Shillong Lajong FC will begin their season at home welcoming Mumbai FC as they face off in the first round encounter of the Hero I-League on the 10th January 2016 at 4:30PM at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong.
A bright and fresh start to the new I-League season promises to be an important encounter for both the sides. Shillong Lajong have been very active in their transfer dealings and have brought in quality experienced players and promising youth players through their prestigious academy. The average age of the players including the foreigners in the Squad is 22 years only.
Japanese defender Yusuke Yamagata and Brazilian forward Fabio Pena Henrique are both well experienced having plied their trades in Japan, Laos, Cambodia and Brazil. Much to the added experience Yusuke will add a lot of steel to the defense after the departure of former Lajong captain Minchol Son.
Fabio Pena is a perfect addition given his chemistry upfront with the already established Uilliams Souza Silva. Lajong coach Thangboi Singto had commented earlier that “they have been looking good together in training”. The Shillong side has also managed to retain box to box playmaker Penn Orji who was instrumental in their campaign last season. Adding to the signings, 4 youth players have been elevated from the youth system and the Lajong coach believes “these young players have matured well”.
Mumbai FC have themselves been impressive in their signings having brought in stellar players to their ranks as well. Eric Brown and Arata Azumi(loan from Atletico de Kolkatta) will provide much needed impetus but the heads will really be on Minchol Son as he returns to face his old club in this match. The departing Josimar has also been replaced by the new Japanese striker Ryuki Kozawa.
Speaking at a pre match press conference here Lajong head coach Thangboi Singto said, “We are looking forward to the match. It will be a new challenge, a new beginning and we do not know exactly how it will go since we have some new players but we expect to start well and do well.” The coach also mentioned of the club’s ambitions and believes he has a “good blend of experience and legs to push the team forward”. He added, “Every club and management want to be champions but we must have realistic goals and with the tight schedule we are going to have a difficult time. We want to be champions but to finish top 3 will be great” while being asked on his target for the new Hero I-League season.
Going into the match the home side will be without the experienced Boithang Haokip and midfielder Zodingliana. Thangboi SIngto also revealed that Japanese defender Yusuke Yamagata “has not received his clearance” and so will not be available for the match as well.
Mumbai FC head coach Khalid Jamil on the other has expressed his content on the availability of all his players. “We just need a good start and by a good start I mean we must get a win from here but it is going to be difficult. Thangboi has been doing a wonderful job here for the past 4 years and it is very difficult to beat him because he knows how to play against us. So tomorrow is going to be tough for us especially playing in this stadium but we shall enjoy the game” said the longest serving I-League manager.
Judging from previous encounters between the two sides, tomorrow’s match promises to be an exciting spectacle and one in which both teams will be looking for a winning start to the campaign.