Tag: Gift Raikhan

Gift Raikhan quits struggling Aizawl FC

AIZAWL: IndiaFooty can confirm that Gift Raikhan has resigned as head coach of Aizawl FC.

The former Neroca FC coach has, for a while now, been frustrated by Aizawl FC’s lack of results in the ongoing 2018/19 I-League, and after they lost 1-0 to Indian Arrows at home on Saturday, it appears that was the final straw for Raikhan, who handed in his resignation.

“I have hugely enjoyed my time in Aizawl, taking over after a difficult 2017/18 season and rebuilding the squad to win Mizoram Premier League after three years. However, we did not get the desired results in I-League. And for that, I am the only one responsible. I think it’s the right time for me move on,” Raikhan told IndiaFooty.

Aizawl FC have registered just two wins from their 11 games, and are currently in tenth position on the I-League standings.

Aizawl FC appoint 2017/18 I-League’s best coach

AIZAWL, MIZORAM: Aizawl FC on Wednesday have confirmed the appointment of Gift Raikhan as their new Head Coach.

The People’s Club took to their social media platforms to announce Raikhan’s arrival, who succeeded Santosh Kashyap.

The 36-year-old coach joins Aizawl FC having guided Neroca FC for over three years, in which he helped them gain promotion to the top flight from the 2nd Division League in the 2016/17 season, before leading to a surprise second-place finish in I-League in the following season.

Raikhan was also adjudged as the best coach in 2017/18 I-League, however, for all his attributes Neroca FC decided against renewing his contract at the end of last season.

“Gift Raikhan is someone who will definitely bring the wit and experience that we need to rise above this season’s underachievement, and also ensure we are a strong force in challenging for both MPL and I-League title next season.” Aizawl FC owner Robert Royte told IndiaFooty.

Raikhan was previously linked with East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting Club post.

I-League 2017/18: Neroca look to maintain pressure on the top

IMPHAL: After a minor blip, NEROCA have registered back-to-back wins in I-League and their impressive title challenge will be put to the test by defending champions Aizawl FC at the Khuman Lampak Stadium on Saturday (February 10, 2018).

Gift Raikhan’s side are on a good run in the Hero I-League. They are second on the table behind Minerva Punjab, with 27 points from 14 games. After a loss in the opening game of the season, NEROCA went on an incredible nine-game unbeaten run before losing to Lajong and Minerva Punjab earlier this month. Since the dual defeats, they have picked up from where they left and edged out Churchill Brothers and Gokulam Kerala in their last two games.

“There will always be pressure because we’re on a very good run now. I feel pressure and all the players feel pressure. But football is all about pressure. We need to work hard. If we don’t win, there is no chance to be champions. So we need to go away from the pressure and work hard,” said Raikhan ahead of their crucial tie against Aizawl FC at home.

Felix Chidi (5) and Subhash Singh (3) have been in good goalscoring form while Nedo Turkovic has been effective off the bench for the I-League new entrants. Rakhan will hope the trio can take full advantage of depleted defending champions.

Aizawl FC head coach Paulo Menezes will be without the services of Masih Saighani for the game against NEROCA. Last season’s title winners are sixth on the table with at least one game in hand compared to the rest of the teams except Gokulam Kerala. They will want to make full use of the games in hand if they are to climb up the table.

Aizawl are on a six-game winless run and will be desperate for three points. A 10-man Aizawl went down against Churchill Brothers in their last match and their last win came against Chennai City almost a month ago (January 13, 2018).

The responsibility to put the ball into the opponents’ net has largely been shared by Andrei Ionescu and Yugo Kobayashi. Aizawl have conceded goals every time they have scored first in their last three games. And against NEROCA, the defence will be Menezes’ biggest worry.

“It will be difficult because NEROCA are a good team. We expect a tough game but we are here to dignify our club so we will fight,” said Menezes.

I-League 2017/18: Chencho’s Strike Helps Minerva Continue Incredible Run At The Top

IMPHAL: A first-half strike by Chencho Gyeltshen was enough for Minerva Punjab to claim three points against Neroca FC in a top-of-the-table clash in I-League at the Khuman Lampak Stadium on Saturday.

In Lalit Thapa’s absence, Bishorjit Singh was handed goalkeeping duties instead of Sambu Mishtry by Neroca head coach Gift Raikhan. Govin Singh, Hopi Singh and Israilov Akhlidin were brought into the starting lineup in place of Ashok Singh, Ronald Singh and Nedo Turkovic.

Nepalese custodian Kiran Limbu replaces Rakshit Dagar in goal for Khogen Singh’s side. Bali Gagandeep and Altamash Sayed came into the lineup in place of Lago Bei and Moinuddin Khan as the visitors sought to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Minerva Punjab came out of the blocks immediately after kick-off and broke the deadlock in the second minute of the game.

A throw-in from the right into the box was flicked into the path of Chencho Gyeltshen by Bali Gagandeep and the Bhutanese forward latched onto it to send a terrific volley into the back of the net.

The visitors continued to put pressure on the home defence and Chenco was proving to be too difficult to handle. The ‘Bhutanese Ronaldo’ split Neroca’s backline to release William Asiedu through on goal but with only the goalkeeper to beat, the striker sent his shot crashing into the side-netting.

The Punjab-based side were visibly aggressive in their approach and looked hungry to double their lead.

Neroca’s inability to create chances was concerning for Raikhan and the head coach wasted no time in changing things around as he made two substitutions in the first half. Pritam Singh replaced an ineffective Akhlidin Israilov in midfield and Saran Singh was also thrown into the equation in place of Yumnam Singh.

The changes, however, failed to bring about a change in the overall flow of the game as Minerva continued to threaten in the attacking third whereas Neroca struggled to catch the visitors’ defence off-guard in the first-half.

Minerva Punjab threatened against after the restart as Chencho managed to pick out Asiedu inside the box from the right but the Ghanaian striker sent his effort into the hands of the Neroca goalkeeper who dived well to his right.

The home side had half-chances to their name in the second half but none of them was put away. A corner at the hour-mark was headed over the bar by Aryn Williams who rose highest at the near-post.

Felix Chidi missed Neroca’s best chance from inside the box in the 90th minute of the game when he shot inches wide.

Minerva Punjab managed to cruise to a win despite scoring only one goal as they defended valiantly in the final moments of the game to pick up all three points in a vital clash and to extend their lead at the top of the table.

The table toppers will once again be put to the test against East Bengal in an away game on January 30. Neroca will now take on Churchill Brothers in an away game on the same date.

I-League 2017/18: Neroca Host Minerva In A Top-Of-The-Table Clash

IMPHAL: NEROCA FC are all set to take on table toppers Minerva Punjab in a much-awaited top-of-the-table encounter at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium on Friday.

A surprise loss to Shillong Lajong in their last game ended NEROCA’s incredible nine-game unbeaten run in the league but Gift Raikhan’s boys will be relishing the opportunity to take on fellow title rivals in the hope of closing down the gap towards the top spot.

Just a solitary point separates the teams but the men from the north-east region have played two games more than the Punjab-based side.

“We should not take tomorrow’s match lightly also it should not be treated as a very difficult game also. It’s a football match after all. Last match ( against Shillong Lajong) was not our day. Tomorrow we will try our best,” expressed a confident Gift Raikhan, the man-in-charge at NEROCA FC.

Interestingly, NEROCA’s only other defeat in the league cam against Minerva Punjab in their first game of the season. In a match where Felix Chidi gave his side the lead, Chencho Gyeltshen and Lago Bei netted the goals that allowed Minerva Punjab to fight back and claim all three points.

“We know Minerva Punjab. We played our first match against them. We lost. We scored first but they scored two. We remember the match and accordingly will approach tomorrow’s game,” said Raikhan.

Lalit Thapa’s absence in between the sticks is something that will hurt NERCOA as Chencho and co. will look to test the stand-in goalkeeper with multiple attempts on goal. Goals have not been an issue for the team from Punjab, as they have managed to come up with results to comfortably claim the top spot with 22 points from nine games.

Head coach Khogen Singh will demand nothing less than a win from his side since Minerva Punjab are entering a testing phase in their dream run for the title.

“NEROCA are a good team. They are high on tempo but we are hoping to get three points from here,” said Khogen.

“It can be a turning point in the title race so we are prepared. They are a good side.”

Chencho Gyeltshen has been in supreme form for his side and Khogen Singh will be hoping that their star forward from Bhutan can continue his terrific form against NEROCA FC in what promises to be an exciting contest for football fanatics.

I-League 2017/18: Neroca Complete Double Over Arrows To Intrigue The Title Race

GOA: Indian Arrows went down fighting to Neroca FC as the Manipuri side won 2-0 in their I-League 2017-18 encounter at the Tilak Maidan tonight  continuing their unbeaten run to eight matches on their maiden campaign in the premier division football of India.

An own goal from Anwar Ali in the 18th minute and a late goal from Felix Odili (90’+5′) helped Neroca emerge victorious over the young Turks in front of a 5,000-odd crowd.

Going into the game, Abhijit Sarkar who had scored in the reverse fixture between the two teams made way for Suresh Singh. Another change was Edmund Lalrindika in place of Aniket Jadhav from the last game.

As for the visiting Neroca FC, the goalkeepers were shuffled with Lalit Thapa being replaced by Loitongbam Singh and the captain’s armband was worn by Subash Singh.

In the early exchanges of the game, it was an end to end football with the Arrows attacking trio of Edmund, Anwar Ali and Rahul KP taking up the attacking responsibilities.

At the other end, the visitors resorted to the incisiveness of Felix Odili and Subash Singh who were constantly trying to get in behind Arrows defence line.

When the game was evenly poised, Arrows suffered a setback as they conceded an own goal in the 18th minute.

It started when Neroca FC tried to use the long ball route to test the Arrows defence. Yumnam Gopi Singh floated in a ball into the Arrows box from near the touchline. There seemed to be no danger until a defensive mix-up between Anwar Ali and goalkeeper Prabhusukhan Gill turned out to be a costly mistake.

Anwar’s header back to the keeper caught Gill unaware. Agonisingly for the Arrows, the ball rolled into the net.

It was an even contest until the own-goal gave Neroca an unexpected lead. Arrows survived another fright as Neroca almost caught Gill off guard again.

Midfielder Aryn Williams launched a shot on goal from the half-way line after winning possession in midfield. The keeper managed to retrieve back in time to collect the ball on the goal-line.

The Manipuri side were mixing it up with long balls and attacks down the flank which was a big test for the youngsters.

Felix Odili and Subash Singh had half chances while India Arrows were not able to make their way into the attacking third until Rahim Ali nearly equalised.

The forward almost got on the end of a beautiful cutback from the right.

The cross beat the Neroca defence and Ali was storming down the left channel to reach the ball but his shot at near post went wide. It was the home side’s best chance but the half ended 1-0 with Neroca leading.

With the introduction of Aniket Jadhav and Abhijit Sarkar at half-time, Arrows had sharpness up front. They were stretching the Neroca defence with Sarkar and Jadhav offering width to the team.

Arrows were passing the ball around and enjoying more possession. Meanwhile, Neroca looked to be playing the waiting game and hit on the counter. They were doing all the defensive work.

At the 75th minute mark, the game lacked any action apart from a hopeful long ranger from Anwar Ali that sailed well over the bar. Rahim Ali nearly got in behind the defence and Suresh Singh also tried a shot from distance.

There was a late flurry from Indian Arrows but Neroca sealed a victory with the last kick of the ball as Felix Odili struck five minutes into added time.

With the win, Neroca take their tally to 18 points from 9 matches just one point shy of second-placed Kingfisher East Bengal. On the other hand, Indian Arrows stay rooted in the seventh spot with 10 points from 11 matches.

I-League 2017/18: Soundararajan Seeks To Rectify Mistakes Against Neroca

COIMBATORE: Chennai City FC were dealt a painful 1-2 blow when they met NEROCA FC in I-League earlier this season. Ngangom Ronald’s injury-time winner left Soundarajan’s boys pointless despite Jean-Micheal Joachim cancelling out Kallon Kiatamba’s first-half strike.

On Tuesday, Chennai City will seek to rectify their errors and take all three points from their newly-shifted home ground at Coimbatore.

“We have a specific strategy for the opposition team and we have the support of playing on our home ground. In Imphal, we lost the match as we missed many chances and a penalty kick. Now we know our mistakes and we will go all out tomorrow,” said V Soundararajan, the head coach of Chennai City.

Chennai City are eighth in the standings with two wins and two draws to their name. Striker Jean Micheal Joachim will be the man to mark for NEROCA as the Frenchman has already notched five goals so far in the campaign, equaling Katsumi Yusa and Aser Dipanda Dicka at the top of the goal-scoring charts.

Playmaker Soosairaj is responsible for the majority of Chennai’s forays forward. The local lad, who is a mainstay in midfield for Chennai, will look to feed Jean Joachim with early balls to get the better of the NEROCA defence, who, alongside Mohun Bagan, have only let in a league-best five goals in the campaign so far.

Singam Subhash Singh is in supreme form for NEROCA and the forward will once again spearhead the Gift Raikhan-led team’s attack. With three goals to his name, Subash has managed to catch the eye of the Indian football audience with his impressive performances up front for NEROCA.

NEROCA have only lost one game so far from a total of seven and are third in the standings, behind leaders East Bengal and Minerva Punjab. They are unbeaten in their last six games and that is an incredible run for a newly promoted side.

“We have to prepare mentally and stand together,” said a proud Raikhan. “My team is consistently doing very well now. My boys are doing well now. The team is collectively strong.”

I-League 2017/18: Subash Singh Strikes Twice To Nullify Gritty Arrows

IMPHAL: NEROCA FC registered a 2-1 win over the Indian Arrows to move up to the second place in I-League standings at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium on Friday.

A first-half brace by Subash Singh (39′, 45′) helped NEROCA outplay a young Indian Arrows side for the majority of the game. Albeit birthday boy Abhijit Sarkar (89′) scored a late goal to add some suspense towards the climax, it couldn’t deter the Gift Raikhan-coached team from bagging all three points today.

Young Prabshukhan Singh Gill continued to stand in between the sticks for Matos’ Arrows. Up front, Rahim Ali was deployed centrally and had support from Nongdamba Naorem and Rahil Kannoly Praveen on the flanks.

Nigerian striker Felix Chidi lead the line for the home side, with Akhlidin Israilov tasked with conducting play as an attacking midfielder. Seasoned striker Singam Subash Singh started the game on the left wing.

Felix Chidi was at the forefront of most of NEROCA’s forays forward. The Nigerian striker, at the half-hour mark, attempted an audacious overhead kick on Yumnam Singh’s cross from the right. He failed to connect properly and Prabshukhan heaved a sigh of relief.

NEROCA’s efforts paid off in the 39th minute. Akhlidin Israilov released a well-weighted through-ball into the path of Singam Subash Singh who chipped Prabshukhan with aplomb.

Subash doubled his tally at the stroke of half-time with another confident finish and this time, it was Felix Chidi who turned provider. Chidi split the Arrows defence and the Manipur-born forward slotted the ball into the net to end the half with a two-goal lead for NEROCA.

Luis Norton de Matos replaced Sanjeev Stalin with Naorem Singh at the break. The change failed to influence proceedings as NEROCA started the second half from where they left off at the break. Subash Singh sliced a cross into the box wide of goal in the 53rd minute as the home side kept trying to add to their goal difference.

Akhlidin Israilov, the playmaker from the Kyrgyzstani, almost made it 3-0 as his piledriver from outside the box struck the crossbar soon after the hour-mark. The attacking midfielder was having a field day in Manipur against a struggling Arrows midfield.

Arrows full-back Boris Singh surged forward and chipped a cross into the centre of the box from the right flank in the 75th minute. But it failed to reach the intended target, much like most of the Arrows’ deliveries into the box on the day.

Boris Singh’s late sliding tackle on substitute Nedo Turkovic in the 82nd minute resulted in a spot-kick for the home side. Jean Fabien Vorbe hit the net initially but was asked to take it again by the referee as Kallon crossed the line before the kick was taken. On the second go, he struck the bar preventing further misery for the Arrows.

Arrows substitute Abhijit Sarkar tapped in Rahul Praveen’s cross to conjure some hope for his side in the dying minutes but it was too late for a magical comeback as NEROCA sealed full points to make it six games without a win in the league.

With this win, Neroca FC leapfrog Minerva Punjab FC to the second spot with 14 points from 7 matches whereas Indian Arrows will stay at the seventh position with as many points having played one match more.

Indian Arrows will now set off to Shillong deal with Shillong Lajong on January 8 and Neroca FC will travel to Coimbatore to clash the swords with Chennai City FC one day later.

I-League 2017:18: Neroca ‘Excited’ Before Challenging Young Arrows

IMPHAL: NEROCA FC will be aiming to keep their hot run intact when they host the Indian Arrows in their third home game of the 2017/18 I-League at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium in Imphal on Friday.

A team that hardly looks like a newly promoted side, their standing on the league table says it all. With eleven points from six games, the Manipur-based side are placed third and they have the great opportunity to leapfrog Minerva Punjab FC to trail leaders East Bengal (17 points) by three points, that too with a game in hand.

The defeat to Minerva Punjab FC in their first game now seems a distant past as they are unbeaten in five. Coached by Gift Raikhan, the side also has managed to hold Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and Kingfisher East Bengal to draws.

The recent signing of Serbian forward Nedo Turkovic to partner Felix Chidi has provided the unit with a much-needed tooth in attack and with the presence of experienced Indians in Gouramangi Singh and Singam Subash Singh, the men in orange look a force to reckon with.

Raikhan, who has surprised many with his astute tactics did not reveal too much on the eve of the match about his thoughts. “We have a plan for tomorrow. We have a different strategy. As a coach, I don’t talk about my strategy before the game. We planned together and all my players have understood my plan. Now, we have to prove it and the plan should be successful on the field,” he said.

Skipper Lalit Thapa added, “It is not an easy game for us, they are a young team. It will be hard for us, we cannot give space to them. If we give space, they will hit us hard.”

As for the All India Football Federation (AIFF)’s development side, the Indian Arrows travel to the north-eastern state after a gritty performance at home against Kingfisher East Bengal two days ago. They play their seventh match in a month’s time and will be looking to reverse their fortunes, which see them placed seventh on the table with as many points.

“I am very excited to be in Manipur for the first time. When I came to coach the Indian U17 side first, I was touched by a lot of the players from Manipur. There is a big passion in this region for football. I now know a little bit more about football in India. There are players from Manipur in all I-League teams. It is a region of football talent. I am glad to coach so many players of Manipur,” said head coach Luis Norton de Matos in the pre-match press conference.

He added, “It is a mix of sensations. The players are excited too. The Arrows boys present in heart of NEROCA FC supporters I am sure. We have never been the favourites in any game. In I-League, all teams depend on foreigners. We are a bit different. After each game, we have the victory of experience. We try to win the game but we are not obliged to win.”

“NEROCA FC are more physical than for example Minerva Punjab FC, so we have to adapt. NEROCA FC have 2-3 foreigners I know very well and they are important to their team but we are confident in our idea of football. Irrespective of the result, the crowd which come to the stadium, they must be happy with the football and the players satisfied by the collective experience both on and off the field, which is most important”, concluded the boss.

Meanwhile, team captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam will return to the line-up after serving out a one-game suspension.

Apart from that, “There will be 5-6 (Manipur-born) on the field for (Indian Arrows) sure”, said Matos.

With both sides having a heavy influence on players from the state, the Imphal crowd is surely up for a treat when the match kicks-off at 2 PM IST.

I-League 2017/18: Neroca host East Bengal in battle of nerves

IMPHAL: Imphal city is going to witness another pulsating I-League match between Kolkata powerhouse East Bengal and Neroca FC at Khuman Lampak Stadium, Imphal tomorrow.

It’s going to be Neroca FC’s second home match following their win over Chennai City FC on 15th December. While the Red & Golds are approaching the game with 13 points from 6 matches, the hosts Neroca FC are three points shy having played one match less.

Both teams are coming to this tie at the back of crucial wins away from their home and they won’t let this opportunity go to finish 2017 on a winning note. Neroca overcame Northeastern rival Shillong Lajong 1-0 while East Bengal edged past Gokulam Kerala FC 1-0 midweek courtesy Mohammed Rafique’s long ranger in Kolkata.

Neroca FC head coach Gift Raikhan said at the press conference that he has already done with the strategy of tomorrow’s match and now it’s time to implement them on the pitch.

He said, “East Bengal is a very good team but Neroca FC is not less, it is completely our credit that we had drawn with Mohun Bagan and it gives us more confident to meet East Bengal tomorrow.”

He further said, “Tomorrow’s match will be very difficult, and also will be a very entertaining match, the home crowd will witness one of the best I-league matches tomorrow, the team will play like do or die for the sake of the people of Manipur.”

On the other hand, Khalid Jamil, East Bengal coach mentioned that Neroca FC is also one of the good sides of the league but the table-toppers will do their best as the team and they’ll approach the game as a do or die one.

He stated, “We don’t think much about our previous matches, we don’t want to recall what happened in our last game. Our sole focus is nothing but tomorrow’s Neroca FC match.”

“This match is very crucial, Neroca FC are also in very good form. Their foreign players are playing some really good football, but we have our own strategy in place to overcome Neroca FC.”