I-League 2018-19: Shillong Lajong and East Bengal to battle for winning run

Lajong had kick-started its campaign on a winning note against Aizawl FC on Sunday and East Bengal too is coming into this match after a win over Neroca FC.

East Bengal (above), in its last four visits to Shillong, has managed to win only once. (File Photo)   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Host Shillong Lajong FC will yet again bank on its young brigade to deliver the goods when it takes on East Bengal FC in an I-League match, here, on Wednesday.

Lajong had kick-started its campaign on a winning note against Aizawl FC on Sunday and East Bengal too is coming into this match after a win over Neroca FC.

The Lajong youngsters delivered an exceptional performance in their opening game, playing their hearts out. Mahesh Singh scored a brace, ensuring three points.

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East Bengal has roped in Spanish coach, Alejandro Menendez Garcia for the 2018-19 season, along with Costa Rican defender Johnny Acosta and the team had a good pre-season in Malaysia, where they played a few games.

The last time Shillong Lajong and East Bengal faced each other was in March this year and match had ended in a 2-2 draw in Shillong.

“The game against East Bengal is always a tough fixture, especially this season, as they have some experienced players in every department. We must put in a lot of efforts and lot of quality to win it,” Lajong head coach Alison Kharsyntiew said.

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"The game against Aizawl gave the boys a lot of confidence, but Thursday’s game will be a different match as it will be a tough game mentally and we have to work hard as a team to beat them,” he further added. East Bengal’s defender Johnny Acosta featured for the Costa Rican National team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Talking about the defensive stability he brings, coach Alison said, “Acosta is a very good player, but it’s all about the team. We too have a very good set of players. Yes, we do have less experienced players. As long as we work hard, play together as a team and follow our philosophy, I think we have enough quality to beat them.”

The visitor's head coach Alejandro considers Thursday’s match to be a tough fixture going into the long season ahead.

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“We really respect Lajong for opting to play without foreigners and they performed very well in the last game. We know that it will be a difficult match. We have to give our maximum to win the game."

East Bengal, in its last four visits to Shillong, has managed to win only once. Asked about the impact of previous results on Thursday’s game, Alejandro said, "This year, our team is totally different than previous years. We must try to win. After 90 minutes, we will see whether we can or cannot win, but we have the confidence to win this difficult game.”