I-League Qualifiers: First outstation team lands in Kolkata

Ahmedabad based ARA FC will taking on Mohammedan SC, FC Bengaluru United, Bhawanipore FC and Garhwal FC.

ARA FC has arrived in the city 17 days before of the start of the qualifiers.   -  AIFF Media

ARA FC of Ahmedabad became the first outstation team to reach Kolkata for the Hero I-League Qualifiers which kick-off on October 8 simultaneously in Kolkata and Kalyani.

Having arrived in two separate batches, ARA will be looking to acclimatise to the conditions as fast as possible.

“It’s a good feeling to be back. I’m absolutely thrilled to be in Kolkata, a place where football enjoys a lot of popularity,” said ARA FC's head coach Vivek Nagul upon arrival.

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He acknowledge the challenge for all involved in making sure the qualifiers go ahead in the aftermath of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.

“The good thing is that we get to re-start footballing action in the country once again,” he said.

Having arrived at the venue 17 days before the start of the qualifiers, ARA FC will be looking to prepare for its matches against Mohammedan SC, FC Bengaluru United, Bhawanipore FC and Garhwal FC.

“We have not been able to train in Ahmedabad because of the pandemic situation which is why we decided that it would be better to travel to Kolkata well ahead of schedule. Not only will we get a few weeks to prepare, but we would also have enough time to acclimatise to the conditions here,” Nagaul added.

While the ARA FC players were not able to hit the training pitch during the COVID-19 pandemic, the coaches and the physios have been keeping busy by monitoring their fitness levels on a regular basis.

While the team has retained most of its core squad for the qualifiers, it has made a couple of foreign additions to its attack and defence.

“We have strengthened our defence with the signing of Camara. We also signed Eze Stanley up front and made several other additions in other areas as well,” informed Nagul.

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The side had had a good run in last season’s Second Division League campaign, amassing four wins and two draws from its seven matches.

“It is a good opportunity for the players to create history. If we make it to the Hero I-League it will be huge. In that case, we will be the first club from Gujarat to play in the league and that would be special,” Nagul said.

“What makes it even better is that this is an academy that has turned into a club. And in Gujarat where football is not as popular as some of the other states. We can inspire many youngsters to turn to football and make a valuable contribution to the sport from this part of the country,” he said.

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