Some people were a bit confused with regards to the final points table of the First Division football tournament and the positioning of Nongrim Hills and Rising FC. Here we explain why Nongrim made it to second place ahead of Rising…

In answer to the question in the headline, it all depends.

All the Shillong Sports Association tournaments go by head-to-head first when teams are tied on points. In the case of Nongrim Hills and Rising FC, Nongrim had beaten Rising 3-1 on 30th July. Teams in the First Division play against each other only once.

The final points table of the First Division 2018

That win was enough to put Nongrim through when the two sides ended up on 19 points after their final round of matches last week.

Prior to the final round Rising had a poorer goal difference than Nongrim, but that changed after they hammered Wahingdoh 6-0 in their last outing.

It seems that some Rising officials and fans were under the impression that goal difference would actually come into play first before head-to-head.

Whether the SSA clearly informed all the teams prior to the start of the season about the classification procedure or not TSR doesn’t know, but perhaps the organising body took it for granted that all teams would know the procedure as head-to-head has been the first separator for years now.

Only if head-to-head can’t separate teams does goal difference apply. So, for example, if Rising and Nongrim had drawn their match back in July, Rising would have taken second place with a superior goal difference.

And it isn’t just the SSA¬†who follow this format (or something similar). The I-League does it. La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy and the group stage of the UEFA Champions League all first use head-to-head to separate tied teams too.

Why go for head-to-head rather than goal difference first? After all the latter is used in World Cup group matches, the English Premier League, Bundesliga in Germany and Ligue 1 in France.

Ummm… TSR doesn’t know the answer to that.

But, anyway, it’s not like goal difference has been around forever. Prior to goal difference there was goal average, which divided the number of goals scored by the number conceded. But that was a little awkward if a team didn’t concede any goals because (as everyone will remember from their school maths classes) you can’t divide a number by zero.

Going with goal difference was also thought to encourage more attacking football.

It also makes it easier to look at a points table and figure out who should be in front of whom rather than having to also remember who beat whom (which using head-to-head makes you do).

Head-to-head also gets a little tricky to work out when more than two teams are tied on points and this has given TSR a headache on more than one occasion.

(TSR file photo)

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