SATURDAY WILL SEE newly promoted I-League club Aizawl FC play their very first match on home soil against Bengaluru FC. The occasion is quite historic as this will be the first top division professional football match taking place in the state of Mizoram. And the fans in the football-crazy city are turning up in great numbers to witness this encounter.
Ever since Aizawl FC won the 2nd Division last season to gain promotion to India's top-tier football league, city authorities have been working hard to renovate the 20,000 capacity Rajiv Gandhi Stadium to get it ready to host I-League matches. Their work has finished recently and finally, yesterday, the tickets for Saturday's match went on sale.
The response they got was immediate and overwhelming. The tickets, priced Rs 200, 500 and 1000, started selling fast the moment the counters opened and within hours they had sold 80% of all tickets, according to a report on Mizo sports portal inkhel.com. Today, as we write this report, few tickets remain available and it is pretty much guaranteed that they will completely sell out by tomorrow.
The city of Aizawl has always had a robust following for football and it was evident during the Mizoram Premier League where local clubs attracted throngs of fans at the Lammual Stadium. But an interest of this magnitude over a football match have rarely been seen before.
Meanwhile, the Bengaluru FC squad has reached Aizawl ahead of the long-awaited fixture.
Aizawl FC, who were recently crowned champions at the Mizoram Premier League, have a large following across the state and country. Their I-League debut match against Mohun Bagan saw around 200 away fans show up at Barasat to support them.
There is little doubt that the sold out arena will make for a great atmosphere for the match, which will kick off early at 1 pm on Saturday since the stadium is yet to be equipped with floodlights.
Sadly, football fans around the country will be deprived from catching the action live since I-League's official broadcasters Ten Action have decided not to televise this match, despite the fact that no other I-League match will take place at the same time as this game. The network's rather ill-thought selective broadcasting strategy, which caused controversy earlier as it had unintentionally left Mumbai FC out of its schedule, is likely to cause fans to miss out on this and many other exciting and important matches being held throughout this season.