With a win in their previous outing boosting their confidence, Neroca FC will host leaders Mohun Bagan in a tricky I-League match in Imphal on Thursday.
Despite their initial struggle, there has been a sense of calm in the Orange Brigade with over half the season still left to play. The home side will be walking into the match with a huge boost in morale following their home victory against Real Kashmir, which saw them climb up the table to sixth place.
Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, are sitting comfortably on top of the table while also coming into the match after their 2-1 Kolkata derby win against arch-rivals East Bengal.
A win for Neroca would see them break into the top three, which would be an outstanding turnaround given that the Imphal-based outfit was in the dreaded relegation spot at the turn of the year.
Head coach Gift Raikhan said ahead of the game, “The match will be very difficult for Neroca. They (Mohun Bagan) have not lost in a while now. They are strong, experience-wise. Their marquee players are very good and their Indian players are very talented.”
“We have been inconsistent due to our lack of experience, but my team will improve with each passing day. As a team, we are going to fight until the end. The result will be there for everyone to see after the final whistle.”
Mohun Bagan are now unbeaten in six games and they are now three points clear of second-placed Punjab FC with a game in hand.
“The derby is behind us now. We are very happy with the result and the three points but we have been thinking about tomorrow’s game ever since Monday. We know that it is going to be very difficult,” Mohun Bagan head coach Kibu Vicuna said.
Taryk Samson at the Neroca backline will be up against Nongdamba Naorem on the left, who has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, while the likes of Chanso Horam, Siam Hanghal and Zodingliana Ralte will be in the middle of the park against Bagan’s Spanish contingent of Joseba Beitia and Fran Gonzales.