I-League: Menezes hopes to spoil Khalid’s homecoming

Defending champion Aizawl FC will have its task cut out as the side takes on a strong East Bengal in the I-League on Tuesday.

Khalid Jamil keeps an eye on the East Bengal players as they train in Aizawl on Monday.   -  AIFF

Defending champion Aizawl FC will have its task cut out as the side takes on a strong East Bengal in the I-League on Tuesday.

It will be homecoming for East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil, Lalramchullova, Brandon Vanlalremdika, Laldanmawia and Syrian midfield star Mahmoud Al-Amna who were an integral part of Aizawl FC’s title-winning campaign last year.

The I-League title has always eluded the visitor and if it is to remain in the hunt it will need nothing but three points.

The Red and Gold trail league leader Minerva Punjab by four points after nine games and if Khalid and his boys want to stay close to the title it will have to play their hearts out in front of Aizawl’s Red Army who will sing till the final whistle stops the game.

On being asked if Aizawl is a weaker team after he left for greener pastures, Khalid replied, “No, they are a strong team. All the players are really good and in my opinion, they are a better team than last season. We must work really hard and give our absolute best for tomorrow’s match.

“Aizawl is a really nice place, nice weather. I expect a warm reception from the fans,” he added.

East Bengal has scored 17 goals in nine matches and it is the best when it comes to scoring goals. Trinidadian forward Willis Plaza has scored only two goals but is confident that he will add more to the team goal tally.

He stated, “I am 100 fit for tomorrow’s match and I am confident in my game.”

On being asked if East Bengal will have an advantage tomorrow, Paulo Menezes replied, “No, I don’t think they will have an advantage over us. The last time we played we didn’t have a proper pre-season and that results in our game but this time it will be different. We will be playing for the three points like last match and no defensive game plan will be utilised.”