2015-16 I-League Round 10: The Start of Act 2

After what was an interesting week for our two sides in AFC Cup action, we return to the I-League where our victorious club in Asia come into the second half of the season leading the table. The Mariners currently lead the table by a single point, without a loss, and are at this point favorites to defend their title, being the first team to accomplish that feat in the I-League era and second team after their Kolkata rivals, East Bengal, accomplished it back in the NFL days (2002-03 and 2003-04). 

The round will begin though in Shillong on Friday with Shillong Lajong looking to re-kickoff their season, hosting last place DSK Shivajians. Lajong have not won a match in the league at all in February (last winning on 31 January against Sporting Goa), however, Thangboi Singto's side could be forgiven somewhat for their lack of good results as all of their matches this month have been away from home. Can home advantage finally see the club return to winning ways? DSK Shivajians, the club from Pune will attempt to make sure that does not happen. Derrick Periera's side have endured a bad first half during their first ever season in the I-League, only gaining one victory from eight matches so far. Their away form is horrendous so far, after drawing Sporting Goa in their opening match, the club has gone on to lose their other three away games, including a 4-1 defeat to Bengaluru FC in their last away game. Shillong Lajong should be favorites here.

Saturday will see the reigning champions, Mohun Bagan, start their second half of the campaign away from home against Salgaocar in Goa. Returning victorious from their AFC Cup match against Maziya, the club will be looking to continue their undefeated run the league. Salgaocar meanwhile will be looking to start the second half of the season as if it was the beginning, after only obtaining one victory during the first half against DSK. The club, now coached by Santosh Kashyap, could not have asked for a tougher test to start the 2nd half and will need to rely on their defense and also for guys like Duffy, Mbarga and company to step up.

The day will finish with Mumbai hosting Sporting Goa in a mid-table clash at the Cooperage Ground. After a good start to the season in January, going undefeated with two victories, the club has endured a bad February which included three defeats and a scoreless draw. Khalid Jamil's side will want to end the month on a high but Sporting Goa, a club that only defeated Mumbai two weeks prior in Mumbai, will look to prevent that. Sporting Goa have had a decent season so far, grabbing victories away from home against Bengaluru FC and Aizawl as well as Mumbai at home. The club also narrowly lost away from home against leaders, Mohun Bagan. Moral should be decent for Sporting Goa going into this match which could prove tough for Jamil and co.

The round will conclude on Sunday with Bengaluru FC hoping to put their misery in Asia behind them at home against Aizawl. The side surprised everyone when they were outdone 2-1 to Lao Toyota in Laos on Wednesday but will have a chance to make it up against a club that could be favorite for relegation, despite victory in their last match. Ashley Westwood's side have had an up and down season so far, starting the season well with 3 victories before defeat in Mumbai showed cracks in the Englishman's side. The Bangalore side then saw victories against East Bengal and DSK Shivajians but also had defeats in between against competitors Mohun Bagan and Sporting Goa, both at home, and during a 3 game home stretch. Along the way, controversy also sprung out about Westwood and his conduct during matches and with what he says. Can Bengaluru FC put that behind them though against an Aizawl side which sees themselves in 7th place currently or will Jahar Das's side spring another surprise?

So there you have it, sorry if this is wordy or trying to much, dang to tired. Also did not have enough time to go through the IFN Blog but I can work on a new version for tomorrow to put there if they allow me.

East Bengal currently has a bye for this round, meaning they won't play against till Tuesday, against Salgaocar.

Friday, 26 February 2016:
- Shillong Lajong vs. DSK Shivajians (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium; 19:00).

Saturday, 27 February 2016:
- Salgaocar vs. Mohun Bagan (Tilak Maidan Stadium; 16:30).
- Mumbai vs. Sporting Goa (Cooperage Ground; 19:00).

Sunday, 28 February 2016:
- Bengaluru FC vs. Aizawl (Sree Kanteerava Stadium; 19:00).

Bye: East Bengal


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