The 12th Hero I-League resumes on Friday, December 28, 2018, with two mouth-watering extravaganzas lined up, beginning with the Neroca-Mohun Bagan clash at Imphal´s Khuman Lampak Stadium. This game is slated for a 2 PM kick-off.
Hosts Neroca are sitting fourth on the league table with 15 points from nine games. They are one rung above their Friday visitors, who have the same number of points from an equal number of games, but Neroca have the better goal difference.
A win on Friday will take either of the teams equal on points with current league leaders Chennai City FC, although that might change depending on the result of the day´s second game between Quess East Bengal (QEB) and Real Kashmir FC, which will follow the game in Imphal.
“First of all, I want to say Merry Christmas to everyone who have come over here. To be honest, if you ask about our performance we are improving a lot,” said Neroca boss Fraile. “Just the last match, inside our dressing room we didn´t enjoy it properly because we saw that we deserved more than just one point. We played better than Minerva.”
“It is true Mohun Bagan is behind us (on the table) but it is one of the big team, a big club in the I-League and in India too. We must respect the team like we are doing every time. But on the ground its just ´fight for three points´. we will be playing in our ground in front of our people. We are not under pressure. Of course we should be very careful as they have big players, good coach,” he said.
Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, have bounced back admirably after their derby loss against arch-rivals East Bengal, with two wins in their last two games and it all adds up to a delicious contest.
“Compared to last year Neroca FC is playing much better, if you can see last four to five matches and also the last match. They are a very good team, very tough competitor for tomorrow´s match,” said Bagan boss Sankarlal.
However, he did go on to confirm that the Green and Maroons will be missing the services of their talisman Sony Norde. “Norde is in Kolkata. he is still injured. In a league, if you play 4 matches in 12 days, it is difficult for players to recover. There is no time. So I tell all my players that you have to be prepared. Norde, (Pintu) Mahata, Saurav Das´ injury…. this all will happen but still we have to win.”
He further went on to state, “We are in the 5th position because of some silly mistakes. I have discussed with my players that they should not to go with the league table, but just go match by match. So our target is Neroca. Play and win the match. If you win according to the league table, it will change.”
The home side will be again looking for inspiration from their talismanic winger Yusa Katsumi. The Japanese has been instrumental in changing the fortunes of the Manipur side since coming back from injury. Their Nigerian striker Felix Chidi has also scored four times in the league till now and will look to prise open the Mohun Bagan defence on Friday.
The Green and Maroons´ two front men, Cameroonian Aiser Dipanda Dicka and Ugandan Henry Kisekka, have also scored four and three goals respectively, in the campaign and the Kolkata side will again look to them for succor.
Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty will, however, know that Neroca has the tighter defense of the two sides, having conceded seven to Mohun Bagan´s 10 so far, and will want to guard against that, given Neroca´s fluent attacking line-up.
All in all, it will be a battle of attrition between two equally-matched teams in good enough form, and it will be interesting to watch who blinks first.
The 12th Hero I-League resumes on Friday, December 28, 2018, with two mouth-watering extravaganzas lined up, beginning with the Neroca-Mohun Bagan clash at Khuman Lampak Stadium.
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