I-League: Aizawl look to extend lead in Group B

Aizawl FC will look to extend their lead at the top of Group B of the I-League and distance themselves from relegation when they take on North Eastern Re-Organising Cultural Association (NEROCA) FC at the Kishore Bharati Stadium in Kolkata on Thursday.

Aizawl FC had defeated NEROCA 2-1 in the fifth round of fixtures of the league. M.C. Malsawmzuala scored the winner in the 56th minute after Judah Emmanuel Garcia had cancelled P.C. Laldinpuia’s first-half header giving Yan Law’s side all three points.

In their last game of Phase 1, Aizawl had put in a clinical display to beat Chennai City FC 3-0. While it did not guarantee them a spot in the top-six, the three points were a big boost for them as they entered Phase 2 on top of Group B with 15 points from 11 games. Having rested in the last match week, Yan Law’s side will be raring to play again and get all three points against NEROCA.

“It was actually disappointing at first because I feel this is not where we belong. We have dominated games, but nevertheless, this is football. The boys are really motivated and will go for the three points. At the end of the day, this is a northeastern derby, and we need to win for our fans back home,” said Law.

“Every single point is important in a league format like this. We are fortunate we picked many points, and have an advantage of starting Phase 2. But, we need to keep that aside, and fight in every game, play good football and make our fans happy,” he said.

NEROCA were left stunned as the Indian Arrows put three past them in their opening Phase 2 fixture. The defeat left them stranded in fourth place in Group B with eight points from seven games. Gift Raikhan’s side is now a frontrunner for relegation, and need a massive improvement in performances in their remaining three games, starting with a victory against their close rivals Aizawl.

“Aizawl are a good side to play against – very compact, and very good on the ball. They are also a team with many youngsters. Yes, they have beaten us earlier in the season. But, now the situation is very much different. We are fighting to avoid relegation, and need to be focused the whole game to beat them,” said Raikhan.