From a Correspondent
Shillong, April 22: Shillong Lajong are away from home for the last time in the Hero I-League 2016-17 season and the team is hoping to continue their unbeaten run in away matches when they take on relegation threatened Mumbai FC on Sunday, at the Cooperage Ground in Mumbai.
Thangboi Singto’s team are currently on a five-match unbeaten streak in away games this season, having won 3 and drawn 2 matches on the road since February 15.
The squad, comprising a bunch of U-22 players from the academy with the inclusion of three foreigners, have had a decent run in the current season of the I-League, not just at home but away as well.
The faith that the Club has placed in these youngsters over the years has truly paid off with Lajong sitting in fifth position in the standings.
Now into their seventh season in the I-League, 2016-17 is Lajong’s best so far and the boys have produced top notch performances against big teams.
They have played 16 matches in all thus far and have won seven, drawn three and lost six.
This puts the team level on 24 points with Bengaluru FC, but the latter are ahead in fourth place due to the head-to-head factor.
In the first leg against Mumbai, Shillong Lajong came out the victors at home by three goals to one. Aser Dipanda Dicka scored a brace and Chinglensa Singh scored one while Karan Sawhney netted a consolation goal for Mumbai.
When asked Shillong Lajong’s head coach on playing under pressure, Singto said, “The pressure is always there for all teams. The teams that show real character under pressure will do well in the end. Mumbai FC has the players with that character.”
“Mumbai FC will go all out for a win. So we need to be patient and stay strong defensively and hopefully score on the counters. We have to continue playing as we have played so far but with more spirit and enthusiasm”, he added.
Chinglensa Singh who scored the third goal for Lajong against Mumbai FC at home said, “We are looking forward to end the season on a high. We have six points to play for against two difficult teams, one is fighting for survival and the other is fighting for the title. So it’s going to be interesting and our focus will be to get maximum points from both outings.”
Mumbai FC have maged only two wins this season, while drawing six and losing eight times. To try and rescue their campaign, Mumbai hired Oscar Bruzon during the intertiol break but the club are still having a hard time getting out of the drop zone. The Maharashtra team are level on 12 points with new club Minerva Punjab FC.
Sunday’s fixture is thus a crucial one for Mumbai as they desperately need a win in their remaining two games in order to survive in the I-League.
Interestingly, Mumbai FC have drawn their past five home matches with the same score line, 0-0. They have maged to win just one game at home this season, against DSK Shivajians on January 8.
It has been a disappointing campaign for the Mumbaikars, whose last victory was on January 15 in an away match against Churchill Brothers in Goa, but the Oscar Bruzon-led side will look to make full use of home advantage this coming Sunday when they host Shillong Lajong.
Meanwhile, Lajong have their own hopes and aspirations of ending the league on a high note and hence, a win is a must for Thangboi Singto’s side. Backed up by Lajong’s fans in Mumbai, they will be aiming to deliver a high octane performance on Sunday at the Cooperage Ground.