After NEROCA held Chennai City to a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Khuman Lampak Stadium on Monday, the race for the I-League trophy 2018-19 has become hotter. With all the four top teams vying for the title at the same spot, East Bengal has an advantage because it has played fewer matches.
As of now, Chennai City FC is heading the table with 34 points from 16 matches followed by Real Kashmir, 32 points from the same number of matches, Churchill Brothers have 30 points from 17 matches and East Bengal 28 points from 14 matches.
After the postponement of the Real Kashmir-East Bengal match due to bad weather and ground conditions on February 10, the Reach Kashmir coach, David Robertson, rightly told media persons that because of postponement of the match, East Bengal have got the advantage.
"They do not have a tough opponent except us at the moment. East Bengal would have lost points here had the match been held as we were playing very good football," they said.
East Bengal will play Shillong Lajong on February 14, Churchill on February 17, Aizwal FC on February 25, Minerva on March 3 and the match against Real Kashmir was to be played on February 28. While Shillong Lajong stand last in the league table, Aizawl FC and Minerva are placed at eighth and ninth positions. That leaves only Churchill and Real Kashmir as the only threats to East Bengal.
Of the remaining five matches, East Bengal will play three home matches, including the Churchill match and two away matches, of which one is against Real Kashmir. By the time East Bengal faces Real Kashmir, the fate of the league title will be decided.
For East Bengal, which is eyeing a slot in the Indian Super League (ISL) next season, this will be the last and best opportunity to win the I-League for the first time ever since it became I-League from National Football League (NFL) in 2007. And for that, they have to win all their remaining matches without hoping for others to fail.
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