NEROCA script history, earn I-League promotion


NEW DELHI, 22nd May: North Eastern Re-Organising Cultural Association Football Club (NEROCA FC) have won the 2016/17 edition of 2nd Division I-League and are on their way to the I-League for the very first time in their history. The Imphal-based club beat Lonestar Kashmir 1-4 in Srinagar in the penultimate round on Tuesday toachieve an nassailable seven point lead over second placed  Southern Samity, who have a game in hand. It means the Orange Brigade will be playing top-flight football next season for the first time in 52 years of their existence. Also, they would represent the state of Manipur for the very first time at the highest level.

Having secured the title with a game in hand, NEROCA FC become the latest emerging side from the footballing hotbed of Northeastern India. This season's I-League champions Aizawl FC too followed a similar route three seasons ago when they won the 2014/15 edition of the 2nd Division I-League. Coached by Gift Raikhan, a former Pune FC academy coach, NEROCA FC emerged as leaders from Group B in the preliminary round. In the final round, NEROCA FC are yet to be beaten, racing to 23 points after playing out seven wins and two draws from the nine games.

This season, the club had strenghtened their roster with the inclusions of Japan born Indian midfielder Arata Izumi and former Bengaluru FC man Malemnganba Meitei among others. Incidentally, in the last game of the season NEROCA FC host second-placed Southern Samity at their 30,000 seater home ground, Khuman Lampak Stadium. Having never dropped points at home, the boys from Northeast India would hope to end the season on a winning note as they lift the trophy and put Manipur on the footballing map of India.

AIFF, AMFA congratulate:
All India Football Federation congratulated Manipur’s Neroca FC on winning the Second Division League 2016- 17. Manipur drubbed Lonestar Kashmir FC 4-1 in Kashmir today (May 22) to become the first ever Team from Manipur to achieve the feat. The victory lifted Neroca to 23 points from 9 matches, 7 points clear of Kolkata’s Southern Samity.

AIFF General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das lavished praise on  the champions saying: “After Aizawl FC's success we have another team from the North East who are keeping the flag flying high. Congratulations Neroca FC on winning the Second division League.” He added: "I am sure their achievement will encourage more to take up the sport and spur off another social revolution, this time in Manipur."

Mr. Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League also lauded the Manipur- outfit. "After Shillong Lajong FC came up the ranks to represent the Northeast region in the National Football map, Aizawl FC set an example recently. Northeast has always been the hotbed of Indian Football and Neroca FC would, surely, take the legacy forward,” he stated. "With Neroca FC's  introduction into the top flight Indian Football, the competition in the Northeast region will definitely be fiercer and tougher.”

Following their sole loss in the zonal round to Mohammedan Sporting in January 2017, Neroca FC went on to continue an enviable unbeaten run of 12 matches including today's win against Lonestar Kashmir FC. In the final round, the Gift Raikhancoached  side conceded only three goals in eight matches while netting not less than fifteen.Joining AIFF, the All Manipur Football Association (AMFA) on Monday congratulated NEROCA FC on emerging undoubted winners of the  2nd Division League 2016-17 after sealing 23 points with only game in hand against Southern Samity. NEROCA defeated LoneStar Kashmir 4-1 in their Monday’s fixture, confirming their promotion to the I-League. While applauding the stateclub on their stellar achievement, AMFA in a press release said, “With this success and qualification in the Hero I-League, the All Manipur Football Association  s confident of bringing a completechange in the football scenario of Manipur witnessing big teams of the country playing in the state.” 

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