I-League 2017-18: Luis Norton de Matos: Indian Arrows not obliged to win

The Portuguese believes his young Arrows side 'have a special place in the heart of the NEROCA FC supporters' in Manipur...

The All India Football Federation (AIFF)'s development side, the Indian Arrows travel to Manipur, the state which has produced eight of its current squad member to play NEROCA FC in their sixth I-League 2017-18 game on Friday.

Invariably, head coach Luis Norton de Matos was in an upbeat mood. He said, "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."

Indian Arrows have seven points in their kitty and have only registered two wins so far this season. However, results are the primary determinant of Matos' philosophy, he reiterated. " 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 the 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," he said.

Their opponents, the newly-promoted NEROCA FC have surprised one and all as they are third on the table. "NERCOA FC are more physical than for example Minerva Punjab FC, so we have to adapt. NEROCA FC have two-three 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, that is most important", the former SL Benfica 'B' man expressed.

Lastly, he did mention there will be " There will be five to six (Manipur-born) on the field (from his team) for sure".

Matos' NEROCA FC counterpart Gift Raikhan revealed the bare minimum on the eve of the game. "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.