Aizawl FC: Underdogs on their maiden I-League adventure

In a clash of champions, newly-promoted Aizawl FC will begin their debut adventure in the Hero I-League against defending champions Mohun Bagan, at the Salt Lake stadium, in Kolkata on Saturday evening.

Aizwal FC are the Mizoram Premier League 4 champions.

In a clash of champions, newly-promoted Aizawl FC will begin their debut adventure in the Hero I-League against defending champions Mohun Bagan, at the Salt Lake stadium, in Kolkata on Saturday evening.

Having won the 2015 I-League Second Division, all eyes will be on the ‘Red and Whites’ coached by Spaniard Manuel Retamero. He took over the team in August, replacing Hmingthana Zadeng, and led them team to victory in the regional Mizoram Premier League, which was held between September and December.

It will remain to be seen whether the coach can inculcate the Spanish style of play in to the squad while ensuring results go their way.

Replacing one of the most successful clubs in recent history — Dempo FC, the Mizoram outfit might be under big pressure to put on a good show and be a success story for the league that is on shaky ground.

The league has been hampered by withdrawals. Three teams — Pune FC, Bharat FC and Royal Wahingdoh — pulled out this season with DSK Shivajians being brought in as the only replacement.

The biggest name on the team sheet will undoubtedly be Liberian striker Alfred Jayran. The 27-year-old striker will be Aizawl’s gateway to unlocking opposition defences and will shoulder the responsibility for getting the goals.

The former Mohammedan Sporting Club striker has been the fulcrum of the team’s forward line for the past two seasons, helping the team to the second division crown last year. He scored a brace in the 3-0 win over Chanmari FC in the final of the Mizoram Premier League.

With respect to the team’s target, Aizawl’s immediate objective is to stay afloat in the league. Their Albatross around the neck will be the squad, which is inexperienced at this level.

However, the squad has got the taste of success and coach Retamero should translate this confidence coupled with the hunger of the players into tangible results.

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