By Rajarshi Chakrabarty
The wait, anticipation and excitement of the penultimate matchday of Hero I-League finally drawn to a conclusion as the complex calculations of other three teams winning the League was nullified by an outright win for Minerva FC.
A 16th-minute strike by William Opoku was enough to see the Punjab side winning the Hero I league with 35 points.
Minerva FC started the League brilliantly but lost momentum in the latter part as they started to the surrender advantage losing to East Bengal and Chennai City FC.
But Minerva managed to get their acts right in their final game as they managed to beat Churchill Brothers to secure the Hero I League title with a fairly dominant display finishing three points clear of NEROCA FC.
In the other game, East Bengal against NEROCA FC ended in a 1-1 draw as Odilli Felix Chidi’s 42nd-minute goal was canceled out by Dudu Omagbemi’s 73 rd minute header as East Bengal failed to break the deadlock ensuring a second-place finish for NEROCA with 32 points.
Having a slender lead by one goal, NEROCA FC closed the game early in the second half to settle for a draw due to the fact that Minerva was 1-0 ahead and the Manipur side did not want to risk their second place standing by going for an open attacking game with the risk of conceding.
As Mohun Bagan failed to beat Gokulam Kerala FC despite having a lead from Dipanda Dicka’s headed goal on the 25th-minute which was canceled out by Henry’s goal just on the stroke of halftime from a defensive error.
Mohun Bagan finished the league with 31 points, level on points as East Bengal but sneaked past their Kolkata rival East Bengal on the league table due to a better Head to Head record to finish third, as East Bengal finished fourth.
Now the focus shifts on the Super Cup’s inaugural edition where 16 teams from Indian Super League and I-League will battle it out in the final round which is expected to start on 31st March 2018 at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.