Chennai City officially crowned I-League champion

Chennai City FC owner Rohit Ramesh thanked the AIFF, head coach Akbar Nawas, the players and supporting staff for its maiden I-League triumph.

Chennai City FC players celebrate after officially being crowned the Hero I-League champions.   -  R.Ragu

Chennai City FC was officially crowned the I-League champion in front of representatives of other clubs and bigwigs of All India Football Federation (AIFF) at a function in Chennai on Wednesday.

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar praised Rohit Ramesh, the owner of Chennai City, for the brand of football his team had dished out in the tournament.

"Chennai City has by far been the best team this year. It's brand of football of keeping the ball to the ground, the passing game. That’s what we in the national team have been trying to put in place," he said.

Dhar also spoke highly about the teams' promotion of local players from their respective regions as the way forward.

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"[Many] local players have come for Minerva Punjab FC while Real Kashmir has been a revelation. Chennai City has been doing it for the last few years. It helps grow the fan base, and the best way to move forward," he said.

Rohit thanked AIFF, the club’s head coach [Akbar Nawas], the players, supporting staff for bagging its maiden I-League triumph: "It has been a tough four years altogether. Many didn’t believe in our vision, but we stuck to our guts. It’s been a good season and we hope to continue the dream." he said.

Kushal Das, secretary of AIFF, said Chennai City won primarily due to its "tremendous planning, [excellent] strategising in only its third year (in the I-League)."

Special awards (I-League):

Fair play award: Shillong Lajong

Top goal scorer: Pedro Manzi and Willis Plaza (21 goals each)

Best goalkeeper: Billal Khan (Real Kashmir)

Best defender: Roberto Eslava (Chennai City)

Best midfielder: Nestor Gordillo (Chennai City)

Best forward: Pedro Manzi (Chennai City)

Best home match organiser: East Bengal

Emerging player: Gaurav Bora (Chennai City)

Best coach: Akbar Nawas (Chennai City)

Hero of the League: Pedro Manzi.