MPHAL,28th May: NEROCA FC celebrated their 2nd Division League title with a resounding 4-1 win over Southern Samity in their final league game at Khuman Lampak Main Stadium on Sunday. The hosts fought off an early deficit to seal a stunning turnaround as Pritam Singh struck twice with Subash Singh and Felix Chidi chipping in with a goal apiece.
Ashim Biswas put the visitors in front just 10 minutes into the first half. The Orange Brigade, however, recovered when Pritam found their breakthrough in the 25th minute before he made it 2-1 in the 36th minute.
After the restart, NEROCA were never in doubt as they added two more goals courtesy of Subash Singh (57th) and Felix Chidi (61st). NEROCA ended their campaign with 26 points from 10 matches consisting of 8 wins and 2 draws whereas second-placed Southern Samity stayed nine points shy having played an equal number of matches.
Former Manipuri stars lauded Neroca FC’s feat of winning the Second Division League and becoming the first Club from the State to scale the height. “It is a huge achievement,” commented Renedy Singh, arguably the biggest name to have emerged from Manipur’s galaxy. “The win came at the right time which will prove worthwhile for not only the Club but for Indian Football as a whole,” he stated.
Defender par excellence Gouramangi Singh couldn’t hold his emotions back while explaining Neroca’s FC achievement. “It is probably the best ever ‘collective’ advertisement of Manipuri Football till now. I have been following Neroca FC since their inception. The management have shown a real intent the results are there for all to see. On a scale of 10, I would give them full marks –10 out of 10,” he maintained. He added: “Since the zonal round, they have played like true champions and eventually lifted the silverware.”
Surkumar Singh, the resolute ex-National Team right back described Neroca FC’s win from a different point. “Neroca’s win will have a terrific impact on the youngsters who want to take Football as a career option. The parents will look forward to encouraging their kids to play the game with more seriousness,” he felt.
Surkumar quipped: “Had we had a Team from Manipur during out playing days, we would have emerged as the best Team. I wish I was 20 again and I could play for Neroca,” he smiled. Gouramangi credited Neroca for not ever “losing the hope.”
“Neroca FC came very close last year too but others pipped them to make the cut. I would credit them to not lose the hope. They had to push the limits this year to overcome the barrier and they rightly did so,” Gouramangi pronounced.