I-League: Shillong Lajong FC face Sporting Clube de Goa in relegation battle
Shillong Lajong FC will host Goan side Sporting Clube de Goa in an I-League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong at 4:30pm tomorrow. The match could turn out to be a very crucial encounter given the fact that both teams are still in the relegation tussle.
Shillong Lajong FC still mathematically are in threat of relegation but have done themselves a huge favour in their recent victories. The home side are unbeaten in their last three home games including a 3-0 drubbing over Dempo SC, a comprehensive 1-1 draw against champions Bengaluru FC and an attacking display of sheer quality in their most recent 3-1 victory over direct entrants Bharat FC.
Cornell Glen who has netted 13 goals all season was at his best against the I-League debutants from Pune, with a brilliant second half hat-trick that gave his side the much-needed breathing space from other relegation battlers.
Glen is currently the second highest I-League goalscorer with 13 goals in 16 appearances, just three goals shy of top scorer Ranty Martins Soleye.
The visiting Goan side though have made similar improvements given their poor start to the season that saw them at the bottom of the table for most parts of the campaign. After the 1-3 defeat at Bengaluru FC in late-March, Mathew D'Costa's side have notched up a six-game unbeaten streak with impressive wins against Bharat FC and title contenders Mohun Bagan.
Mathew speaking at a pre-match press conference said, "Every match is important and tomorrow is much more important. What we have done in the past is history now. We are more focused on tomorrow's game."
Consistency though is Thangboi Singto's main concern going into the match against the six-game unbeaten Sporting Goa side. Three unbeaten matches would mean some consistency but the Lajong coach is looking for more, "We have to look to tomorrow because the way Sporting has been playing recently and because Odafa has come back strongly, it's going to be difficult for us.
Apart from that they have an overall good team. As stated before we have to perform consistently at the best of our abilities and if we do that we will have a good game tomorrow."
The visiting side will be without defenders Chinta Rao and Sandesh Jhingan but the calming personality of Portuguese defender Miguel Garcia would not give Mathew D'Costa much of a problem. The Reds are also missing defensive reinforcements as club captain Aibor Khongjee is still out, Pritam Kumar is ruled out for the season, Seimenlen Doungel is doubtful for tomorrow's match but full-back Robin Gurung who was on the bench in their last game against Bharat FC might get a start in tomorrow's match.
Lajong are sitting pretty in sixth position with 20 points from 17 games, while Sporting Clube de Goa have 17 points from as many games. A win for The Reds would ensure safety and also strengthen their position in the I-League standings.