Bhaichung Bhutia's side are just a place above the relegation spot, and go into the derby with much more pressure on his team. Can they register their second win of the campaign?
UNITED SIKKIM FC
SHILLONG LAJONG FC
Subhash,Passah, Minchol, Lallawmzuala;
Renedy, Jacob, Hmar, JibonJiboJJibon Jibon;
Sushil Singh, Gbeneme
United Sikkim take on Shillong Lajong in an I-League encounter at the Paljor Stadium in Gangtok, with the Sikkimese outfit in desperate need of three points, to pull away from the relegation zone.
Bhaichung Bhutia’s side are stuck in a rut, as they are yet to register a win after the morale boosting, opening day triumph against Salgaocar.
The team’s problems at the back have been well-documented, and it has not been just in the game against Prayag United. Even against Air India, they let a win slip from their grasp, conceding twice in the dying minutes of the game.
Up against the direct and physical style of Lajong, Captain Anwar Ali’s presence will be even more important. There could be no better time for the Indian International to finally regain his form, which has been inconsistent this season.
With other relegation contenders steadily picking up points, United Sikkim need to also get a move on, if they are to continue in this division next campaign as well.
United Sikkim need to start picking up a few wins...
Shillong Lajong meanwhile have been comfortably placed in a mid-table position since the start of the season.
Minchol Son in defense has been an assuring presence. His absence against Mumbai FC earlier in the season had shown what a difference he makes to this team, as the side had slumped to a 4-1 loss.
Upfront Gbeneme Friday and Sushil Kumar Singh have started to show promise as a pair, and they shall be crucial to where Desmond Bulpin’s side end up when the season comes to a close.
Being the first ever North-East derby in the top tier of Indian football, neither team should be lacking in motivation, with a packed house expected to show-up at the Paljor Stadium.
United Sikkim – With no pressing injury issues, one can epect the hosts to name their strongest possible XI, maybe an unchanged one, from the side that held Churchill Brothers to a 0-0 draw. Remains to be seen if Bhaichung Bhutia takes his place on the bench, following the recent demise of his father.
Shillong Lajong – The Reds also go into the game on the back of a goalless draw against East Bengal. Remains to be seen if Boithang Haokip reclaims his starting berth, knowing that Desmond Bulpin generally doesn’t like to chop and change a lot.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- The only previous meeting between the two sides in a game on the national circuit, ended 2-2, in an I-League division 2 qualifier.
- United Sikkim are on a 8 match winless streak. Their only win came on the very first match-day, against fellow strugglers Salgaocar FC.
- With 4 goals each, Gbeneme Friday and Nurudeen Salau are the top strikers for their respective units.
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