Two teams from the top half of the I-League table will go head-to-head on Wednesday in a group C opening clash…Group C sees Salgaocar FC and Shillong Lajong battle in order to make a winning start to their Federation Cup campaign at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.
Derrick Pereira’s team haven’t been in the best of forms having lost four of their last five matches. However the Goan side have played a few practice matches lately and have performed well in them.
They have added Mumbai Tigers striker Bikash Jairu on their roster and go into the tournament with only three foreign players, namely Darryl Duffy, Matthew Foschini and Chika Wali. Karma Tsewang is the only high profile name missing from the squad due to a knee injury.
“Our preparations were good and it was good that all the teams got a break before this competition. The format is such that it can be anybody’s day as it depends on how the teams perform on the given day.
“In our group, all the teams are tough with Mohun Bagan being the toughest. It is a do-or-die situation and it is vital to make a good start,” said coach Derrick Pereira.
On the other hand, Shillong Lajong play all of their group games at 4 pm and the north eastern outfit will have to adjust to the weather conditions.
“Ideally we would have preferred playing at 7 pm but it's fine. In Shillong, the temperature is around 14 degrees around 4 pm whereas here it’s over 30 degrees,” said coach Thangboi Singto.
Uilliams Silva has been left out of their striker which leaves Singto with only three foreign players of which too Minchol Son remains a doubtful starter.
“We will start with Taisuke Matsugae and Cornell Glenn. Minchol will play a part but I am not sure if he will start,” he said.
Singto too hoped that his side make a positive start to their campaign but added that playing against Salgaocar will be a tough proposition.
“The two teams have three foreigners each and hopefully that could be a blessing in disguise as we could have more players to choose from the league resumes,” Singto observed.
It will be an interesting battle with the two sides being coaches by Indian tacticians, one is an experienced coach who has the experience of winning the Federation Cup while the other is making his mark in the top flight.
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