Business Standard

Underdogs making I-League title race exciting: Vijayan


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Former Indian footballer IM Vijayan feels the emergence of underdogs like Minerva FC and NEROCA as title-contenders has made the I-League more exciting than before.

The Hero 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 Vijayan.

When darkhorse Aizawl FC scripted a scintillating story by winning the last edition of I-League there was a certain shift of power in the national domestic league from the usual contenders to the underdogs.

Little did anyone expect the same story would be re-written again this season. But as the I-League comes to its end the underdogs might very well once again triumph over the usual contenders.

The emergence of Minerva Punjab FC and NEROCA to the top tier of the Hero 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.

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? Vijayan said.

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.

Add to the mix minnows Gokulam Kerala FCs spectacular run where the Bino George coached team, defeated Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Minerva FC on the trot, proving that underdogs should seldom be dismissed.

The Indian Arrows, the youngest team in the Hero I-League comprising of teenagers, time and again proved the underdog spirit of fighting and although the boys lost, they recouped and fought again, winning some and most importantly learning in the process.

When an underdog team beats the favourite it captures the true essence of the sport, Vijayan explained.

It (I-League) showcases how the human being can challenge adversity and still win and come on top. In this edition, you have two underdogs who against all odds have come up and now are title contenders. And then you have the mid-table teams who play against top-table teams and beat them, Vijayan said.

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First Published: Feb 27 2018 | 4:15 PM IST

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