One look at the new look Aizawl FC squad tells you that this time, they are going to be different from last season in some key areas.
In I-League 2015-16, Aizawl FC were a newly promoted side, venturing into the top division for the first time with a team comprising mostly of the players who played for them in the second division the previous season, most of whom had no experience of playing at the top division. So while their capabilities were apparent from the first game, they were not able to hold up throughout the league and ended up getting relegated.
But by the end of the season, they proved their worth by making it to the Federation Cup final soon afterwards. The players, indeed, were finding their feet in the division.
Most of those players are still with Aizawl this season. And the decision to take on a veteran coach like Khalid Jamil, who brought in players like Ashutosh Mehta and Jayesh Rane over from Mumbai FC, is a potential game-changer for the Peoples' Club. This season, on top of their natural skill set of a flamboyant midfield, enviable stamina and quick passing, they get that extra dose of experience and defensive solidity that they lacked last season. This may result in them being a far more competitive side in I-League 2016-17.
Expect them to be behind some major upsets and easily overcome the relegation threat. After all, avoiding relegation is something Khalid Jamil is famous for.