Aizawl FC ready for Neroca FC in Northeastern derby at I-League
Neroca FC are placed third in the I-League with 18 points from nine games while defending champions Aizawl FC are at the fifth spot with 14 points from eight gamesfootball Updated: Jan 19, 2018 17:39 IST
After playing a tiring goalless draw in their last match against East Bengal, reigning champions Aizawl FC will hope to get back to their winning ways when they host Neroca FC in an I-League match in Aizawl on Saturday.
Neroca have done well so far in their maiden season as they have lost only one match out of nine and going into the derby, they will be brimming with confidence.
The Imphal-based side have come into the match after an outright win against Indian Arrows but their head coach Gift Raikhan is well aware of the threats that Aizawl FC could posed to his team.
“First of all, it’s not a derby for me but more of a homecoming for me as I have nurtured many Mizo boys earlier in my career and did my B-License in Aizawl,” Raikhan said at the pre-match press conference.
“Every match is difficult and I cannot predict the result. All I can guarantee is we will give our absolute best. Aizawl FC is a very good team and it will be a tough match,” he said.
“It’s been a hectic schedule for us and we cannot properly train in the away matches due to lack of facilities. Some fans are coming from Imphal and I hope it will be an exciting match,” added Raikhan, the youngest coach in the I- League.
Neroca midfielder David Biakzara was excited to face a Mizo club in the country’s top-tier league.
The Mizo midfielder said, “Aizawl will be tough opponents and it won’t be an easy match. Being a Mizo boy I am very excited to face Aizawl FC and my friends and family will be here to support me.”
Aizawl FC can’t afford to lose any more points at home as away fixtures are coming thick and fast. The Mizoram side won’t be having the services of Afghan defender Masih Saighani but head coach Paulo Menezes said that won’t deviate him from eyeing all three points tomorrow.
“We always fight for three points in every match and we will do the same tomorrow. We respect the opponents and we will need to play tough. The most important thing is to win three points,” Menezes said.
Nigerian defender Kareem Omolaja Nurain has started every I-League match this season for the Reds and his role will be crucial in their quest to halt Neroca’s unbeaten run.
“I am very happy to play for Aizawl FC. We are happy to see the fans supporting us and it is easier to perform well with the backing of the fans. Football is a team sport and the fans make it easier to play,” Kareem said.