I-League 2017: Aizawl FC fans put Mohun Bagan under pressure as potential title-decider draws closer

Sporting News

The drums have started rolling already in the easternmost footballing hotbed of the 2017 I-League as Mohun Bagan arrived in Aizawl on Thursday and began their preparations straight away.

Both the teams are locked on 33 points and the penultimate gameday of the season can end up being the title-decider if the visitors snatch a win at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Mohun Bagan, who lost an AFC Cup match to Maziya S&RC the previous night, mostly with fringe players, had to face the wrath of jeers and intimidating drum beats of the home fans when they trained at 5 pm, few hours after a morning flight to reach the northeastern city.

Vociferous as ever, the Red Army's welcome ruminated of Turkish club Galatasaray's fans approach for visiting European teams - who would vow to unsettle the toughest of oppositions through their frightening antics.

The chants and slogan though were not in any way anti-social but the very fact that a group of fans stormed into the Bagan practice would have sent a shiver down some of the players' spine.

Aizawl FC Fans 2017
Aizawl FC Fans 2017

The match in itself has been the talk of the town for the better part of last week. Tickets went on sale on Saturday morning and by Tuesday 10 AM, the counters had to shut shop with a 'sold out' placard hanging on the front.

In some welcome news to the ones who could not procure tickets for the game, the club has decided to sell a further couple of hundred tickets priced at ₹ 30 - without a seating where spectators would crumble near the fencing area amidst tight security, adjacent to the team dugouts.

It is expected to be the highest attended football match ever in Mizoram. Regulars at the ground expect around 12,000 people to attend - a figure which will easily surpass the recent home match against Bengaluru FC, where Aizawl's crowd support was instrumental in holding the current holders 1-1.

A comeback journey nonetheless, no odds predicted Aizawl FC to challenge for the title after being reinstated from relegation last season but the football-crazy state will want to make the match the memorable of their lives.

Mr. David Zohmangaiha, one of the board of directors at Aizawl FC, who is quite the sportsperson himself - the first Mizo to conquer Mount Everest assured to enhance the Red Army support come Saturday.

Aizawl FC Fans 2017
Aizawl FC Fans 2017

"We will hand each and every supporter with a red flag and the Red Army will have many chants that they will sing on that day," he promised. It comes as no surprise that fan group will print the flag covering all the expenses by themselves.

On the other hand, Mohun Bagan fans will have the 100-seater south-western stand all to themselves. Expect it to be filled to the brimmed with most Mariners making the trip on Saturday morning's early morning flight out of Kolkata itself.

Security has been beefed up like never before at Mualpui and Zarkawt, the location of the stadium and Bagan's team hotel. The Chief Minister and Governor of Mizoram apart, All India Football Federation (AIFF) President has been earmarked to be in attendance as well.

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