ISL 2023-24: Clubs brace up for fight to finish as most exciting season ever reaches final week

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Mumbai City FC are within touching distance of the League Shield as Mohun Bagan Super Giant, Odisha FC and FC Goa close in on them, going into the final week of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24. Meanwhile, Chennaiyin, NorthEast United, and East Bengal locked in the final sprint for playoffs in one of the most exciting seasons in the ISL is set for a tight finish with clubs ready to go the extra mile to get their targets.

The race for the ISL Shield in the 2023-24 edition has produced peak entertainment and excitement heading into the final week of the league campaign. Mumbai City FC sits at the pole position to defend their title with 44 points from 20 games, but Mohun Bagan Super Giant (42) along with Odisha FC (39) and FC Goa (39) are not far off from displacing the Islanders from the first place in the table either, making it a four-way race for the ultimate honour of the top-tier of Indian football.

Here’s a look at what the four teams need to do to clinch the first-place finish and also get into the top two, guaranteeing them a semifinal berth.

Mumbai City FC

Pos: 1, Pl: 20, Pts: 44

Fixtures Remaining: Odisha FC (H), Mohun Bagan Super Giant (A)

With Odisha FC (42) and Mohun Bagan Super Giant (39) breathing down their neck, and Mumbai City FC facing them in their last two games, the Islanders won’t have a guaranteed top place even if they beat Odisha FC at home. However, a draw against Odisha FC will secure them a top-two finish, thus guaranteeing them a semi-final appearance.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant

Pos: 2, Pl: 20, Pts: 42

Fixtures Remaining: Bengaluru FC (A), Mumbai City FC (H)

Mohun Bagan Super Giant need to keep their chase intact, and for that, they first face the misfiring Bengaluru FC with the Blues out of the playoff hunt. The recent defeat to Chennaiyin FC didn’t bide well for the chances of the Mariners and created a scenario such that their title fate would only be sealed on the final day of the league season on April 15. Regardless of that, they can book a semi-final berth by bagging four points out of their remaining two matches.

Odisha FC

Pos: 3, Pl: 20, Pts: 39

Fixtures Remaining: Mumbai City FC (A), NorthEast United FC (A)

Odisha FC’s bid for the League Shield will fall with a loss to Mumbai City FC. However, victories in their rest two matches, along with Mohun Bagan Super Giant dropping four points from hereon can see them get in the race for the top-placed finish.

For the first two spots, the Juggernauts need to emerge victorious in their last two matches and hope that the Islanders don’t win against the Mariners, in addition to the Mohun Bagan Super Giant finishing below 46 points in the season. They also need FC Goa to drop points for the same.

FC Goa

Pos: 4, Pl: 20, Pts: 39

Fixtures Remaining: Jamshedpur FC (A), Chennaiyin FC (H)

For FC Goa to win the League Shield, they will have to win their last two games and hope that Mumbai City FC loses both its games, in addition to the Mohun Bagan Super Giant falling short of a victory against Bengaluru FC. The Gaurs have an arguably more realistic chance of finishing in the top two, as six points in their next games coupled with the Islanders beating the Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Odisha FC will see them cap off the league campaign with a definite place in the semis.

Kerala Blasters FC

Pos: 5, Pl: 21, Pts: 30

Fixtures Remaining: Hyderabad FC (A)

Kerala Blasters FC cannot win the League Shield, and neither can they end the league in the top two. However, they are comfortably into the playoffs and will have to battle it out with their prospective opponents for a place in the final four.

One spot, 3 contenders – the playoffs hunt

The sixth place for the playoffs is seeing a closely fought race and it’s a three-way battle for that coveted position in the points table. The last week or so has seen Punjab FC, Bengaluru FC, and Jamshedpur FC crash out of the contest, but the likes of East Bengal FC, Chennaiyin FC, and NorthEast United FC remain firmly in the fray with decisive victories that see them hovering around the top-six despite setbacks at different phases of the current campaign.

Chennaiyin FC are set to meet NorthEast United FC in one of their remaining two fixtures, and there’s a massive lot to play for here for all three teams, especially since East Bengal FC beat Bengaluru FC by 2-1 last night.

East Bengal FC

Pos: 6, Pl: 21, Pts: 24

Fixtures Remaining: Punjab FC (A)

East Bengal FC have to win their last match of the league season against Punjab FC and hope that Chennaiyin FC drop three points in the remaining two games of the Marina Machans. The Red & Gold Brigade also needs NorthEast United FC to lose points at least once in the rest of the two matches to seal a place in the top six.

Chennaiyin FC

Pos: 7, Pl: 20, Pts: 24

Fixtures Remaining: NorthEast United FC (H), FC Goa (A)

Chennaiyin FC will qualify for the playoffs by bagging four points from the last two games of the Marina Machans. They can even finish fifth if they win their last two matches and Kerala Blasters FC loses their last match to Hyderabad FC.

NorthEast United FC

Pos: 8, Pl: 20, Pts: 23

Fixtures Remaining: Chennaiyin FC (A), Odisha FC (H)

NorthEast United FC needs to win their last two games to make it to the playoffs. Firstly, they need to get the better of Chennaiyin FC in their coming fixture, which will have a massive impact on the chances of all three teams in contention for the sixth spot, i.e. East Bengal FC, the Marina Machans, and the Highlanders.



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