A few months back, NEROCA FC were struggling to make both ends meet. They were facing an uncertain future and was on the verge of shut down.
But Arun Thangjam, President of NEROCA, and Manimohan Moirangthem, Secretary of NEROCA, did not throw in the towel. They were rewarded for their perseverance when Living 3D, a Hong Kong-based firm, agreed to sponsor the club for the upcoming season, as earlier revealed by Goal.
After securing a sponsorship the club has already completed the signing of six overseas players, Goal can confirm. The Orange Brigade have signed two strikers, Sekle Yawo Zico (27, Togo) and Ousmane Diawara (21, Mali), a central midfielder in Gaty Kouami (23, Togo/Congo) and a winger in Boubacar Diarra (26, Mali). At the back, they will have Taryk Sampson (22, Trinidad and Tobago) marshalling the defence whereas his compatriot Marvin Devon Phillip will be under the sticks.
Zico has plied his trade in various clubs in Togo, Rwanda, Gabon and has also appeared for the Togo U20 side. He has also won the Cup of Togo and Independence Cup of Togo. Diawara after starting his career in Mali and moved to Sweden where he played for IFK Stocksund, a Division 2 club.
Midfielder Kouami is known for his high work-rate and Raikhan will be depending on him to control things at the centre of the park. He is a typical box-to-box midfielder and has played for the Congo senior national team.
But the marquee player for NEROCA would be Phillip who has been a regular for the Trinidadian senior team. He has made 75 international appearances and has played in world cup qualifiers and FIFA tournaments like the Gold Cup. He was with the gloves when Trinidad beat Iran 2-0 in a friendly in Spain in September 2018.
After spending a season away from Manipur, Raikhan has returned home to once again lead NEROCA. Under his guidance, the club won I-League second division and qualified for top tier football. The Imphal-based club started grabbing headlines in their very first season in I-League as they finished runners-up in I-League.
"We are pretty confident to have a successful season with Raikhan at the helm of affairs. He has been successful with the club before and there is no reason that he cannot do it once again. We have got six foreign players of his choice and hopefully, they will deliver in I-League," told Manimohan to Goal.
NEROCA have already started practicing for I-League and the foreign contingent will join the squad in early October.