Sreenidi’s defeat leaves them three points behind RoundGlass Punjab with three games to go.
Following a major dent in their title aspirations after the unexpected defeat against Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata, Sreenidi Deccan have now travelled to Aizawl to face Aizawl FC in the Hero I-League 2022-23 match at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Tuesday, February 28, 2023. The kick-off is at 4:30 pm IST.
The dramatic changes in the points table came after Sreenidi suffered a shock 4-6 defeat and to make the matter worse for them, RoundGlass Punjab scored a runaway 8-0 win over Sudeva Delhi to grab the top spot on the table three points ahead of Sreenidi.
Carlos Vaz Pinto wants a hasty return to the top
Addressing the media at the pre-match press conference, Sreenidi Deccan head coach Carlos Vaz Pinto said, “We lost our last game and we are reviewing the situation. We will fight tomorrow to get the three points here in Aizawl and get back to the top of the table.”
Now, the Deccan Warriors are in a situation where all they can do is to win their remaining matches and hope RoundGlass Punjab to drop points. On Tuesday, Sreenidi Deccan face a struggling Aizawl FC, who have lost four consecutive games.
Caetano Pinho talks about the slump
Talking about the slump in the form, Aizawl FC head coach Caetano Pinho said it has been a mix of bad luck and bad performances. “The results in the three away games were unfavourable. In some games, we were unlucky, while in certain games we didn’t play well, but now we are back at home and will face Sreenidi, who are fighting for the I-League championship. It won’t be an easy game,” he said.
“This is the time when we need the fans the most. We want our fans to back us up so we return to the winning ways. I request all the fans to come and support us,” the Indian coach added.
Added home advantage for Aizawl
In tomorrow’s match, Pinho feels the home advantage will come to his team’s benefit. However, Sreenidi Deccan’s recent loss could mean the Deccan Warriors will come with all guns blazing. The Indian coach expects an even contest. He said, “We have analysed our opponents. I believe it will be an open game and it will be up to our boys to deliver tomorrow.”
Getting a win in Aizawl is no mean feat for any team. The People’s Club have faced just two defeats in their nine games at home. Carlos Vaz Pinto said, “We know they are a good team. But Aizawl are strong and the conditions here are much different. So, we will have to adapt. We respect them, they have quality players and a quality coach, but we are here to win.”
The match between Aizawl FC and Sreenidi Deccan will be telecast live on Eurosport and Doordarshan Sports and streamed live on the Discovery Plus OTT platform at 4:30 pm IST.
Mohammedan battle Rajasthan United
Stakes will be high when Mohammedan Sporting, fresh from their stunning 6-4 victory over Sreenidi Deccan, take on Rajasthan United in the Hero I-League tie at Kishore Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday. With only three matches left to be played by each team, both sides seem to have dodged the bullet of relegation. The Kolkata side have opened up an eight-point gap with the relegation zone with 23 points, while Rajasthan United are on 22 points. Winning the title or getting promoted to the Indian Super League has long gone out of the equation. However, these two teams have followed different trajectories since they last met in early January and finished 1-1.
Mohammedan have defeated much higher-placed teams like Gokulam Kerala and Sreenidi. They also fought hard against Real Kashmir in Srinagar – a fixture most teams find difficult to deal with. The loss to Aizawl was also a narrow one. The only team that outplayed them was current leaders RoundGlass Punjab FC. Under Kibu Vicuna, Mohammedan Sporting looked like a team that was doing everything right but not getting the results. The change, under new coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo, has been dramatic. Everyone seemed to have the ability to convert every chance in the attacking third against Sreenidi. Maintaining that form will of course be a challenge.
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Coaches’ press conference quotes
Wadoo is aware of that and said at the pre-match press conference, “Even when you win, you make mistakes, and you try to rectify them in practice sessions. We have done the same after the last game.”
On the other hand, Kundu’s boys went on a seven-match winless streak after beating Sreenidi in the game following the draw against Mohammedan Sporting on January 6. When they beat Sreenidi, it was expected that the performance graph could only go up. But the exact opposite happened. Churchill Brothers pumped in five goals past the defence of Aidar Mambetaliev, Amritpal Singh and Hardik Bhatt. Rajasthan have struggled to maintain a clean sheet right through the season, and Abiola Dauda, Kean Lewis et al are in such good scoring form that Wadoo did not miss someone like Marcus Joseph even for a moment in the last match.
Need to be more creative in attack
Rajasthan were finally able to win, when they defeated NEROCA FC by a solitary goal in the last I-League match. But it was through a lucky deflection from a defender. They will have to be more creative in attack and even better in defence to hold the black-and-white brigade who are looking to end the season on a high.
Kundu made a perfect analysis of the situation on Monday, saying, “At the beginning of the season, both of us were title contenders but today one is in the eighth spot on the points table and the other is in ninth. But that’s the beauty of the game. A win could give both of us a better position on the table.”
Wadoo felt the two teams will be equally keen to win the tie. “Rajasthan are a very good team and are very close to us on the table. I think they’ll be as hungry for points as we are because we want to finish as high on the table as possible. They must be thinking the same,” he remarked.
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