I-League Second division 2018: Hindustan FC joins TRAU FC, Real Kashmir Football Club and Ozone FC Bengaluru in final round
What's the story?
Hindustan FC will have a lot to celebrate for as they have joined TRAU FC, Ozone FC Bengaluru and Real Kashmir Football Club in the final round of the I-League 2nd division fixtures, which promise to give rise to some riveting clashes in the final stage of the competition.
For FC Kerala, who were in contention for a spot in the final stage despite a loss against Fateh Hyderabad AFC, the draw for Hindustan FC proved to be a major heartbreak as they lost the chance to make it to the final four, and subsequently a shot at promotion.
In case you didn't know...
According to the regulations followed as part of the league, the top three teams from all the three groups automatically qualify for the final round. With respect to this scenario, Real Kashmir Football Club qualified from Group A with six wins from 10 games, while the Tiddim Road Athletic Union Football Club qualified from Group C with 7 wins from 10 games.
The heart of the matter
A dominating performance from the Kerala Blasters reserve team, winning seven of their 10 games could not help them seal a place in the final round as they were not in contention given that they were an ISL-based team. This automatically meant that Ozone FC Bengaluru, who were placed second in Group B with five wins and as many losses from 10 games, qualified despite the loss to the Blasters B team.
For the final spot, the qualification was a toss-up between the best second-best placed team between Hindustan FC and FC Kerala. Although FC Kerala lost 2-4 to Fateh Hyderabad AFC in their final encounter, they were in contention to make a move into the final round with six wins and just three losses until Hindustan FC spoilt the party for them.
In their final league game against Delhi United FC which happened a day after the scheduled day owing to thunderstorms in the capital, Hindustan FC managed to scrape home with a goalless draw that pushed them into the second spot of the Group A table with five wins and five draws, a solitary point more than Kerala FC who saw the former occupying the final spot in the finals stage.
Hence, as the second placed team that finished with the highest number of points (20), Hindustan FC managed to make it to the final four.
The final round is nicely set up with TRAU FC going into the last stage as overwhelming favourites while Real Kashmir FC, Ozone FC Bengaluru and Hindustan FC will look to make a strong case for themselves.
Although it is indeed an unfortunate turn of events for FC Kerala, they will have a lot of positives to take from the season while Hindustan FC, with the qualification sure to serve as a shot in the arm, will look to go all the way.