches to go, the 'underdogs' might very well once again triumph over the 'usual contenders'.
The emergence of Minerva Punjab FC and NEROCA in the top tier of the I-League table has not only shook the structure in the domestic league for this season but captured the essence of sports - the underdog story.
And former Indian footballer IM Vijayan also believes the emergence of underdogs like Minerva FC and Neroca as title-contenders has made the I-League much more exciting than before.
"The I-League is very unpredictable and that is what the last season taught us. This season, it is even more unpredictable and volatile than before as now you have two underdogs gunning for the title", said Indian legend I.M Vijayan.
"It makes the title race even more sweet and exciting to watch. Who could have expected Minerva and Neroca to be in contention for the Hero I-League title in the starting of the season?"
"The more volatile the league is, the more exciting it gets for the players and the more thrilling it gets for the fans. There has always been a nail-biting finish of the Hero I-League season, but this one is different", he added.
Adding to the mix is Gokulam Kerala FC's sterling run where the Bino George coached the team, in the latter half of the season, defeated Mohun Bagan, Kingfisher East Bengal and Minerva FC on the trot, proving that underdogs should seldom be dismissed.
The Indian Arrows, on the other hand, the youngest team in the I-League comprised of teenagers, time and again proved the underdog spirit of fighting and although the boys lost, the young Arrows recouped and fought again, winning some, but most importantly learning in the process.
"When an underdog team beats the favourite to win team, it captures the true essence of the sport", IM Vijayan explains how this edition of the Hero I-league is different from the others, "It showcases how the human being can challenge adversity and still win and come on top."
"It is amazing how much nail-biting action the I-League has provided and once it enters the final match day, it will only get better for the fans, he stated.

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First Published: Feb 27 2018 | 8:45 PM IST

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