I-League: Northeast's NEROCA and Aizawl clash in search of first win

Aizawl FC travels to NEROCA FC on the back of a spirited display in its opening goalless draw against Mohun Bagan in the I-League.

Stanley Rozario and Gift Raikhan pose for the cameras during the pre-match press conference.   -  AIFF MEDIA

Northeast rivals NEROCA FC and Aizawl FC will be facing off at the Khuman Lampak Stadium on Friday in the I-League.

Aizawl FC faced Mohun Bagan at home in the opening day of the season and earned a point through a spirited display in the goalless draw.

NEROCA FC, on the other hand, went down 1-2 away to Gokulam Kerala last weekend.

Aizawl was in action in the Mizoram Premier League on 3 December, and as a result, will have a few tired legs in its squad.

Reflecting on the side's performance on the opening fixture, Aizawl's head coach Stanley Rozario said, “I am pleased with the performance of my players against Mohun Bagan and I wanted to get something out of the match, and we earned one important point.”

Weighing in on the tight schedule and the opponent, he added, “It’s a very tight schedule and I don’t want my players to get any injuries. NEROCA are a good team and have a full squad with foreigners and will come strongly against us. It’s also their first home match and they will get the home support as well. My players are confident, motivated and ready to take on them. I want my players to continue with the same team spirit and approach the match with a positive mindset.”

Gift Raikhan, Neroca's head coach, voiced his verdict on the opening day defeat against Gokulam. Looking back on the challenges his squad faced, he said, “It was a very difficult journey for us. It was the first match of the season. We travelled 3500 kilometres away from home. We trained on 29 and played the next day. But that’s the beauty of football and you have to endure those challenges in a long league.”

Even in defeat, he remained positive and asserted, “We fought and we showed that we were strong mentally, physically and technically. We feel sad about the result but we are back at home. The match is very important. We need three points against Aizawl but first of all, we need to relax, recover and then plan. Everything will be alright.”

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