I-League: Winless Ma­nipur Ne­roca take on buoy­ant Real Kash­mir

The Sunday Guardian - - Sports -

SRINAGAR: In quest of their first vic­tory of the on­go­ing I-League sea­son, Ma­nipurs Ne­roca FC will take on debu­tants Real Kash­mir FC at the TRC ground here on Sun­day.

Ne­roca have so far drawn two and lost one till now while the home side won their open­ing en­counter against Min­erva Pun­jab FC be­fore draw­ing their sec­ond game against Churchill at the same venue. A win on Sun­day will draw the debu­tants level on points with ta­ble top­pers Chen­nai City FC.

Real Kash­mir›s Scot­tish coach David Robert­son will rue the fact that his team could not pull off a win at home in their pre­vi­ous game, de­spite their op­po­nents play­ing with 10 men for the en­tire sec­ond half. An over-depen­dence on Ivo­rian striker Gno­here Krizo, who net­ted the win­ner against Min­erva, to score was ob­served and Robert­son might look to cor­rect that. Kash­mir›s four-man back line led by the coach›s son Ma­son Robert­son and cap­tain Love­day Okechukwu looked de­pend­able but more im­pe­tus needs to come from the mid­field where the likes of Zam­bian Aaron Katebe and Ivo­rian Bazie Ar­mand will have to re­turn bet­ter shifts. Goal­keeper Bi­lal has kept a clean sheet till now and has brought about some very good saves, which would be handy against an at­tack-minded Ne­roca side. David Robert­son, shar­ing his thoughts on match-day eve, said: “We are ex­cited for Sun­day. It will be a new ex­pe­ri­ence, a new chal- lenge and a tough game. Our play­ers are con­fi­dent fac­ing a new team all over again.”

“There is no pres­sure but we want to make sure we don›t dis­ap­point our spec­ta­tors. We are a hard-work­ing team over­all, and I have full faith on my team to give their best on the pitch,” he added. Ne­roca›s wor­ries are stem­ming from a mis­fir­ing for­ward line and the only goal they have scored so far in the cam­paign has come from cen­tral de­fender Ed­uardo Fer­ri­era of Brazil, who missed their pre­vi­ous game against Aizawl af­ter pick­ing up an in­jury in warm up.

Sing­ham Subash Singh who scored four times in their de­but cam­paign last year has lost his place in the start­ing eleven and Nige­rian Fe­lix Chidi who had seven goals last year has also not opened his ac­count this sea­son. It re­mains to be seen if in­spi­ra­tional winger Kat­sumi Yusa of Ja­pan, who also went out with an in­jury in the opener against East Ben­gal and Ed­uardo are fit and back for ser­vice come Sun­day.

Speak­ing be­fore the game, Ne­roca head coach Manuel Fraile said: “We want three points from Kash­mir, that›s more im­por­tant for us. We have time to im­prove our mis­takes. My team is work­ing good and we will look for­ward to score goals. It›s cold here but that›s not an is­sue for us.” “We have to be fo­cused on our game plan. We will en­joy the game and we hope we have a good crowd to­mor­row, for us as well as for the home side,” he added. IANS

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