NEROCA FC skipper Varney Kallon is looking forward to a fresh start in I-League 2020-21 leaving the hiccups from the last season behind.
“It’s true that we had a tough season in I-League (2018-19). Some results went against us although we tried to give everything on the field. But, this is going to be a fresh start and we’ll leave no stone unturned to put NEROCA where they used to be,” a determined Kallon echoed.
NEROCA caught everyone’s imagination in their debut season (2017-18) itself when they had a shot at the silverware till the final day of the league until Minerva Punjab FC clinched it at Ludhiana. The Orange outfit, thanks to their nine wins and five draws, finished the campaign with 32 points, 3 shy of the champions. Captain Varney Kallon walked away with the Jarnail Singh Best Defender of the League award for his astounding display in their own half.
But, I-League 2019-20 turned to be a roller-coaster ride for the Manipuri team as they had to swallow a hard-fought loss to cross-city debutants TRAU FC in the first-ever Imphal Derby in I-League. They were tottering in the eleventh spot with 18 points from 16 outings before the league got suspended owing to COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s (NEROCA) like my second home away from home. That’s the reason I wanted to stay here for a longer period and take NEROCA to greater heights,” the Liberian central defender continued. “I love the people and their passion for football. They chant for you, and they sing for you when you perform. They will even cry with you when the team is going through a tough phase.”
The 27-year-old mentioned another strong connection of himself which makes him stay closer to NEROCA – head coach Gift Raikhan, who is nothing short of an “elder brother” to the seasoned defender.
“Working with Gift (Raikhan) is indeed a gift for me. He is that sort of a coach who knows how to bring out the best in a player. He’s one of the prime reasons why I love to play in India. He’s nothing less than my elder brother to me. I owe him everything,” Kallon mentioned.
Moreover, he rued playing in an empty stadium sans the vocal NEROCA supporters who have always backed the team through thick and thin.
“I would miss the crowd very much. Every team envies our supporters. When we speak off the pitch, every player mentions how much pressure our supporters put on them when they come to Imphal. But, given the circumstances, it can’t be helped. This is the best alternative in this situation and I believe our supporters would pray for us right, wherever they are.”