Aizawl set to face stiff challenge from gritty Arrows
Aizawl, Feb 22 (PTI) Out of title contention, defending champions Aizawl FC will be aiming to improve upon their mid-table position when they take on bottom-placed Indian Arrows in an I-League encounter, here tomorrow.
The AIFF developmental squad has been better than what the current league table indicates. Luis Norton de Matos' team have 15 points from 16 games but to their relief, they have immunity from relegation as per league rules.
Aizawl, the surprise champions of last year are currently seventh in the table with 18 points from 15 games but more importantly have gone winless in their last eight games in which they have managed only five points.
Having taken over from Paulo Menezes, this will be seasoned Santosh Kashyap's first match at home ground.
The first match under his guidance was a high-scoring draw in Goa, followed by a 1-2 loss to Lajong in an away game.
Arrows, who are lying at the bottom of the table after 16 games, will need nothing but three points, should they want to climb up the ladder.
The De Matos-coached Arrows are a bit ahead in terms of recently-played games as they have got five points from their last four outings.
Speaking to the media on the eve of the match, De Matos said: "We should not forget that this is not a senior team and the idea is to learn and progress. After 16 games, my expectation was lesser compared to what we have achieved and 15 points are good. Every team in the league depends a lot on foreigners and we have no foreigners."
"Our main aim is not the points but the development of the boys. We have to think the development of all the boys. After two to three years, these boys will develop to another level", Matos stressed on the development than the points accumulated this season.
Edmund Lalrindika, who scored his first goal of the season against Aizawl in their last match, said, "I'm excited to be playing in Aizawl. In our last three games, we won one and drew two. We will play to get three points tomorrow."
Meanwhile, the former India U-19 skipper pointed out that the crowd support behind Aizawl FC might give the hosts an edge over them.
"If we can play our game, I know we can win but it won't be an easy game as Aizawl FC always have a huge crowd.