Aizawl FC head coach Paulo Meneses was critical of Mizoram Football Association's treatment of his players during the Mizoram Premier League (MPL) ahead of their I-League match against Churchill Brothers on Wednesday.
The blame was put forward when the coach was asked for an update on the fitness of Romanian midfielder Andre Ionescu.
"Andre could not train in the last 2-3 weeks due to injury in MPL. I tried to complain and defend our players in MPL. I tried to advise the Mizoram FA and the referees, to protect our players. Aizawl FC represents Mizoram. I advised many times but nobody cares and we don't have our best players," accused the coach of the defending I-League champions.
When asked about their upcoming match against Churchill Brothers, the coach said he up for the fight.
"Tomorrow I expect a very good game and I expect to win three points. We will try to fight every opponent. I always say the same thing. We will try to fight them and win three points game by game."
"We got one point in Kolkata against East Bengal. Tomorrow is an important game for us and I hope to get three points."
Aizawl had undergone a squad overhaul over the summer but Meneses is confident about his side's title defence.
"We will fight to defend our title. We lost 6-8 players but we got to mix a lot of players and good foreigners. I think we have a competitive team and we will fight to defend the title," affirmed the Portuguese coach, who also gave an update on the fitness of Mama.
"Mama started to train again with us this week on Monday. He has not recovered fully, he needs a few days more to be fit.
Things haven't clicked into life for Goa-based side Churchill Brothers and after consecutive defeats in their first two games of the season, coach Alfred Fernandes is hoping for a turning point.
"We have been working hard but the results are not going our way. Hopefully, tomorrow's match can be the turning point. The last match was a big let down for us. We committed a lot of mistakes against a team like Mohun Bagan. That cost us dearly. Tomorrow will be a new day."
Fernandes also said that his opponents, being the defending champions, will feel the pressure when both sides take the field.
"Aizawl played lovely football and became champions. This year we are coming up against champions and pressure will be more on the champion side."