The north-easterners face a stern outfit who have shone under Santosh Kashyap, this Sunday evening. Can a relegation wary Lajong grind out a good result for themselves?
Lallawmzuala, Passah, Son, Shadap;
Haokip, Taisuket, Lyngdoh, Jibon;
Sali, Gurung, Odeola, Naresh;
Puia, Surabuddin, Bisht, Katsumi;
An intriguing matchup awaits us at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong this Sunday as a desperate Shillong Lajong outfit welcome a well-oiled ONGC side in the 23rd I-League gameweek.
The onus this time around will definitely be on Lajong as they will be looking to make home advantage count in correcting their erronous ways in recent times. While both teams will go into this one on the back of two consecutive draws, the north east team will be the more concerned side as they lie at the 10th position in the standings with 21 points, half a dozen points off the drop-zone.
ONGC, who are placed in the seventh slot with 29 points, too come into this one after fighting draws against Sporting Clube de Goa and Churchill Brothers. Moreover, the visitors who have really found their feet under the tutelage of Santosh Kashyap have impressed one and all this season with some gritty displays and commendable defending. Wahid Sali & Co have done well more often than not this campaign. Shillong will have to come up with some hard tactics and a smooth display if they are to breakdown this ONGC defence.
The record of both these teams in their last 5 games are more or less similar. While Lajong have drawn three and won and lost one apiece, ONGC have a couple of draws and losses to go with their one win which came against Pailan Arrows.
While regaining confidence will be high on both these teams' priorities, the bright spark for Lajong has been their loan signing from Blackburn Rovers - Edinho Jr. Thangboi Singto's side will be hoping for the Portuguese starlet to shine against ONGC on Sunday in their bid to restore parity as far as the relegation battle is concerned.
So compared to the Meghalaya side, Kashyap's men do not have much to lose while going into this one.
|Kashyap: I am extremely proud of my players|
In an exclusive conversation with Goal.com, Kashyap gave credit to his whole set of players of giving their all in their performances so far since his time at the helm. "Despite uncertainty in the team owing to injuries and suspensions, the players have been doing a great job. The team's performances in the games after the break have been exemplary", he reveled in his side's glory.
He also added, "While other sides in the league have added fresh talent from overseas and tried to fire their way forward, ONGC has been progressing by leaps and bounds given the same squad from the start of the season, within the given budget. I think that is something to be proud about."
The former Mohun Bagan coach also quipped on the ongoing debate regarding afternoon games in the I-League. "I am happy that all the other coaches in the competition too are voicing their concern regarding the 2 PM kick-offs. It will be in everyone's best interest to push matches further later in the day. While spectators can turn up in larger numbers after finishing their work-day, players too will have a good game under favourable conditions. This is not a school team match. This is the I-league. It will be good for Indian football to shift timings."
A pleasant game is in the offing for both sides as kick off is scheduled at 5 PM this Sunday evening.
Shillong Lajong: Goals have not been that big a problem for Lajong with Edinho, Haokip, Kamimura and others finding the net in recent times. If anything, they need to stay compact at the back and show consistency. Singto could name a similar side to the one that drew 2-2 against Mohun Bagan last time out.
ONGC: They have been in great form ever since Kashyap took over, and will hope to pick up another big scalp. While Keniston is still unavailable; Joel, Dhanesh (both knee) and Kamal Thapa are still on the sidelines. The returning Surabuddin could make a comeback to the starting lineup or start on the bench.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- The season's corresponding fixture in Delhi finished 3-0 to ONGC with Eric Brown and Katsumi Yusa finding the net, the latter boasting a double.
- Santosh Kashyap is one of the very few Indian coaches who possesses an AFC 'A' License.
- Shillong Lajong's goal difference of -15 is only better than the -19 of Air India and United Sikkim.
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