The Reds from the North East will play their last away game of the Hero I-League this Season when they lock horns against I-League Newbies, Kalyani Bharat FC on the 19th of April, at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune at 7pm.
Shillong Lajong FC have certainly up their ante and currently boasts of not having lost a single match post the International Break. Thangboi Singto himself acknowledges the fact that the team had their real pre-season during the break which helped in building a stronger team for the second leg action of the I-League.
However, the major drawback at the moment is injuries hitting the players during this very crucial period of the I-League. Captain Aibor Khongjee had to be replaced during the Shillong Derby and he is nursing his injury in Shillong at the moment. Young Midfielder Joseph Lalfakzuala was also knocked down during the Mohun Bagan encounter in Kolkata and was also left out in the Shillong Derby. Another player missing from the squad is Semilen Doungel as the forward was booked for a double yellow in the Shillong Derby and hence not eligible for the upcoming match against Bharat FC.
Free Kick Specialist Boithang Haokip who missed the action against Mohun Bagan and Wahingdoh, due to injury will look to make his return in tomorrow’s match although the final call on his fitness will be taken by the Team Doctors tomorrow.
In this season of the I-League, Youngsters from the Lajong Academy have certainly proved their worth, showed maturity and turned out to be immensely “Gutsy” taking on the big guns in the League. Zodingliana, Jacob, Joseph, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Lalrammuana, Rupert Nongrum and Sandeep Singh to name a few, are some of the gifted talents hailing from the Academy Ranks.
Midfielder Zodingliana and Centre Back Nim Dorjee Tamang have also netted a piece each against Mumbai FC (MFC 0 – 6 SLFC) and Royal Wahingdoh FC (RWFC 1 – 1 SLFC) respectively.
Thangboi Singto’s troops are heading in tomorrow’s clash after playing out a 1-1 draw against Wahingdoh in what was a “Heartbreaking” Shillong Derby for all the Lajong Faithfuls who have been “True Loyal Supporters” and “Die Hard Fans” of the Club since their birth into the I-League in 2009; Lajong being the sole representative of North East Football in the National League until the coming of another local club Rangdajied United in the I-League 2013-14 Season which was followed by Wahingdoh this season. Kim Yong scored the last minute equaliser during injury time and ensured his team mates and Santosh Kashyap went home with a smiling point in the derby.
The Lajong Media caught up with Lajong’s Head Coach Thangboi Singto who is also the only Coach from the North East to coach in the I-League, on the eve of the match. He shared his insights on the crucial away tie and strongly feels that it will not be an easy match for his side.
He said, “Though it will be a tough game against Bharat FC, we need to keep our away game consistency for 90 + Minutes to get points.
Belief, Confidence, Teamwork, Strong and Winning Mentality and Enjoying the Game with 100 % commitment is what will give us good results. We need to have all these.”
“Bharat FC is an experienced and good team in set pieces. We need to perform as a unit”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, Bharat FC face Lajong for the first time this season and will look to put up a big fight in order to better their own position in the I-League standings.
Post the International break, the new league entrants have had a decent run with two draws and two losses and are currently in the 10th position with 11 points.
The most recent match the Lions played was against Title Contenders, the Mighty Mohun Bagan and lost 2-0. Sony Norde scored a brace to give his side the full confidence in bringing them close to winning the League.
Bharat FC have been not been impressive upfront and scored the least number of goals in the League.
Stuart Watkiss will bank his hopes on Kris Bright who will be leading the attack upfront followed by Romauld Boco and Subhash Singh who will also be assisting in the front line, in the wake to shake their opponents net.
At the back, Bharat FC have a good set of defenders, with two former Indian Internationals Syed Rahim Nabi and Gouramangi Singh including English Defender Bobby Hassell and Kuwaiti Omar Jarun, will be on “high alert” and thwart every possible effort by their opponents on goal.
Shillong Lajong FC on the other hand will look to deliver a powerful performance this Sunday as three points will be out for grabs at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune. The Reds will also be hoping for Luck to favour them and return home in “Good Spirits” and “Morale” to play their remaining 7 home matches of the Hero I-League 2015 Season.