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  Opinion   Edit  02 May 2017  Aizawl’s fairytale triumph

Aizawl’s fairytale triumph

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : May 2, 2017, 12:36 am IST
Updated : May 2, 2017, 12:36 am IST

Their coach Khalid Jamil was sacked from his last job because he was not seen to be ambitious enough.

Players of Aizawl Football Club celebrates and poses with the trophy after they won the Hero I-League against Shillong Lajong FC in Shillong. (Photo: PTI)
 Players of Aizawl Football Club celebrates and poses with the trophy after they won the Hero I-League against Shillong Lajong FC in Shillong. (Photo: PTI)

The Aizawl football club scripted a remarkable fairytale win in the I-League, one of the country’s premier soccer competitions. Their win is reminiscent of the Leicester City’s victory in the English premier league last year, a perfect Cinderella story of transformation from no-hopers to champions. A team comprising players mostly from Mizoram plus an interesting, inexpensive foreign recruit in Mahmoud Al Amnah, an indefatigable midfielder from war-ravaged Aleppo in Syria who did the star turn in a long season of sweat and toil, Aizawl FC bettered all comers in the league. The dramatic scenes on the final day when the league leaders needed just a draw to pip the favourite from the eastern parts, Mohun Bagan, brought out the story in all the suspenseful splendour of sport. The joy of the underdogs knew no bounds as the Aizawl players hugged each other on the field savouring the moment of a triumph that told a tale far beyond sport.

Relegated from the top division after last season and accommodated only because two Goan teams pulled out due to differences with the Indian football federation, Aizawl trumped the league that didn’t seem to want them. With a minuscule season budget that would barely suffice to buy one of Mohun Bagan’s imported stars, the Mizoram lads showed that there is no substitute for natural talent, which when combined with team effort can lead to sporting triumphs. Their coach Khalid Jamil was sacked from his last job because he was not seen to be ambitious enough. The irony was complete as he led his band from the Northeast to a first ever triumph for a team from a region known for sporting spontaneity.

This has been a good year for Indian soccer, which has gone up the FIFA ladder of merit to 101 from a historic low of 173 and Aizawl win shows how talent hunt can benefit if AIFF looks beyond the traditional power centres of Indian soccer.

Tags: i-league, aizawl fc, aizawl football club