Gift Raikhan believes Neroca has proven itself on the big stage

Neroca FC coach Gift Raikhan believes his side proven itself in its debut I-League season and has shown that it deserves to be in the top tier of Indian football.

“As a new team in the league, we took it as a challenge to put up our best front. I think we have justified our promotion to the I-League. We have proven we belong here,” said Gift Raikhan, on his side's impressive I-League debut.   -  AIFF Media

At the start of the I-League season, not many would have tipped new-comer Neroca FC to be a title-contender but the side has defied all odds to stage many an impressive win. It has been one of those seasons in the I-League where fancied teams are playing catch up to unexpected pacesetters. The team, according to coach Gift Raikhan, has that it deserves to be in the top tier of Indian football.

“As a new team in the league, we took it as a challenge to put up our best front. I think we have justified our promotion to the I-League. We have proven we belong here,” said Gift in single breath.

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Despite facing its own set of challenges, the boys rose to the occasion and have impressed. “What we did in the second division is in the past. The I-League is a different ball game. You have to live in the present and take each day as it comes.”

“Yes it is the top tier but you can’t let yourselves be bogged down by the occasion. Then you are doomed from the start,” he cautioned.

With nine wins and four draws from its 17 matches so far, Neroca has had a fairly consistent run this season. “Apart from a few signings, most of the squad stayed the same. So, the understanding, continuity and the consistency has paid off for us,” he said.

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The locals have also thrown their weight behind the team with crowds thronging to the stadium, setting attendance records in the process. “It is a humbling experience. All the love and affection we get is beyond words. They also expect a lot from us and there is certainly no limit to human expectations.”

“We fully understand the sentiments of the people but there are certain limitations to every football team, we are just trying our best to match up with them,” he added.

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