AIZAWL FC HEAD COACH Manuel Retamero Fraile is confident that his side has what it takes to put up a strong fight against Bengaluru FC on Saturday.
The much anticipated encounter, which is expected to have a sold-out crowd, is the first top division match to be played in Mizoram, and the second I-League match in the history of Aizawl FC.
One of the concerns for the visiting teams about playing in Aizawl has been its low temperatures that most Indian players are not accustomed to. But Saturday's match is scheduled to kick-off at the 20,000-capacity Rajiv Gandhi Stadium at 1 pm; so the temperature is unlikely to be much of a factor.
Contacted by TFG and asked whether he would prefer evening matches to use the climate advantage, the former Real Valladolid B and Bahrain U-19 manager said it wasn't much of a worry for him,
"I'm not very concerned with the kick-off time as long as my players put up a performance like they did in the last match. And we have an extra motivation this time; the people of Aizawl who will be backing us."
Aizawl FC played their debut match away from home, against defending champions Mohun Bagan. They lost the match 3-1 but in the second half dominated proceedings and creating multiple chances. Afterwards, Fraile pointed out the favourable statistics from the match in a Facebook post, and said he was proud of the team.
Fraile said that the atmosphere in the city was brimming with excitement ahead of the club's historic home debut,
"It's a great and fantastic moment for all people here in Aizawl. I would like to have a positive result in this game, for our fans and all Mizo people. I hope the team keep in mind that they are not only playing for this club but for all citizens of Aizawl."
Aizawl FC, dubbed "The Peoples' Club" by their fans, are the local league champions and the most popular club in the state. And a good show against Bengaluru FC on Saturday has the potential to gather them enough momentum to have a season that will earn the state of Mizoram - who are already dominating the rest of the country in inter-state football - a place of honour in Indian football's professional circuit as well.