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Sreenidi Deccan FC stay in hunt with big win vs Rajasthan

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Hyderabad, March 31: Sreenidi Deccan FC extended the title race in the I-League 2023-24 by another week with an emphatic 6-1 drubbing of Rajasthan United at the Deccan Arena here on Sunday.
Sreenidi Deccan now have 43 points from 21 matches. They are placed second in the points table, six points behind leaders Mohammedan Sporting, who have 49 points from 22 matches.
With three matches in hand in the 24-round league, the Hyderabad side can add a maximum of nine more points to their tally and hope for Mohammedan Sporting to falter in the final two matches.
However, Mohammedan Sporting can enjoy the luxury of having only three points from their next two matches and still pocket the title as they hold a better head-to-head record against Sreenidi Deccan.
On the day, William De Oliviera (8’, 42’), Lalromawia (15’, 90+2’), Rilwan Hassan (61’) and Lalnuntluanga Bawitlung (86’) found the net for Sreenidi Deccan while Pangambam Naoba Meitei (74’) scored the consolation goal for Rajasthan United.
Sreenidi Deccan had no margin for error and a win was the only way they could have stayed in the title race. They started accordingly, constantly pressing and haranguing the Rajasthan midfield into ceding possession.
The high press yielded a reward in the 8th minute, when, under pressure, C Lalchungnunga played a ball deep into his own box. The ball fell to De Oliviera and with his first touch, the Brazilian chipped it over a helpless Sachin Jha to give the home side the lead.
They doubled that lead in the 15th minute via Lalromawia. The winger was played through by a superb through ball from Brandon Vanlalremdika, in midfield and made no mistake even from a tight angle to score.
Rilwan Hassan almost extended that with a phenomenal individual run that bamboozled four Rajasthan defenders, before Jha pulled off a sharp save.
Sreenidi did get their third though, De Oliviera doubling his individual tally of goals in the 42nd minute to take them into the break with a comfortable lead.
Hassan got his goal in the 61st minute and it was in spectacular fashion too; he scored with a diving header off a corner.
Rajasthan pulled one back in the 74th minute via Naoba Meitei, the forward picking up a long ball and finishing deftly in a sweeping move.
Sreenidi scored a fifth in the 86th minute, a defensive mistake seeing Bawitlung score directly from a corner. Lalrowmawia got his brace in injury time to wrap up an emphatic victory for the hosts. The I-League is the professional league for Indian men’s association football clubs, established in 2007. It is the top-tier football league in India, with 21 clubs having competed in the tournament. The 2023–24 season marks the 17th season of the I-League, now functioning as the second tier of the Indian football league system. The league has a rich history, with clubs like Gokulam Kerala, Bengaluru FC, and Aizawl having clinched titles in past seasons. The format of the I-League for the 2023-24 season involves 13 participating clubs competing in a home-and-away double round-robin basis, totaling 156 matches for the season. Each club will play 24 matches, with the club finishing at the top of the table being declared the I-League 2023-24 champions. The champions will be eligible for promotion to the Indian Super League 2024-25, provided they fulfill the Club Licensing criteria. (PTI)

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