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Aizawl FC Unraveled: Fed Cup will be a reality check for Khalid Jamil's Reds

Team Jersey  |  Aizawl FC  |  1 Year Ago

What can be said about Aizawl FC this season which has not already been said? The fairytale scriptwriters of Indian football took us on an unforgettable journey which eventually led them to the promised land of being crowned the champions of India. In doing so, Aizawl became the first side from the NorthEast to win the coveted trophy. 

 

The club has brought a sense of romanticism back to Indian football. Whats a graceful season they had!

 

A year after being reinstated by the AIFF in the I-League after they were relegated from the I-League in 2016 even though they didn’t finish last, the club from Mizoram has turned the table and how! Khalid Jamil, who was sacked by Mumbai FC (who eventually got relegated this season) at the end of last season personifies the “Never say die” spirit that has got the club to the zenith of football in India.

 

Even after being named the Champions of India, they have nothing to lose. They actually never had for a team that was resurrected only 11 years back after being defunct for close to 14 years. With a shoestring budget that is less than what Mohun Bagan pays to Sony Norde, Aizawl are still the underdogs – even after defying decades of conventional logics.





They’ll be fancied to get past their first opponents in the form of Chennai City. But what then? Let’s dig deep to look at what can spur or bother the team as they look to add another feather in the cap at Cuttack.

 

Aizawl’s Strengths

 

If any team can embody the phrase “One for all and all for one”, Its Aizawl FC. The team boasts no superstars but at the moment there are no bigger superstars in Indian football than the ones wearing the Reds of Aizawl. The team and the players wear their heart on the sleeves and that is evident in their play. 

 

However, like every other team in the world, it certainly has its own MVPs.

 

The biggest strength of the side is its spine in the middle. The duo of Alfred Jaryan and Mahmoud Al-Amna have been the driving force of their campaign. 

 

There is no better deep-lying midfielder in the country better than the 28-year-old Aizawl skipper at the moment. Deployed as a forward in his first season at Aizawl (where he struggled), the Liberian found liberation under Khalid Jamil who transformed him into being the anchor of the side at the middle of the park.

 

Meanwhile, Al-Amna’s signing has proven to be another masterstroke. The veteran from Syria has oozed class and while media members around the country have tried to ooze up the story of his nationality time and again, he has made sure that his play rather than his origin be  the main focus.

 

Whilst these two have provided the team with a great platform upon which they can build on, the other around them have to be lauded for making the best use of it. The flair of Jayesh Rane and Brandon Vanlalremdika on the left and right-hand sides of the attack respectively has been something to behold. And benefitting majorly from these workhorses is Bayi Kamo. The youngster may have only six goals to his name, but he has put himself about and is tireless work at the front has been crucial to Aizawl’s success this season.

 

Whilst their front line has come up good time again, Khalid Jamil’s title run can well be said to be based on Aizawl’s unrelenting defence. Kingston alongside Zotea Ralte has formed one of the best defensive duos in the country. With the no-nonsense Ashutosh Mehta and Lalramchullova flanking them, they certainly make for an imposing backline ahead of Albino Gomes.





Areas to Improve

 

Are there any? People can point out to the lack of big name players. But what they have instead are big game players and that was especially evident when they took the game to Mohun Bagan and eventually came out the winner in the virtual title-decider. 

 

However, people will still doubt them. And it is upto Aizawl again to shut the distractors if there are still any.

 

One of the biggest strengths for Aizawl was their home form. They remained unbeaten home throughout the campaign with teams finding it difficult to play in front of the boisterous crowd and the thin air that prevails in those high altitudes.

 

The climate at Cuttack for the Federation Cup will, however, be a different animal altogether. The temperatures are set to go above 40 degrees along with high humidity. 

 

Can the team from NorthEast animates to the conditions? They certainly have a team to match anyone in the tournament and now will look to prove themselves in a Cup competition.

 






 

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