Neroca hosts defending champ Aizawl in crucial clash

Title aspiring Neroca FC hosts defending champion Aizawl FC in the I-League on Saturday.

I-League debutant NEROCA has an impressive run so far and is placed second with 27 points from 14 matches.   -  Twitter

Neroca FC has registered back-to-back wins in the I-League and its impressive title challenge will be put to the test when it takes on defending champion Aizawl FC on Saturday.

Gift Raikhan’s side is currently second on the table behind Minerva Punjab, with 27 points from 14 games.

After a loss in its opening game of the season, Neroca went on an incredible nine-game unbeaten run before losing to Shillong Lajong and Minerva earlier this month. Since the two defeats, the side has picked up momentum and edged out Churchill Brothers and Gokulam Kerala in its last two games.

READ: Aussie footballer Nick Ward to join Neroca FC

“There will always be pressure because we’re on a very good run now. I feel pressure and all the players feel pressure. But football is all about pressure. We need to work hard.

“If we don’t win, there is no chance to be champions. So we need to go away from the pressure and work hard,” said Raikhan, ahead of Saturday’s crucial clash against Aizawl.

Felix Chidi and Subhash Singh have been in good goalscoring form while Nedo Turkovic has been effective off the bench. Raikhan will hope the trio can take full advantage of the depleted defending champion.

Aizawl head coach Paulo Menezes will be without the services of Masih Saighani for the game. Menezes' side is sixth on the table with at least one game in hand compared to the rest of the teams except Gokulam Kerala. It will have to put up a series of wins if it is to climb up the table.

Aizawl is on a six-game winless run and will be desperate for three points. The side has conceded goals every time it has scored first in its last three games and defence will be Menezes’ biggest worry against Neroca.

“It will be difficult because Neroca are a good team. We expect a tough game but we are here to dignify our club so we will fight,” said Menezes.

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