Kolkata: Aizawl FC will look to extend their lead at the top of Group B and distance themselves from relegation when they take on NEROCA FC in an I-League contest at the Kishore Bharati Stadium in Kolkata, West Bengal on Thursday (March 11, 2021).
The kick-off is slated for 2 PM IST, and the match will be broadcasted live on 1Sports, whilst being streamed on the 1Sports Facebook page.
Aizawl FC had defeated Neroca FC by two goals to one back in the fifth round of fixtures of the Hero I-League Phase 1. MC Malsawmzuala scored the winner in the 56th minute after Judah Emmanuel Garcia had cancelled PC Laldinpuia’s first-half header giving Yan Law’s side all three points.
In their last game of Phase 1, Aizawl had put in a clinical display to beat Chennai City FC 3-0. While it did not guarantee them a spot in the top-six, the three points were a big boost for them as they entered Phase 2 on top of Group B with 15 points from 11 games. Having rested in the last match week, Yan Law’s side will be raring to play again and get all three points against NEROCA.
Speaking at the official pre-match press conference, Aizawl FC head coach Yan Law said, “It was actually disappointing at first because I feel this is not where we belong. We have dominated games, but nevertheless, this is football. The boys are really motivated and go for the three points. At the end of the day, this is a north-eastern derby, and we need to win for our fans back home.”
“Every single point is important in a league format like this. We are fortunate we picked many points, and have an advantage of starting Phase 2. But, we need to keep that aside, and fight in every game, play good football and make our fans happy.”
It is going to be quite a difficult game for us because it is a derby, and NEROCA are hungry for points. Our aim from this season is not only to win games, but we want to pick up more points than some of the teams in Group A. We want to win this game, and continue the momentum in the remaining games,” Law added.
Defender Lalfelkima said, “Unfortunately, we cannot fight for the title, but we are determined to play good football and make our fans happy. NEROCA lost their last game, but will fight to win. We are motivated and will fight till the end and take all three points.”
NEROCA were left stunned as the Indian Arrows put three past them in their opening Phase 2 fixture. The defeat left them stranded on fourth place in Group B with 8 points from 7 games. Gift Raikhan’s side is now a front runner for relegation, and need a massive improvement in performances in their remaining three games, starting with a victory against their close rivals Aizawl.
Sharing his thoughts on what went wrong against the Arrows, head coach Gift Raikhan said, “The result was not what we expected, especially after what we had achieved against them earlier this season. We made a few defensive mistakes, and they pounced on them. They scored an early goal, and we tried to equalise. But, things didn’t turn in our favour.”
“Aizawl are a good side to play against — very compact, and very good on the ball. They are also a team with many youngsters. Yes, they have beaten us earlier in the season. But, now the situation is very much different. We are fighting to avoid relegation, and need to be focused the whole game to beat them,” he added.
Goalkeeper Bishrojit Singh said, “We went in with high confidence before the game, which now has taken a big hit. Now, we need to move on to the next game, rectify our mistakes. It is very important to focus on what is ahead — the remaining three games. It is in our hands now, we need to play with our heart and soul, if we want to save the season!”