From Our Reporter
SHILLONG, April 21: “Football is nothing without fans, and we couldn't agree with this saying more as the Lajong faithfuls are truly special to us that words cannot express.
“It has been a roller coaster journey for a young club from Meghalaya who created history by becoming the first team from the North East Region to qualify for the prestigious I-League, the top tier of Indian Football in the year 2009.
“There have been clubs from Shillong and Sikkim who tried their luck in the league and had an incredible season, displayed good quality football but they have come and gone. The harsh reality of the league is the battle to survive and sustain itself is not easy and we want you to know that!
“We are playing our sixth season of the I-League this year and unfortutely had to face another bumpy ride. All we wanted was to give our fans a good football season this year and we thought we had things going our way.
“We have always believed in our youth system and have given many opportunities to our young talent to take centre stage. And this season like the previous one, we enrolled more players from the Academy to be part of the first team with the addition of a few experienced Indian players including the foreigners.
“With the fil game of the season approaching, it will most probably be the most crucial game in the history of the club. Alongside Lajong, Aizawl FC, Salgaocar and Mumbai FC also are still in the danger zone for relegation.
In a press conference held today in Shillong, Habamutlang Lyngdoh, General Mager of Shillong Lajong FC, stated the above. He further said, “The players and coaches understand how important the match on Sunday will be and thus they will work very hard in training in the next few days and give their best to win against East Bengal and hope to remain in the I-League.”
“The club aim to remain in the I-League and eble the football lovers of Shillong to witness I-League matches every season. Surviving in the I-League would mean that the club can still provide a platform to footballers from the North East to show case their talent on the tiol stage. Since many Khasi players have been given a chance to start at Lajong to become well known footballers across the country, Lajong can still help young local talents to become the next Aiborlang Khongjee or Eugeneson Lyngdoh or Rocus Lamare or Marlangki Suting”, added Lyngdoh.
In an appeal to the football lovers in Shillong, he further said, “We would really appreciate if the football fans could please come and support the team on Sunday and become the 12th man by providing the motivation to the players who represent this club and this region.”
Lajong have been the torch bearers of football in the North East and has been competing and representing the region in the I-league for 6 years. The General Mager also said, “The fans have been the pillars of this club every season. We thank the fans who have given their support throughout the years and without them we would not be where we are now. We now urge the fans to come and help the team secure our survival on Sunday as we strive to strengthen this Club to compete against the bigger clubs in the Country every year.”
Club captain Aiborlang Khonjee was also present in the press conference expressed his disappointment over not being part of the last match after suffering an injury last month. He said,“I believe in the team and that we will win on Sunday. As a player and Captain of this club, I strongly urge the fans to come and support the team on Sunday. The fans make a lot of difference in the match so we need all the support we can get.”
Jeremy Wahlang who was a former Lajong player, a coach and is now a senior advisor of the club said, “The club has been very unlucky this year as they were not able to score goals. Just like the fans, we are also frustrated with the results but considering we have so many young players in our squad, we did not perform so bad this season.”
“The club is focused on developing the youth and bringing out the best in them in order to compete with the big clubs. We are confident in the years to come that we will be getting better results with luck too on our side. This Sunday is a do or die situation and we need all the support from the people of Meghalaya.”
Football is the number one sport in the State as well as in the entire North East region. Certainly, it will be a big disappointment if the state was to lose out on a spot in the top division of Indian Football, the I-league, where a lot of players from Shillong and the rest of the North East get a chance to show case their talent and bring pride to the region.
We at Lajong would like to see all our faithfuls throng together to the JN Stadium for the last home game of the season on Sunday at 7pm, in what will be the penultimate test and the most decisive game of the season.