I-League: Troubled Minerva, Shillong aim for resurrection

With just a win apiece, seventh-placed Minerva Punjab and eleventh-placed Shillong Lajong are desperate for a win to potentially turn around their respective campaigns.

Minerva Punjab has scored only two goals in four fixtures, with defender Lancine Toure scoring both.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

I-League champion Minerva Punjab FC will face Shillong Lajong in its third consecutive away fixture in the I-league at the JLN Nehru Stadium Friday.

Placed seventh and eleventh on the table, Minerva and Shillong are desperate for a win to resurrect their season, with Chennai City FC setting the pace at the top of the table with 13 points from a possible 15.

Central defender Lancine Toure has scored both the team's goals in four fixtures so far and the onus is on the forwards A. K. Kouame and Donatus Edafe to start firing. The defence has been compact so far, conceding only thrice in four fixtures.

Shillong, on the other hand, has suffered four defeats on the trot in five matches, with its defence being a particular area of concern.

Its only win so far came at home in the first match against Aizawl last month, while it also has the advantage of being used to playing on the artificial pitch at the JLN Stadium.

Speaking on the eve of the match, Shillong coach Alison Kharsyntiew said, “I am happy with the boys’ performances. It's just the mistakes here and there including some silly mistakes. Tomorrow will be a different game. We just have to move the ball fast, we can't hold the ball for too much. We want to promote these young players. If they can play now, they will be confident next season. I believe in the young players.”

Shillong hasn't had as much of a problem in the attacking third, with youngsters like Sheen, Rakesh Pradhan, Mahesh Singh, Samuel Lyngdoh, captain Lalmuanpuia providing creativity and imagination to have Shillong as the joint-third-highest scoring team in the division.

Minerva's Irish coach Paul Munster said, “We have come up with a completely new team and we know that we have to start from scratch. Obviously, it's not good enough. Now, we have to win each game. We had two good training sessions, we have a good team bonding and that's the most important thing. Our players’ style is different. The worst thing will be if we don't have any chance to score. The strikers need the confidence and score goals. We have to keep working hard.”

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