Imphal, February 20: Neroca FC will be playing host to Gokulam Kerala FC in the Hero I-League at the Khuman Lumpak Stadium on Friday (February 21).
The two sides have just five points between them, but the level of competition in the middle stack of the league has rendered completely different complexions to their seasons. Neroca are in the relegation zone with 12 points, while Gokulam are in fourth position with 17 points.
The Imphal-based club registered a stunning 5-0 victory over city rivals Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) about two weeks ago and the victory seemed like the perfect boost to reinvigorate their season.
However, Neroca have failed to follow up on their derby day bragging rights, managing to play out only a goalless draw at home against Indian Arrows before being humbled 2-6 by league leaders Mohun Bagan away at Kalyani.
Speaking ahead of the game, Neroca head coach Gift Raikhan said, "It was unfortunate. It was a very shameful result against Mohun Bagan but we had chances and we fought. Looking forward to the next game against Gokulam, they are a good team. They are a strong attacking side. Against them, we have to give everything we have and more."
Gokulam Kerala, on the other hand, will be coming into this fixture on the back of a derby win of their own, after achieving a 1-0 result in Coimbatore against Chennai City. However, if Gokulam are to sustain their steam, anything less than three points might see them slip out of the top-four, based on results elsewhere.
"The victory against the defending champions, who are a team that plays very good football, has given a lot of confidence. However, it's going to be a tough game away against Neroca but we remain hopeful of getting another win," Gokulam head coach Fernando Valera said.
Gokulam have a tough run of fixtures ahead, with Punjab, Quess East Bengal and Churchill Brothers waiting for the Malabarians in the next three games. Coach Valera emphasised on the importance of three points, adding, "Three points tomorrow (Friday) can help us close the gap at the top. We always focus on every game as they come and right now, we are focused on tomorrow."
Match is slated to kick-off at 2:00 pm
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Source: AIFF Release