ANI Photo | Get set for exciting footballing action as I-League returns for Round of 16

A short break and a series of unexpected results later, the I-League is now back for the business end. The league leaders are back on track and all the contenders look deadly serious playing catch-up. At the foot of the table, for some, the jig looks up, unless, of course, this week throws something unexpected along the way.
Under normal circumstances, a clash between the team at the top of the table and the one at the bottom wouldn’t raise many eyebrows or gather any interest. But this being the I-League — where the unpredictable is the only predictable — it acquires a unique significance. It all boils down to form. After a rare blip upon the restart, Mohammedan Sporting finally course-corrected in their last fixture against Rajasthan United, putting five past them to reignite their title ambitions and put all pretenders on notice. Their next opponents, while still rooted to the bottom, have also experienced the high of a win — for the first time this season no less — when they beat Delhi FC. That was followed by a humbling against Sreendi Deccan but there is no reason to believe this will be a blowout.
Shillong Lajong’s early season shine has worn off with two losses in two since the restart, and now their fixture against NEROCA FC provides the perfect opportunity for a reset. For NEROCA, the loss to Namdhari will hurt — and while they weren’t direct competitors, it does push them deeper into relegation territory — and three points will go a long way when the league hits the business end of the season.
An uncharacteristic performance against Rajasthan United has halted Real Kashmir’s title ambitions almost as quickly as they began, but this is a side known for its resilience. For Churchill, every game is now a survival battle, to find a way to last this dreadful season without dropping further into the mire. They are the eternal survivors of the I-League, the last Goan side to lift the trophy, and the oldest side in it now. In October, they were heralded as title contenders, but now they would be happier to top the relegation table at best.

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