Wednesday , November 30 2022

NEROCA host Real Kashmir FC as I-League makes much-awaited return to Imphal!

On the first Sunday of the I-League 2022-23 season on November 13, the battle-hardened outfits of NEROCA FC and Real Kashmir FC will cross swords at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal.

The match will kick off tomorrow at 4.30pm and broadcast live on Eurosport and Doordarshan Sports on TV, along with live streaming on Discovery+.

NEROCA FC saw vociferous home support in the Manipur capital during the recently-held Durand Cup 2022 and speaking at the pre-match press conference, head coach Wangkhem Khogen Singh shared his thoughts on the encounter and opposition.

“We are looking forward to the first game of the season and the whole team is excited and ready for it. Real Kashmir are a good side. They have a new coach and as it is the first game for both teams, anything can happen. But, we have the home advantage and we hope to go all out for the three points,” he said.

Along with the head coach, defender David Simbo addressed the media as well. He said, “Of course, we are expecting a very tough game and know that Real Kashmir will come out very strong. We are playing at home with the backing of our amazing fans and have trained very hard during pre-season. We need to stick to our game plan and focus on the coach’s instructions. With the help of our supporters, we are positive that we will win the game at the end of the 90 minutes.”

Real Kashmir FC will be led by head coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo, a former India international as well as head coach of Sudeva Delhi FC in the I-League in the 2021-22 season. Talking about his team’s opening fixture, he said, “The mood in the RKFC camp is good. Everyone is looking positive and ready to give their 100 percent effort. NEROCA is a good team and have got quality players. However, we are more concerned about how we play tomorrow. Everyone is looking forward to the match and focussed on getting the victory.”

Snow Leopards custodian Subhasish Row Chowdhury said, “I will give my best each time and look to lead by example. Everyone is working hard and putting maximum effort to make Real Kashmir FC this season’s champions. We all have missed the fans and football is nothing without them. I’m hoping every stadium will be flooded with support and we will surely want to put on a good show for them.”

Interestingly, both NEROCA FC and Real Kashmir FC will be led by Indian coaches who hail from the same state as their respective clubs.

In the last two I-League matches between these teams, a total of 13 goals were scored — with the Snow Leopards running out 4-3 winners in the 2020-21 campaign and a thrilling 3-3 draw being played out last season. If past meetings are anything to go by, we are in for another exciting encounter on Sunday.

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