Imphal: Back to normalcy after two shock defeats at home, hosts Neroca FC will look to make most of the chance to climb to top when they take on a resurgent Churchill Brothers at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here on Wednesday.
The game against Churchill will be the debutant’s third straight game at home but will keep then worried after a dip in form, which saw them win just once in four home matches, two of which resulted in defeats.
“There is no other option. We cannot lose three points. We have to go all out. This is the best opportunity we are getting for this season. We need to work hard and be confident if getting three points,” said head coach Gift Raikhan.
After 15 games, Neroca lie second just a point below leaders Minerva Punjab, who stand on 29 points after playing a game less. But while the Churchill encounter gives them an opportunity to climb high, anything less than a draw may well jeopardise their (Neroca’s) title ambitions, especially with third placed East Bengal in peak-form.
Churchill on the other come on the back of a 1-2 defeat to Indian Arrows. They stand on seventh with 16 points from 13 matches, but their recent form indicate Neroca won’t have it easy.
In eight games that they played in 2018, they have lost just twice, winning the other five, while one was a 1-1 draw against East Bengal. The squad after a January revamp has looked a completely different side and Alfred Fernandes was clear of his intentions when he said, “we always target three points.”
“When they travelled to Goa, they came home with three points. We have to take our chances and try to get three points,” he added.
Fernandes was referring to Churchill’s 0-1 loss to Neroca where Felix Chidi’s 22nd minute spot-kick had had sealed the game for the visitors. But having already upset Minerva and held East Bengal to a 1-1 draw, the ‘Red Machines’ will be hopeful to play the spoil-party against another title contender.
“We have come fully prepared and hoping to get something out of this match tomorrow,” Fernandes signed off.