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I-League: Indian Arrows face NEROCA FC challenge

NEROCA FC will look to continue their unbeaten run as they take on Indian Arrows in the I-League in Imphal on Friday.

football Updated: Jan 05, 2018 09:11 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Imphal
I-League,Indian Arrows,NEROCA FC
Indian Arrows face NEROCA FC in a crucial I-League encounter in Imphal on Friday.(AIFF)

Debutants NEROCA FC will be aiming to keep up their unbeaten run to six successive matches when they host a young Indian Arrows in their third home game I-League in Imphal on Friday.

With 11 points from six games, the Manipur-based side are placed third and they have a great opportunity to leapfrog Minerva Punjab FC and trail leaders Kingfisher East Bengal (17 points) by three points, that too with a game in hand.

The defeat to Minerva Punjab FC in their first game now seems a distant past as they are unbeaten in five games.

Coached by Gift Raikhan, the side also has managed to hold Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and Kingfisher East Bengal to draws.

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The recent signing of Serbian forward Nedo Turkovic to partner Felix Chidi has provided the unit with a much-needed tooth in attack and with the presence of experienced Indians in Gouramangi Singh and Singam Subash Singh, the men in orange look a force to reckon with.

Raikhan, who has surprised many with his astute tactics did not reveal too much on the eve of the match about his thoughts.

“We have a plan for tomorrow. We have a different strategy. As a coach, I don’t talk about my strategy before the game. We planned together and all my players have understood my plan. Now, we have to prove it and the plan should be successful on the field,” he said.

Skipper Lalit Thapa added:”It is not an easy game for us, they are a young team. It will be hard for us, we cannot give space to them. If we give space, they will hit us hard.”

As for the Indian Arrows, they travel to the north- eastern state after a gritty performance at home against East Bengal couple of days back.

They play their seventh match in a month’s time and will be looking to reverse their fortunes, which see them placed seventh on the table with as many points.

“I am very excited to be in Manipur for the first time. When I came to coach the Indian U-17 side first, I was touched by a lot of the players from Manipur. There is a big passion in this region for football.

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“I now know a little bit more about football in India. There are players from Manipur in all I-League teams. It is a region of football talent. I am glad to coach so many players of Manipur,” said head coach Luis Norton de Matos at the pre- match press conference.

He added:”The Arrows boys are also present in heart of NEROCA FC supporters I am sure. We have never been the favourites in any game. In the I-League, all teams depend on foreigners. We are a bit different. After each game, we gain experience.”

Meanwhile, Arrows captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam will return to the line-up after serving out a one-game suspension.

Apart from that:”There will be 5-6 (Manipur-born) on the field for (Indian Arrows) sure,” said Matos.

First Published: Jan 04, 2018 20:55 IST