Aizawl FC became the champion club of India, lifting the I-League title with convincing performances through the season. North-East, which has produced a huge number of international players recently, had not been able to translate this advantage when it came to winning tournaments at the club level.
After making a forgettable appearance in its first season in the I-League (where it finished eighth and was to be relegated), Aizawl FC had a new lease of life when the All India Football Federation decided to reinstate it. The Federation was forced to do so after two clubs from Goa pulled out.
Invigorated by the new development, the pride of Aizawl (the Mizoram capital) sought to recast the side by roping in Khalid Jamil as the head coach. The 40-year-old, who moved in from Mumbai FC, set about in quest of the right recipe for success. Jamil created an energetic squad, bringing in experienced players from his former club, while providing a platform to a group of young, talented youngsters. The selection of foreigners also fitted the bill as Aizawl set the pace from the initial rounds.
The team scripted one of the most enchanting stories of football triumph as it got the better of traditional giants like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal and a corporate-backed club like Bengaluru FC. A first trophy triumph for a team from the region sparked off major celebrations in the highlands, giving the waning charm of I-League a big boost.
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