Imphal: Neroca FC are on the cusp of lifting the Second Division League silverware as the first Manipur-outfit to attain the enormous feat. They will have a perfect sign-off as they host Kolkata-based Southern Samity in the final 90 minutes of the Second Division League 2016-17 at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal at 02:30 PM tomorrow (May 28, 2017), before lifting the coveted silverware in front of their home supporters.
Neroca FC are currently cushioned at the pole position with 23 points from 9 matches, 6 points clear of second-placed Southern Samity having played an equal number of games.
The Orange Brigade who narrowly missed the chance last season shrugged off the slip-up before hitting the bull’s eye this season.
“We were down, for obvious reasons but we regrouped well and set the target once again. We had the confidence in ourselves and we knew we could do it if we could rightly execute our plans on the pitch”, Coach Gift Raikhan stated during the pre-match press conference before taking on Southern Samity tomorrow (May 28, 2017).
Gift further added, “We had to start from zero and we were ready for that. We planned accordingly and took one match at a time. Fortunately, by the God’s grace, we executed our plans and the results came our way.”
On being asked about their pristine unbeatable run in the National Finals, he maintained, “Yes, it made a real difference for us. Some matches were closer where we had to toil too hard to get the result. Eventually, we held our nerves to churn out the results.”
Neroca FC are currently, enjoying a 13-match unbeaten run in the Second Division League 2016-17 (including 9 matches played in the National Finals so far). Southern Samity ran neck-to-neck with Neroca FC before suffering major setbacks against Kenkre FC and Delhi United FC.
Hemanta Dora, Southern Samity gaffer, also lauded Neroca FC’s efforts wholeheartedly, “They have proved their worth and they are the deserving champions in the true sense. We were also vying for the holy grail of Indian Football but a few mistakes cost us deeply.”
He lamented the losses as well, “had we not lost those two (Delhi United FC & Kenkre FC), tomorrow’s encounter could have boiled down to a perfect showstopper of the season.”
Deepak Mondal, Arjuna awardee & ex-National praised Neroca FC too, “Manipur have produced top-quality players time and again but the focus will be more next season when the big teams will come to play I-League matches. Definitely, it’ll serve the Indian Football in a positive way to garner more footballers who’ll don the National Colour in the near future.”