New Delhi, Mar 3: Shillong Lajong FC is to take on the 2017 I-League Champions Aizawl FC on Monday at their home ground, the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizwal.
Lajong, after being the wooden spooner for almost the entirety of the 12th Hero I-League season with 11 points in 18 matches, will be looking to avoid relegation in the prestigious league.
The North-East derby kicks off at 2 pm and the visitors will be looking to win this one and the next, to avoid the last two relegation spots, provided some other results in the league go their way.
The home side Aizawl are at the eighth spot with 18 points from as many games and with two wins in their last four games look safe for a mid-table finish.
They have picked themselves up and dished out some solid performances after the arrival of their new coach Stanley Rosario in the latter stages of the league.
Two players in particular, Liberian Ansumanah Kromah and local talent Mapuia, have been the pick of their players and duo’s goals have helped the proud former champions form a more inglorious finish given a ragged campaign for most of the initial stages.
At the match-day eve press conference, coach Stanley Rozario said, "I am happy that I'm out of relegation. That is more important and so I came here and helped the team. We moved the team from bottom to up and qualified for Super Cup. Shillong Lajong is in the relegation zone and they will come up strong because they want points.
Tomorrow's match is very important for us as it is going to be a North-Eastern derby. I am confident about my boys. They will be taking the three points tomorrow."
His counterpart Alison Khasyntiew of Shillong seemed to be well aware of the herculean task at hand but was full of hope during the presser, he said, "We have two games left in this league, one with Aizawl tomorrow and next game is home game with Mohun Bagan and if we win both these matches then we might be out of relegation.
We have to work very hard tomorrow against Aizawl. Hopefully, we will get the three points. Aizawl has been doing good. Last game they did well. Tomorrow it will be a difficult match for us and hoping for three points. In the home game we defeated Aizawl so I hope tomorrow we will be able to defeat them."
The ‘home-game’ he referred to was the first-leg fixture between the two-sides back in October last year, where his young and talented side bereft of any foreigners or big name players had given the best display of their attacking potential in a 2-1 victory. A Mahesh Naorem Singh left-footed screamer had announced the youngster on the national stage on that occasion. (UNI)