After a phenomenal first home game in which their first points of the Hero I-League 2016-17 season were earned, Shillong Lajong FC will take on Mumbai FC on 28th January at the JN Stadium at 4:30pm.
Buoyed on by the Lajong Faithfuls, the Men in Red took down Minerva Punjab FC 2-1 last week and hope to receive even more support in the club’s fortress as they look to carry their winning momentum forward.
Lajong’s attacking form of play paid off last Saturday when they went ahead thanks to goals from Rupert Nongrum and Aser Dipanda Dicka. The former’s 17th minute strike was, incidentally, his first in the I-League.
However, a goal was conceded to Minerva Punjab late in the match and coach Thangboi Singto was not altogether happy with that.
“Our first half was very good, but we lost our way a little in the second half and that is somewhat worrying because we have to play well from start to finish against good teams,” the gaffer said at a pre-match press conference today.
The Reds were unable to get the better of Mumbai FC last season, having played out a goalless draw in Shillong and losing 2-1 away, so Singto knows that the visitors, led by the experienced coach Santosh Kashyap, are going to put up a good showing.
“Tomorrow will be very tough. The good thing is that we will be playing at home,” Singto stated, but he added that Romanian defender Dan Ignat and midfielder Zodingliana are still unfit to play.
Asked about the potential line-up for Saturday’s game, he opined, “No coach wants to change a winning combination, but we will have to consider the players and put the best possible line-up that day.”
Shillong Lajong are currently in 7th position with 3 points, behind 5th placed Mumbai, who have 6 points.
Going into this game, Kashyap will not have the services of defender Lalchawnkima and midfielder Pratesh Shirodkar.
Mumbai started the season on a positive note, beating Shivajians at home 1-0 before travelling to Churchill Brothers and winning 2-1 there. However, their form has turned since then and they have suffered two defeats – first being drubbed 3-0 away at Bengaluru FC before losing at their home ground to Aizawl FC 1-0.
“No team can win or lose every match,” Kashyap said at the pre-match conference. “Lajong are on an upwards momentum, while we are slightly downwards. But I believe it will be an exciting match as both teams play attacking football,” he added.
Kashyap also said that he believes Shillong to be the toughest away venues for any I-League side, as the home team have the weather and crowd support on their side.
Meanwhile, young Lajong midfielder Isaac Vanmalsawma has taken his coach’s words about playing quality football for the full 90 minutes to heart when he told the assembled media, “From the first minute to the last we’ll be fighting to not allow the away team get points from Shillong.”