I-League: Pride at stake for Lajong against Mariners

Shillong Lajong faces relegation while Mohun Bagan can achieve a fifth-place finish.

Shillong Lajong players train ahead of the Mohun Bagan fixture on Friday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Shillong Lajong hosts Mohun Bagan at the JLN stadium in Shillong on Friday in their final games of a disappointing I-League campaign. While Shillong faces relegation, Bagan could at best achieve a fifth-place finish.

Host Shillong, which decided to go with a team comprising its young academy players without any foreign recruit, has lost 14 of its 19 games having conceded a whopping 53 goals in a forgettable campaign.

The visitor has also suffered seven losses in 19 games and conceded more goals than it has scored. Even a change of coach midway through the season could not spark a change in fortunes for the Green and Maroons.

Bagan won the first-leg encounter between the two sides back in December through goals from Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki and Ugandan forward Henry Kisseka, both of whom will, however, not be part of the squad on Friday.

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Bagan coach Khalid Jamil gave an insight into the mood in the camp, saying, “I am satisfied I have given everyone a chance to play. It is the last match but after this, we have Super Cup so we are preparing for it."

"Lajong's Indian players have played very well but they lacked experience. I haven't made any change. I just wanted to give every player a chance. We are trying to give our best and can't take it lightly. It's a difficult match for us tomorrow," he added.

The host has nothing to lose after a humbling campaign. Coach Alison Kharsymtiew preferred to look at the positives during the pre-game presser. “It was a big challenge for the boys this season, and for me, as a coach to guide them and mentor them and encourage them because they are the future of Indian football," he said.

"There will be a few changes in this squad and as I said, we are going to play and try to win and perform well tomorrow, even though we are relegated."

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