Sunday will mark the end of 2017 chapter of India’s top-flight league. The battle lines are drawn between Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan for the coveted trophy but it is not each other that they must fight on Sunday.
Khalid Jamil and company take on fellow North-eastern outfit Shillong Lajong in the ultimate clash whereas Sanjoy Sen’s Mariners will lock horns with Southerners Chennai City FC.
The Mizoram outfit will be content with a draw against Thangboi Singto’s lads as they just need one point to seal the championship. However, the fixture on Sunday won’t be an easy one for the visiting side.
Defender Ashutosh Mehta and Liberian midfielder Alfred Jaryan are set to be on the absentees' list for the all-important clash. The duo has been sidelined on account of having picked up four yellow cards each, which has led to a suspension.
The Gujarat-born defender entered the referee's book in the ties against Mohun Bagan (H), Minerva Punjab (A), Bengaluru (H) and Mumbai (A) while former Mohammedan Sporting Club player Jaryan was booked in the matches versus Mohun Bagan (H), Bengaluru (A), Chennai City (H) and Mohun Bagan (A).
Jaryan has featured in all 17 fixtures for Aizawl - having started in all and has never been substituted out whereas Mehta has had 16 appearances with a goal to his name, as well.
As far as the injuries are concerned, Aizawl is fortunate to have no player on the injury list as the entire squad reached Shillong on Thursday.
It is believed that the visitors will have a huge support even in Meghalaya as several supporters from Mizoram will travel to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong. Nearly 500-1000 supporters are likely to make the trip via bus or cars to the Meghalaya capital. Also, apart from the travelling fans, the first-placed side will receive the support of Mizos residing in Shillong.
On the other hand, Mohun Bagan have a few injury concerns for the tie against V Soundararajan's army, in the ranks of Subashish Bose and Pronay Halder. 24-year-old Halder has been ruled out for the season but Subashish could feature in the Federation Cup beginning next month.
U-22 player Raynier Fernandes returned to training and could give fellow youngster Azharuddin Mallick a fight for a place in the starting XI. Mallick’s performance in the last tie against Khalid Jamil’s Aizawl side was below-par which means Raynier could stand a chance to fulfil the U-22 quota for the Mariners on Sunday.
The Kolkata heavyweights need to ensure full points from the clash at Chennai and also hope Aizawl fall prey to Lajong in order to lay their hands on the trophy.
It is all building up beautifully in Kolkata and Shillong, as the fans gear up for an exciting finale for the I-League.