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Neroca feeling pressure

Calcutta/Imphal: After a minor blip, Neroca FC registered back-to-back wins in the I-League and their quest for the title will be put to the test when they take on Aizawl FC at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Saturday.

Gift Raikhan’s side are on a good run in the I-League. They are second on the table behind Minerva Punjab FC with 27 points from 14 games.

After a loss in the opening game of the season, Neroca had an incredible nine-game unbeaten run before losing to Lajong FC and Minerva Punjab earlier this month. Since the two defeats, they have picked up momentum and edged out Churchill Brothers and Gokulam Kerala FC in their last two games.

“There will always be pressure because we’re on a very good run now. But I do feel pressure and so do all the players. Football is all about pressure, though. So, we need to work hard.

“If we don’t win, there is no chance to be champions. So, we need to divert our minds from this pressure aspect and work hard,” said Raikhan ahead of their crucial home match against Aizawl FC.

Felix Chidi (five) and Subhash Singh (three) have been in good scoring form, while Nedo Turkovic has also been effective. Rakhan will hope the trio can take full advantage of the depleted look the defending champions seem to be wearing.

In a relief for Aizawl FC, defender Masih Saighani got the Protected Area Permit (PAP) required for Afghan nationals to enter Manipur, making him eligible to play against Neroca. “The Home Ministry has issued the PAP and we are hoping that he (Saighani) will be able to make it to Imphal from Guwahati by an early morning flight on Saturday morning.

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