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Aizawl FC become first Mizoram club to qualify for I-League

Thursday, May 7, 2015

/ Published by VIRTHLI
Kolkata: Aizawl FC authored a new chapter in Indian football by qualifying for the top tier of the I-League after emerging champions in the second division with a round to spare in Golaghat, Assam, on Wednesday.

Aizawl FC beat state-rivals Chanmari FC 4-2 in the penultimate round to take their tally to 31 points from 13 matches. With LoneStar Kashmir FC playing out a 1-1 draw against Kenkre Sports in another match, Aizawl FC sealed their berth in the 2015-16 I-League on Wednesday itself.

Kashmir FC, who had to win to stay in the hunt, have 27 points and can't catch Aizawl FC even if they win their last match. L Laldampuia netted a brace, while Brandon VL and Alfred Jaryan got one each for Aizawl FC. Chanmari scored through M Malswamfela and C Lalrosanga.

Aizawl FC became the fourth team from the northeast to feature in the country's top league, but the first from Mizoram. They thus broke the monopoly of Shillong, which has `produced' three I-League clubs - Lajong FC, Royal Wahingdoh and Rangdajied United FC.

"This is really a great achievement for the club," said team manager Hmingthana Zadeng, who was not expecting the club to seal qualification on Wednesday itself. It's indeed an outstanding achievement by a club which was established in 1984 and almost became defunct a decade later. It was the untiring efforts of current president and owner Robert Romawia Royte which revived the club. And, within five years, they won the Mizoram Premier League and, now, have found a place among the elite clubs of Indian football. "Our aim was to qualify for the I-League... The hard work and dedication of the players and the coaching staff are the reasons behind this success," said Royte.

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar congratulated the team from Mizoram. "Aizawl FC have done a great job and it is good to have a team (in I-League) from a new state. Aizawl FC will get a lot of confidence from what Royal Wahingdoh have done in their first season," he said.

The entire bunch of Aizawl FC players represented Mizoram in the National Games in Kerala earlier this year and emerged champions. That helped the team immensely in their second division I-League campaign, as coach Dr Birbal Singh pointed out.

"The players have been together for over three months and that helped foster team spirit. We also learnt a lot from our campaign in the second division I-League last year when we failed to gain promotion. These factors played a big role in our arduous campaign starting from the first leg in Siliguri," said Singh, who is from Manipur. "The Mizo boys are extremely talented and all they need is proper guidance."

Apart from their foreign players - strikers Alfred Jaryan (Liberia), Morgan Justice (Nigeria) and defender Emmanuel Chigozie (Nigeria) - Singh praised midfielders David Lalrinmuana (captain) and Rohmingthanga Lengpui. "We have a good midfield and that allowed us to control most of the games," he quipped.

Asked about his plans now that the club has made the top grade, owner Royte said, "The immediate plan is to have a big celebration back home."

Source: TOI
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