NEROCA take on Kashmir today
IMPHAL, 8th Mar: NEROCA are set to host Real Kashmir in the I-League 2018-19 at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium in Imphal, on Saturday afternoon.
For the final time this season, NEROCA take on to the field, hoping they could win in front of their home fans for the first time in two months. Six wins in the first eleven rounds almost had the Manuel Retamero-coached side as title challengers.
However, the Imphal-based side failed to live up to their expectations in the second half of the season - one win and five defeats in the last eight games - all this despite the signing of Chencho Gyeltshen, on-loan from Bengaluru FC in the winter.
Interestingly, last season's runners-up have lost only one game at home, which came in the first round of the season. Three points on Saturday will take them to 29 points but they will also have to depend on Mohun Bagan's finish to see if they at all end in a top five position.
Real Kashmir, out of the title race now, won't have happy memories of NEROCA who inflicted on them their heaviest defeat of the season - a 0-2 loss in Srinagar. That was one of the three defeats they have suffered this season in the 18 games they have played.
Even though the team from the valley will have one game more to play, a win in Imphal can secure third place if Churchill do not win against Aizawl in the simultaneous kickoff in the neighbouring state.
The David Robertson-coached side's 13-game unbeaten run came to an end in New Delhi the previous week when they lost to East Bengal. As a result, the Snow Leopards will not be able to match NEROCA's record feat of finishing runners-up after getting promoted to the I-League from the second division.