Shillong Lajong fans would be in for surprise as their side has made a good start to the season as they are placed fifth on the I-League table after two rounds of matches.
After having won against Mohun Bagan on the opening matchday, they followed it up with another good result by frustrating Salgaocar FC to a 1-1 draw.
“I was hoping to win the game really. We didn’t play our best. The back four was magnificent for us. We defended very well but one or two players were off for us and we didn’t pass the ball very well. We were very determined and that showed as we equalised in a minute after they scored. Their goal was a deflection of a wall and so we could have won it really. I think a draw was a fair result,” said coach Desmond Bulpin.
Salgaocar FC coach Karim Bencherifa praised Lajong’s fitness levels and Bulpin highlights that his side have worked hard on it during the pre-season.
“We worked very hard on our fitness; we did a lot of weights. The training sessions are always quick where we work on our shape and pressing. We work hard on passing the ball,” he said.
Bulpin is known to show faith in youngsters having spent most of his coaching careers with youth teams across the world, including Tottenham FC with Peter Crouch being his most famous prodigy. And the trend has continued in his time at Shillong now as was evident in the game against Salgaocar FC.
“We put a 17 year old (Jacob Lalrawngbawla) in the central midfield for the final 30 minutes. We had another 19 year old (Samuel Shadap) on the right wing for the final quarter of the match. There are some good young boys coming from the youth team. I am not afraid of playing young boys,” Bulpin mentioned.
Most teams find it difficult to break down north eastern sides when playing away from home and Bulpin explains the reasons for the same.
“It’s (The fans) a big help. I also think that because it’s a bit cooler here, that helps. Even Karim said that without floodlights in Goa, you won’t see many energetic games of football. I saw Dempo play (Sporting Clube de Goa) under floodlights and they were good. If we get a big crowd and in the evening, it’s a bit cooler, you will see good football.
“In hot places like Kolkata, until there is an evening kick-off under lights, it’s difficult to see good football. I think this would definitely help Indian football and fans will get to see a livelier game,” he opined.
However Bulpin was a tad disappointed with the attitude of a certain section of fans who have been difficult to please despite the brilliant start the north eastern club has enjoyed.
“We beat Wellington Phoenix, we beat United Sikkim, Mohun Bagan and drew with Salgaocar FC this season. However some of the fans are disappointed. Last year they lost six of their last six games in a row. The problem is some people are expecting too much. If we finish in top six that will be a great season for us,” he concluded.
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