Red Army turns Aizawl FC’s triumph into a special occasion

“This is the passion and response from the fans that had inspired us to make the I-League title a reality,” said head coach Khalid Jamil

Khalid Jamil runs onto the pitch to celebrate Aizawl FC’s title win.   -  AIFF Media

A sea of Aizawl FC supporters, the count may have been somewhere around three thousand, climbed the fences to flood pitch of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here in a spate of red flags and banners minutes after the referee had blew the long whistle signalling the little known club emergence as the champion club of India. As the organiser of the I-League – All India Football Federation – struggled to put together the prize distribution ceremony in the chaos surrounding the podium, the sea of humanity made it slowly towards Khalid Jamil, the coach who had realised their dream of winning the most coveted title in India’s club football.

“This is the passion and response from the fans that had inspired us to make the I-League title a reality,” Jamil said after he was extricated from the clutches of the fans. “The hallmark of our victory is the hard-work of the players and nothing else,” the coach gave all the credit of the ‘historic’ triumph to his team and the fans, who call themselves the “Red Army”.

Aizawl FC trailed the first half by a goal which Jamil said happened because his opponents were playing a free game having nothing to lose while his players were under the pressure of performing.

“At the interval, I told my players that this is the last 45 minutes which would decide the championship. I wanted them to unshackle their minds from the pressure and thankfully it happened after the break,” Jamil said when asked about his team’s comeback in after the break.

Was this the best match of his career? “I cannot deny that but my team played a few good matches through the tournament to reach this place. This match gave us the title but our match against Mohun Bagan in the previous round was also very important as it made us think for the first time that we can win the title,” Jamil said before heading off with his team to long night of celebrations.

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