Imphal: On a roll with an unbeaten run of four matches after two consecutive home defeats, Neroca FC will hope to keep their title aspirations alive with a win against Mohun Bagan in their final game, at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here on Sunday.
Manipur’s only representative in the I-League, Neroca currently lead the table with 31 points from 16 games, that too in their debut season in the first-division. They have two matches left with the last one being against title rivals East Bengal.
Although they lead the table, that they have played two matches more than the second-placed Minerva Punjab, who have as many games in hand have mounted up the pressure on the ‘People’s Club’ to win both of their remaining fixtures.
“Pressure is already there for me as we have only two games remaining,” said head coach Gift Raikhan.
But the title has gone miles away from just being a title for the Manipur based club. Neroca’s success augurs well for the game in this region and perhaps that is what induced Raikhan to say, “It’s not about the championship, it’s about the history, for me and the players too.”
“Opportunities like this may never come back again, we have to create history for younger generations,” he added having changed the club’s objectives from fighting for a top three finish, to chasing the title in their debut season.
Mohun Bagan however will not be an easy opposition to defeat. Irrespective of their home performances where they have lost twice and drawn four time in nine games, the Mariners are undefeated on the road.
In the five away games that they have played, Sankarlal Chakraborty’s team have won twice and drawn three. With their title hopes all battered after a shock 1-2 defeat to Gokulam, Bagan now will fight to spoil someone else’ party.
“We came prepared to fight them both on and off the field. With the vocal support, it will be a tough game. NEROCA FC is playing very well at home. It is a Sunday and their last home game, there will be lots of supporters, they are in the race as well,” said Chakraborty.
The 2014-15 champions are fourth in the table with 21 points from 14 matches.