Zohmingliana Ralte alias Zotea returned to Aizawl FC after spending much of his playing career with clubs like Lajong, Pune FC and DSK Shivajians. However, little did he know that upon his comeback, he along with his team would be on the brink of creating history in Indian club football. On Saturday, Ralte delivered a performance which is only made up of dreams as he scored the winning goal and led his side to a 1-0 triumph against the mighty Mohun Bagan.
Speaking exclusively to the indianexpress.com, man of the match from last weekend’s game, Zohmingliana Ralte, spoke about the importance of his goal, the strengths of Aizawl FC and where the road lies ahead for his side.
“This header was the important goal of my life. People have no idea how much I-league success means to us. There are stories being written but this emotion cannot be described in words. We put in so much of effort and to reap rewards is a really good feeling.” Adding that he along with his team have an inherent fighting spirit, Zotea said, “This is like a fairytale but it is not over yet we still have one more step to climb. Supporters are celebrating but we are still our keep our heads straight and concentrating on the crucial next match.”
The north-eastern club now travels to the final weekend of India’s national football league needing just a point against regional rivals, Lajong of Shillong.
Speaking about the team’s mentality and style of play Ralte, “Keeping concentrations level all the time is crucial. There was pressure against Mohun Bagan and as a defender, I could feel it. But I am mentally strong and my team has a strong positive attitude this is what has kept us going through the season.”
“Our coach has prepared us well and we are practising a style of play. We do not have tall players in our team so we try to emulate the ‘tiki-taka’ style of soccer. Aizawl FC is quick, attack-minded and plays beautiful football. That is what we try to do as this our strong point (playing balls along the ground).”
Meanwhile, Hon. Secretary, of Mizoram Football Association, Lalnghinglova Hmar, expressed satisfaction over the performance of the team and Ralte.
Speaking about the rise of football in Mizoram the secretary said, “This has been a great journey for Aizwal FC. Mizoram was nowhere to be seen earlier and we never thought beyond the borders. But now we are setting the standard to follow. For the last few years, Mizoram football has been on the rise and local players are carving out their own identity on the national level.”
Talking about the factors that brought about this change, Hmar revealed, “Earlier there were not so many opportunities but now various avenues have opened up. In 2012 we started the Mizoram Premier League and that was the game changer as it brought players from Mizoram to play together in one competition. Younger players are also getting more exposure when they get to train in various academies.”
“The results are now for everyone to see. In 2014 we won the Santosh trophy and then the next year we qualified for the semi-finals and now this season with Aizawl FC we are at the cusp of history. Let’s see where this ends”, said Hmar as he signed off.