The new format of the Federation Cup -- one of India's key club football competitions -- saw a blockbuster affair so far in the 2016 edition. Defending champions Bengaluru FC, also the winners of the I-League this season, were knocked out of the competition over two legs by newcomers Aizawl FC, leaving everyone awestruck.
Apart from Aizawl FC, Shillong Lajong FC, Sporting Clube de Goa and former I-League winners Mohun Bagan make the four team who will battle it out once more over two legs in the Federation Cup 2016 semifinals.
The tournament featured the eight top teams, according to the standings of the I-League table this season, and for a moment, it looked like a fiery contest would take shape among the top three sides of the domestic league this time -- Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. However, it all turned out differently.
It was an incredible moment as Aizawl FC, who were relegated from the I-League this season, dumped Bengaluru out of the competition and they now have a huge opportunity to even lift the title in their debut Federation Cup campaign.
"[Premier League champions] Leicester City motivated us to upset the 'Champions of India.' The Leicester story inspired us to go out and the field and play as it is our last day on Earth," said Joel Sunday, one of the key Aizawl FC attacking players, in an AIFF press release. "Each and every player in the Aizawl FC squad took motivation from players in the Leicester City squad as the Leicester players became something from nothing and we wanted to show the World that we are something.
"We are united in our cause -- we are confident of our abilities and with two of the best teams in India getting knocked out (Bengaluru FC and Kingfisher East Bengal), we might clinch the Federation Cup for ourselves this year. It will be a fairytale ending if we win it," added Sunday.
While Aizawl FC will take on Sporting Clube de Goa over two legs in their semifinal, Mohun Bagan will take on Shillong Lajong in their semifinal over the two legs. The matches will be played on a home and away basis.
Federation Cup 2016 semifinals schedule:
|Date||Home Team||Away Team||Time||Venue|
|May 8||Mohun Bagan||v||Shillong Lajong||TBD||Barasat Stadium, West Bengal|
|May 10||Aizawl FC||v||Sporting Clube de Goa||TBD||Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Mizoram|
|May 14||Shillong Lajong||v||Mohun Bagan||TBD||JLN Stadium, Shillong|
|May 15||Sporting Clube de Goa||v||Aizawl FC||TBD||Tilak Maidan, Goa|