I-League preview: Aizwal on the cusp of history

Aizwal, who put up a spirited performance in their first ever I-League game last week against Mohun Bagan, are banking on home support in their first home match against Bengaluru FC.

Aizawl FC's coach Manuel Retamero Fraile with skipper David Lalrinmuana.

After putting up a spirited performance in their first ever I-League game last week, in a 3-1 defeat at Mohun Bagan, Aizawl, on the eve of their first home I-league game, took part in their maiden pre-match press conference (at home). Both coaches from Aizawl FC and Bengaluru FC turned up for the mandatory media interaction, at the Aizawl Press Club, to talk about the eagerly-awaited match between the teams on Saturday.

Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood anticipated a nervy match on Saturday. He said Aizawl have a good blend of local as well as foreign players. He opined that 16 matches are not enough to give a true reflection of the most consistent sides and added that each team will have to try and win every game.

Meanwhile, he didn't forget to wish the new team luck ahead of the big match. “I am expecting that Aizawl FC will have a good season ahead.”

Home advantage

Aizawl, where the match is to take place on Saturday, is at a higher altitude than other venues and it could be a key advantage for the home team. Reflecting upon this, Westwood admitted they arrived in Aizawl two days prior to the match in order to get acclimatised and have at least two practice sessions before the match.

BFC's goalkeeper Thuammawia, who hails from Mizoram, didn't hide his emotion ahead of the match.

Aizawl FC's coach Manuel Retamero Fraile, talking about their previous match, said: “Having played against champions in the very first match, my boys played their heart out and we showed our true potential.”

On the starting lineup, he was a bit coy. “Anyone can get into the starting lineup. The best eleven, who'll be most effective based on the given circumstances, will hit the pitch against Bengaluru FC.”

Certainly aware of the opponents' strength, Manuel believes the support of the enthusiastic local fans will be an advantage for the Aizawl side. “It's not only the eleven guys who will play against Bengaluru FC tomorrow, entire Aizawl will be there. We're fully aware of the fact that we're not only Aizawl FC tomorrow, we're going to represent entire Mizoram,” he said.

Aizawl FC skipper David Lalrinmuana professed that his team can leave the ground with three points tomorrow if they play to their potential.