Aizawl in must-win gameFebruary 23, 2018, Aizawl
Gokulam FC’s revival late in the season has opened up the I-league at the top and bottom so much that defending champion Aizawl FC faces Indian Arrows in a must win game at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium here on Friday.
The host is languishing in the seventh spot with 18 points from 15 matches after losing the crucial North East derby to Shillong Lajong FC on Monday.
With Indian Arrows and Gokulam FC granted immunity from relegation by the AIFF, Aizawl is facing the threat of demotion and the ignominy of being the first champion side to be demoted in the history of I-league.
Aizawl FC’s win-less streak has stretched to eight games and the side desperately needs a win against the Arrows to stay alive in the competition.
On the eve of the crucial match, Aizawl FC coach Santosh Kashyap was lamenting the injuries and ill-health of his key players. “Masih Saighani hasn’t fully recovered from his illness. Though he has been training with the squad, he is weak and chances of him playing against Arrows looks unlikely as of now,” the coach said.
Kashyap said his team will have the advantage of playing at home in front of strong supporters, but added that the Arrows are tough opponents who played very well against his side in Goa. “It is very simple — we need three points from this match. Though we lost against Lajong, we played well and things would have been different if we had grabbed our chances early.
“This is only their third match under me and the boys are learning. We will play our natural attacking game against Arrows tomorrow [Friday],” he said.
Though placed last in the table, Indian Arrows has impressed everyone with its gutsy display. Coach Luis Norton de Matos was impressed with his boys’ performances. “We have done well and held our heads high against experienced teams.
“The boys have shown that they belong at this level. We will be the underdogs against Aizawl, but we will play our hearts out and make it very difficult for them to win,” the coach said.