Shillong Lajong FC will host Bharat FC in a crucial I-League encounter at the J.N.Stadium, Shillong on 17th May, 2015 at 4:30 PM IST. The Reds will entertain the 2nd direct I-League entrants in consecutive matches having drawn against champion side Bengaluru FC in their last match.
Lajong showed good spirit in their win against Dempo FC finding the net three times and following it up with a 1-1 draw against title contenders Bengaluru FC. This gives Lajong coach Thangboi Singto with the much needed confidence going into the Bharat FC match. Speaking at a pre-match press conference Thangboi said, “The situation we are in, we have to get three points and we can’t lose matches. In the last match against Bengaluru FC, 1st half was disappointing but we came back strongly in the 2nd half. Tomorrow is a very tough match for us but if we bring the momentum from the 2nd half against Bengaluru FC it will be good for us. We’ve always started sluggishly in the 1st half but we should try and improve on the 1st half performance and go on from there”.
Stuart Watkiss, plying his trade as an I-League coach for the first time in his career would have been upbeat coming into this match having won the match against the number one side, Mohun Bagan and the crucial Pune derby in the following match. However the coach added, “To be honest there is no drastic improvement in our performance but it’s the fact that we’ve just scored a couple goals. That was our problem all season, our lack of goals.”
The two teams met in Pune earlier in the season but both sides came out of the game sharing the spoils. The Bharat FC coach felt his team were “fortunate” to come away with a draw and re emphasised on Lajong’s attacking threat. He also said, “We have to be better without the ball tomorrow against Shillong, they are as good as anybody going forward in the league. They’re good players who can score goals against anybody in the league. It’s still a big ask for my team but the lads are confident and everybody at Bharat FC is looking forward to the game”
Lajong have struggled with injuries at the back with three of their back four sidelined with injuries. Aiborlang Khongjee and Robing Gurung are out of the encounter against Bharat FC yet again having missed three consecutive games but have been blessed by the induction of Khelemba Singh at the heart of their defence. Thangboi Singto was all praise for him, “Khelemba came in at the right time and his combination with Minchol has been good for the team. He is a calm composed player and we need those kind of players there. Big credit to the back line but we have to keep that consistency in every department in the field.”
Bharat FC would be missing 5 key players against The Reds tomorrow with Lester Fernandez, Mehrajuddin Wadoo , Adil Khan and Jayashelan Prasad who have all had operations lately and defender Tomba Singh will also miss the match with an injury.
Shillong Lajong FC still stuck in the relegation battle will look to help their cause with a win against the “less pressured” Bharat FC who will go into the game tomorrow with nothing to lose. The Reds are 8th in the table with 17 points from 16 games sitting 4 points above the relegation zone occupied by Sporting Club de Goa who are yet to play against the Shillong side.