I-League 2018-19: NEROCA FC stadium to get floodlights; PM Modi to flag off project
Football-crazy people of Manipur have one more reason to cheer. The Khuman Lampak Stadium, home of I-League club NEROCA FC, is all set to get floodlights from the next season, which means the fans will get to see their favourite team play under lights.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the capital of Manipur on Friday, January 4, and will flag off several projects, which includes installation of floodlights at the Khuman Lampak stadium. He will also lay the foundation of an astroturf football ground, costing about Rs 10 crore, and another football ground at Imphal west.
Coach Manuel Retamero Fraile welcomed the move and said it is great news for the fans. “Even during our 2 pm matches, you could see that the fans thronged to the stadium. The number will increase manifold if the matches are played under lights. We expect the matches would be more interesting from next season. The players will also enjoy playing under lights,” Retamero told Sportskeeda.
When asked when the installation of the floodlights would be complete, NEROCA media manager Sunday Meitei said: “We cannot say how long it will take to finish the project, but we are hoping to see the team play under lights from next season. That will be great for our football."
It is learnt that the club had made a suggestion to the Manipur state government to install floodlights and the government has finally sanctioned the project. The stadium, which falls under Khuman Lampak Sports Complex, will be embraced by the floodlight towers.
Until now, NEROCA played all their home games at 2 pm, which kept a large number of officegoers away from the stadium. Even then, there was an average attendance of about 15,000 for NEROCA matches.
The stadium, which has a capacity of more than 35,000, will see an increase in the number of spectators once the lights are installed.
Long touted as a hotbed for Northeast football, NEROCA made history last season when they became the first club from Manipur to qualify for the I-League. They produced some eye-catching performances under Gift Raikhan to finish second on the league table in the 2017-18 season.
NEROCA roped in Fraile to replace Raikhan, who left for Aizawl FC, and are producing some football this season too. They are placed third on the table, three points behind leaders Chennai City FC and trailing second-placed Real Kashmir on goal difference.