I-League 2016/17: Round 2 Fixtures & Preview

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​The start of the 2016/17 season of the I-League has seen the favourites Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan start their campaign on a winning note while teams like Churchill and DSK Shivajians have struggled to come to terms with the level of quality in the league.

With the second round starting this weekend, we take a look at the fixture list and preview the matches.

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5. Aizawl FC vs Minerva Punjab FC

The first match of the second round of fixtures for I-League 2016/17 see's Aizawl FC take on Minerva Punjab FC at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl.  

The hosts come into this game on the back of an impressive performance against Indian footballing giants East Bengal, where they almost secured a win only to concede a goal in the 90th minute of the game. Coach Khalid Jamil will be hoping that his team continue to build on this performance and become more clinical in front of goal.

Their opponents, Minerva Punjab FC played out a goalless draw in their last game and ideally should have collected all three points against Chennai. Their lack of end product in front of goal was an issue and it is no secret that their strikers Joel Sunday and Victor Amobi should do better. 

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4. Mohun Bagan vs Shillong Lajong

The second game on Friday, 13th January see's Indian footballing giants Mohun Bagan host Shillong Lajong at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata.

The 2014/15 winners started their campaign in the best possible fashion, beating Churchill Brothers 1-0. Striker Balwant Singh was the star for Bagan, scoring the winner and he will again be key on Friday, as they look to maintain pace with defending champions Bengaluru FC.

Shillong Lajong on the other hand started their campaign on a disappointing note, getting thrashed by Bengaluru FC 3-0. Lajong who are known to give youngsters a chance, will be hoping that they come good while new signings Romanian defender Dan Gelu Ignat, Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki and Cameroonian striker Aser Pierrick Dipanda will be expected to fire come Friday.

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3. Bengaluru FC vs Chennai City

​The most anticipated game of round two, see's rivals Bengaluru and Chennai face each other in the South Indian derby at the Sree Kanteerva Stadium on 14th January.

Defending champions Bengaluru have continued from where they left off last season, thrashing Shillong Lajong 3-0 in the opener. Winger Udanta Singh was the star of the show for them, while under Spaniard Albert Roca, they have arguably a much more dangerous squad this season than last year.

Chennai City started their debut campaign in the I-League on a reasonable note, registering a goalless draw against Minerva Punjab. Coach Robin Charles Raja who hasn't had much time to work with his squad, will need to ensure that they do not waste any chances in front of goal, in what will be a tough encounter.

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2. DSK Shivajians vs East Bengal

​Pune based DSK Shivajians did not have the best of starts in I-League 2016/17, losing 1-0 to rivals Mumbai FC in their opener.

Dave Rogers' side showed glimpses of what they were capable of, but were unable to find a way through Mumbai's defense. Their foreign players- Juan Quero, North Korean international Kim Song Yong, Irish Midfielder Shane McFaul and Serbian centre back Sasha Kolunija, will need to step up and take control if they are to make a dash for the title this season.

Kolkata giants East Bengal struggled in their opening game against Aizawl, requiring a last gasp equaliser from Ivan Bukenya to draw the game. In all fairness, they did not deserve any points from the game and were perhaps lucky to come away with a point.

The Red and Yellow have not won the I-League in their 96-year history and based on their performances last week, it seems that fans will need to wait a little longer for their maiden title.

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1. Churchill Brothers vs Mumbai

​The last game of round two, see's Churchill Brothers face Mumbai in the Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco da Gama on 15th January. 

Arguably, the least prepared team in the I-League, Churchill went into their first game without their foreign signings and head coach. This showed in the result as they lost to Mohun Bagan 1-0, with the scoreline actually flattering them.

While head coach Joseph Afusi is expected to join their team ahead of the second game, there is still no news on whether their foreign recruits will feature on Sunday.

Mumbai come into this tie on the back of a morale boosting 1-0 win over local rivals DSK Shivajians in their last game. Thoi Singh was the star of the show for Mumbai with his winner ensuring that they went home with all three points.

Mumbai come into this game as the favourites considering the chaos sorrounding Churchill at the moment.