Nigerian striker Princewill Emeka, who has signed for I-League club Aizawl FC for the upcoming season, has spoken about how not having fans in the stadium makes him even more determined to win the I-League for them.
“Aizawl FC supporters have been the real backbone of the club and they stay very vocal on matchdays. They are the real twelfth man of Aizawl FC. But, if you are playing against them, they make your life tougher,” Princewill Emeka told the i-league.org website.
“We’ll miss the drumbeats, constant cheering from the stands this time. Obviously, we are sad but we are determined to win the trophy for them," he added.
Princewill Emeka scored three goals in fifteen appearances for I-League debutants Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) last season. He also helped them gain promotion to the top division from the I-League second division the season before.
Aizawl FC won the I-League in the 2016-17 season in what was a fairytale season for the team, and with Emeka in their team this season, they have added firepower to their frontline.
Princewill Emeka reveals Aizawl FC coach's role in signing him
Princewill Emeka also revealed how Aizawl FC coach Stanley Rozario was instrumental in his signing with the club.
“I had a long discussion with coach (Stanley Rozario) before signing here. He followed my game since long and he was convinced about my ability. Now, the onus is on me to repay and score more goals. If we can play to our true potential, we can win the Hero I-League once again,” said the 28-year-old Nigerian Emeka.
“No team will get the home advantage and the new format is going to be challenging for all of us. We will need to get in on the act quickly as adapting to the conditions will be important. We will have to be on our toes throughout and treat every match as a final," he added.
The I-League is all set to kick off on January 9, with the requisite COVID protocols in place in Kolkata and Kalyani. There have been alterations to the format of the league, with each team playing each other once in a round-robin first stage. However, post that, the teams will be divided into two groups, with the top six teams in one group and the bottom five in the other.
The top six will then play each other once, and so will the bottom five. The team with the maximum points (collected cumulatively from all the fifteen matches), will be declared the winner of the I-League.