In a mid-table clash here at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Thursday, Aizawl FC take on Rajasthan United FC in the I-League. But there is still so little difference between third-placed Gokulam Kerala and the rest (except wooden-spooners Sudeva Delhi FC) that the winning team tomorrow can jump quite a few places.
While defending champions Gokulam Kashmir FC are on 24 points, Aizawl FC have 20 points in the kitty and Rajasthan United FC have 18. Therefore, a victory will take Pushpender Kundu’s men ahead of Aizawl. But playing at a high altitude is never easy and Aizawl FC are a tough team to beat at home. They have lost only once at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium this season, to Sreenidi Deccan FC, while drawing two and winning four.
Citing this, Aizawl FC coach Caetano Pinho said on the eve of the match, “Rajasthan United FC are definitely not an easy team to beat, but with due respect to them, it is our home match and we are going for all three points.”
His midfielder Lalchhanima Sailo was even more specific. “We are going to try and score within the first 15 minutes,” he remarked.
Rajasthan United coach Pushpender Kundu, understandably, sounded cautious.
“These are different conditions for us, but a couple of our players are from Mizoram. Those who are not also have had the experience of playing here, so they are all comfortable. We’re prepared for the pressure,” he said.
Aizawl FC’s performance has been up and down since I-League resumed last month. They could not get past Real Kashmir FC in the New Year’s first match, then defeated Sudeva Delhi FC in New Delhi. But went down to NEROCA FC in Imphal before coming back to winning ways against Mohammedan Sporting here on Republic Day.
This inconsistency could provide Pushpender with some hope. However, his own team’s situation is not too inspiring. The coach is aware of that and said “We lost a couple of key players to the Indian Super League in the winter transfer window, but these things are part and parcel of the game. We are hoping to put up a good performance tomorrow.”
The match will be telecast live on Eurosport, DD Sports and Discovery Plus OTT platform from 2pm.