I-League 2018-19: Top 5 moments from the first half of the season
The 2018-19 Hero I-League kicked off on 26th October at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with Chennai City FC picking up a comprehensive 4-1 win over Indian Arrows. Despite being overshadowed by the ISL, the I-League has exceeded the viewers' expectations and given them some enthralling encounters.
A lot of ugly incidents have panned out too, with the recent news that Star Sports would not broadcast 30 of the next 60 I-League matches angering the fans. The Mohun Bagan officials complained to the AIFF twice regarding the sub-standard refereeing of the league.
The Real Kashmir FC management took to Twitter to accuse Gokulam FC of abuse in the run-up to their away match against them.
However, a lot of positives developments have also taken place in these two months. From the rise of an Indian striker to the first I-League match in Kashmir, here are the top 5 moments from the first half of the season.
#5 The rise of Jobby Justin - a new striker in the making
Irrespective of the side you are representing, it is always an honour to don the jersey of 'Red and Gold' or 'Green and Maroon' in the Kolkata Derby. And, if you are playing as a striker, the responsibilities increase exponentially. Hence, the managers rarely deploy Indian strikers upfront.
But, Alejandro Menendez entrusted Jobby Justin and, the Keralite reposed his faith. He spotted Laldanmawia Ralte's run and gave a perfect through ball towards him which he later equalized. Justin, then, gave East Bengal the lead with an acrobatic overhead kick to send one half of the stadium in euphoria and the other half in despair.
Jobby Justin's performance against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan isn't the only one that should be commended. As of this writing, he is the leading Indian goalscorer with 5 goals from 8 matches, only behind Churchill Brothers' Willis Plaza in the overall leading goalscorers' list. In the ISL, Sunil Chhetri has scored as many goals but played three matches more.
Indian strikers have never had their fair share of luck in the I-League. Last season, Abhijit Sarkar and Subhash Singh were the joint top scorers with 4 goals in the entire tournament. The current record for the most number of goals by an Indian is held by Sunil Chhetri when he sent the ball home fourteen times in the 2013-14 season in 24 matches.
With 12 matches in his hand, Jobby Justin might overtake the national team striker. Moreover, he can also become his heir in the Indian football team.