On the final day of I-League 2020-21 season, three teams – Gokulam Kerala FC, TRAU FC and Churchill Brothers FC Goa – will fight it out for the title. In fact, the title could very well be decided with the last kick of the championship, with two matches featuring the competing sides kicking-off simultaneously on Saturday. (More Football News)
All three teams are locked on 26 points apiece at the top of the table, a number of permutations and combinations may come into effect to determine the champions.
How Can Gokulam Kerala Win The Title?
But, it's simple for Gokulam. The Kerala-based side need to beat TRAU in order to secure their maiden I-League title. The Vincenzo Alberto Annese-coached side have a better head-to-head record against Churchill Brothers, having lost their Phase I game 2-3 and won the Phase II encounter 3-0, and will remain at the top with a win, even if Churchill manage to take three points from their match against RoundGlass Punjab.
The Malabarians currently sit on top of the table thanks to better head-to-head records against both their title rivals – they have a 5-3 head-to-head record on aggregate against Churchill, and a 3-1 victory against TRAU in their Phase I match. If both the matches finish in draws, Gokulam Kerala would retain their spot on the top of the table and claim the I-League title. A draw would also be enough for Gokulam if Churchill suffer a loss against RoundGlass Punjab, courtesy of their better head-to-head record against the Manipuri side.
What Are TRAU's Chances?
While Gokulam Kerala are perched at the top of the table, TRAU are not too far behind. A victory against Gokulam in their final matchday will ensure that the Malabarians do not win the I-League title. Realistically, a win should be enough to secure their maiden I-League title for TRAU FC as well. In a scenario where both TRAU and Churchill win their respective matches on the final day, TRAU are more likely to emerge as the I-League champions.
The Imphal-based side have drawn their two games against Churchill Brothers (both games ended 1-1). With no clear winner on the head-to-head record between these two sides, the overall goal difference will come into play. While TRAU currently have a goal difference of +11, Churchill are on +4. This means that even if TRAU and Churchill Brothers win their respective games, the former need to ensure that their overall goal difference is higher than that of the Goan side.
Churchill Bothers's Equations
While one could say that the fate of both Gokulam Kerala and TRAU FC are in their respective hands, making the clash at the KBK like a virtual final, Churchill Brothers would be looking for a favourable result from that game.
The best-case scenario for the Red Machines is if the match between TRAU and Gokulam Kerala ends in a draw, and they themselves go on to beat RoundGlass Punjab. This would make them the clear champions of the I-League by virtue of points.
Mathematically speaking, however, Churchill Brothers could even clinch their third I-League title even if TRAU beat Gokulam Kerala. For that to happen, the Red Machines need to ensure that their overall goal difference is more than that of TRAU. In case both Churchill Brothers and TRAU finish with the same number of points, and are also level on goal difference, the team that has scored the most number of goals in the league by the time the referees blow their respective whistles, will bring home the I-League title.
And The Fight For Top-scorer's Honours
To add to the thrill and excitement, even the race for the league’s Top Scorer Award is tantalisingly poised to go right down to the wire as the three front-runners will be in action at the same time on Saturday and just one goal separating them.
Leading the charts is none other than TRAU FC’s Bidyashagar Singh Khangembam, who has 11 goals to his name so far and will be hoping to add more to his tally on the final day. Behind him are two foreign imports – Churchill Brothers’ Luka Majcen and Gokulam Kerala FC’s Dennis Antwi with 10 goals each.
Only one Indian in I-League history has finished as the league’s top goalscorer – national team captain Sunil Chhetri, who scored 14 goals for Bengaluru FC in the 2013-14 season as the Blues went on to lift the trophy. After 2013-14, Bidyashagar is the only Indian to have registered goals in double digits in a single season, with the next best being Jobby Justin’s haul of nine goals in 2018-19 for East Bengal.
One intriguing fial day, for sure!
With that, here's a look at match telecast details:
Gokulam Kerala vs TRAU (Tiddim Road Athletic Union)
Date: March 27 (Saturday), 2021
Time: 5:00 PM IST
Venue: Kishore Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata
Churchill Brothers FC Goa vs RoundGlass Punjab FC
Date: March 27 (Saturday), 2021
Time: 5:00 PM IST
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, (Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan), Kolkata
TV Channels: 1Sports
Live Streaming: 1Sports Facebook