The Wellington Phoenix kick off their sub-continent tour on Friday against URO United Sikkim FC.
The Wellington Phoenix kick off their sub-continent tour on Friday in one of the hotbeds of Indian football against URO United Sikkim FC.
The match will be played at Impahl-s Khuman Lampak Main Stadium which was built in 1999 for the Indian National Games and has an official capacity of 25,000, though 32,000 fans attended a recent game thanks to the step seating.
Manipur is a hotbed of football that has produced many international players with seven of the current national team hailing from the state.
The match will be the first between teams from the Indian League and Hyundai A-League and will be the state-s highest profile footballing encounter.
United Sikkim FC is one of India-s newest clubs, and it made an immediate impact by winning the national league second division only 14 months after being formed.
Bhaichung Bhutia, who retired from the Indian national team after a friendly versus Bayern Munich in January, founded the club and is now the CEO but still playing at 36.
Formerly a striker, Bhuta has now reverted to centreback and this is expected to be his last season as a player.
During his career Bhuta travelled the world and is determined to use that experience to make United the most professional club in India.
Other players likely to make their presence felt against the Phoenix are
national team defender Anwar Ali and Costa Rican international Michael Rodriguez who played in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The rest of the United team consists of a young squad aged between 19 and 25.
Coaching United is Belgian Phillipe De Ridder who has been in India for five years and led them to the I-League second division title last season.