While the race heats up at the top of the I-League table, the two teams clashing on Saturday, January 5, 2019, at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Aizawl, will have title aspirations farthest from their minds.
The game between hosts Aizawl FC and the Indian Arrows, placed and ninth and 10th on the 11-team table, respectively, at the half-way stage, kicks-off at 2 pm IST.
It, however, promises to be a fast-paced and thrilling encounter, given both sides are attack-minded and relatively young. Aizawl, the more accomplished of the two sides under the able guidance of Gift Raikhan, are enjoying an extended home stint, after a rough time on the road.
Reiterating the importance of Saturday’s game for his side, Raikhan also spoke about his new attacking recruit in the pre-game presser saying, “We will be expecting three points from tomorrow’s game because last time we played against Arrows it was a draw and we got some pretty close chances but missed them. This time we should be scoring to get three points. New player Richard and Kareem Omoloja will be playing tomorrow and Kromah will not be playing as he is injured, but will be ready for the next against Kashmir. It is a very important game tomorrow, because If we win then we will be in the picture.”
His side so far has nine points from 10 games.
In the first leg, at Cuttack’s Barabati Stadium, the Arrows had caught Aizawl at the end of a torrid month on the road to hold them goalless. Since then, the former champions have had a break, and have been at home and warmed up with a fighting 3-2 win against tough Gokulam Kerala last week.
The Arrows youngsters too continue to punch above their weight in this their second season and have notched up four points in their last three games. They were up to it against the dangerous Churchill in their last game as well, going down by a solitary goal.
Floyd Pinto, the Indian Arrows coach shared in the pre-game media conference, “Just like any other game, we are planning to put upon some performance like how we played Aizawl at home. The boys are going to bounce back from the last match against Churchill Brothers. I just hope that the boys play well and if they play to their potential, I think we can go back with three points.”
The difference on Saturday will probably lie in a team’s ability to score goals and Aizawl probably is ahead considerably in that regard, making them clear favourites, given other conditions like the home advantage in their favour.