I-League: Tough Shillong test for table-topper East Bengal

Shillong Lajong will be up against table-topper Kingfisher East Bengal on Saturday in what promises to be an exciting encounter.

Robin Singh has been in good form for East Bengal and will be the danger man.   -  V.Sreenivasa Murthy

Shillong Lajong will be up against table-topper Kingfisher East Bengal on Saturday in what promises to be an exciting encounter.

On a high, Lajong has won five of its last seven games and a victory over the Red and Golds tomorrow will set it up for a top four finish in the I-League.

The visitor, on the other hand, is looking to create history by winning its maiden I-League title and the Shillong outing assumes utmost significance as far as fulfilling its league ambition is concerned.

While the host comes to the tie on the back of a 4-1 away win over Chennai City, East Bengal completed its first-ever double over Bengaluru FC, thanks to its 3-1 win in the Garden City.

Despite a dream run at home, Lajong head coach Thangboi Singto is aware of the challenge at the store tomorrow and minced no words when he said, “The match against East Bengal will be our biggest test so far.”

“Till now we have beaten teams which are below us in the standings. To improve our position we have to beat sides which are ahead of us. So that way it’s a crucial encounter tomorrow,” Singto said in the pre-match conference here today.

Lajong gaffer also lavished praises on the opponents stating that the Red and Golds are the most balanced side in the I-League this season and have a strong bench.

Singto, however, underlined that Lajong has a good record against the Red and Golds and the hosts can net full three points tomorrow.

It may be mentioned that of the six occasions that Lajong has hosted East Bengal in the I-League, the Reds has won four times, which is the Club’s best win percentage (67%) at home against any long term I-League club.

Singto added that comeback man Aibor Khongjee will feature in the first 18 tomorrow.

Meanwhile, visitors’ coach Trevor Morgan stated that his boys will have their task cut out in Shillong.

Asserting that the table-toppers tag did not put any additional pressure on his side, Morgan said, “It’s all up to us. We know we are in a good position and we know what we need to do tomorrow. But nevertheless, we expect a very tough game.”

Replying to a query on East Bengal’s not-so-good track record against the Reds, Morgan said, “We can’t hide behind a bad track record. We can’t give excuses.’

The visiting coach said though every game is a must-win from here on, there will be a lot of twists and turns as the season progresses. “There are still 21 points to play for and all we can do is what we can do,” he said while replying to whether East Bengal was under pressure on account of its title ambitions.

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