IMPHAL [MANIPUR]: TRAU FC and Aizawl FC have six matches each left in the I-League and a high finish is within reach for both. When they lock horns here at the Khuman Lampak Stadium on Friday, TRAU's eyes will be on the third spot.
A win will take the Red Pythons to 29 points, overtaking Churchill Brothers and Gokulam Kerala in the process. On the other hand, if Aizawl win, they will level on points with TRAU and Churchill Brothers. That would keep the Reds in a good position for the last four matches as well.
TRAU's performance has been up and down but the victory against Churchill in the last match must have done a world of good to the squad's confidence. Coach Leimapokpam Nandakumar Singh, a man of few words, showed that calm confidence in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
"Our intention is to enter the top five," he said. "Players are responding very well to the preparations."
He admitted there is quality in Aizawl ranks, but added, "At this juncture, we have to win. I think tomorrow's game will be of high intensity and our boys will give a good performance to get three points."
Aizawl are not low on confidence either. They ran a team like RoundGlass Punjab close in the last match and had won two consecutive matches before that. This is why Nandakumar's counterpart Caetano Pinho said, "The atmosphere in the camp is very good. We had a very good last match, though the result did not go in our favour. But there's strong belief among the players that we can play well and take the fight to the higher-ranked teams on the table."
However, the Aizawl coach is conscious of the challenge awaiting his boys. "TRAU have been a very strong home team," he said. "We always play to win but because of TRAU's strength at home, tomorrow we'll be a bit cautious."
"However, because of the situation of the table, getting three points tomorrow is crucial for us," he added.
Pinho made an interesting remark about the Hero I-League, which may acquire more significance as the final positions are decided. He said, "No team is easy to beat in this league. At the same time, no team is unbeatable. All depends on how the players play on a particular day."
Both teams will be banking on their supporters to provide them with some extra energy for this match. Any match at this venue attracts a good number of local fans and Pinho said he is expecting some fans from Aizawl as well.
Visit news.dtnext.in to explore our interactive epaper!
Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!
Click here for iOS
Click here for Android