Shillong Lajong FC are fourth in the standings, with 20 points from 14 games, and can ensure that they end the year at the same spot with a win on Saturday.
The home side have an edge coming into the match with team’s finding it difficult to acclimatize to the chilly weather conditions. Having hit zero degrees Celsius on Tuesday, already a few Dempo SC players have got a running nose.
Lajong also have their fair share of woes with the most recent being the 5-1 drubbing in Goa against title contenders Sporting Club de Goa. Reflecting on the same, coach Thangboi Singto said, "They (Sporting) played well in the second half scoring four goals and we didn’t play badly. They found their goals only on a few defensive mistakes."
"Dempo will be the fourth Goan side we will face (at home), and we have got six points already against them. We will look to get nine out of a possible 12 (at home against Goan teams)," Singto added while admitting that he "admires" Dempo’s brand of football.
The hosts will still be without striker Uilliams Souza Silva (hairline fracture on heel) and Cornell Glen will also miss the game due to suspension after picking up four yellow cards in the previous matches.
Meanwhile, the condition of Lajong captain Minchol Son will also have to be assessed as he is yet to regain his fitness.
Dempo SC currently occupy the ninth spot, having collected 16 points from 14 games, and come in the match following a 1-0 win in Kolkata over Mohun Bagan.
Defenders Samir Naik and Shinnosuke Honda will continue to be out of action with injuries, while the absence of Brazilian playmaker Beto who is also injured could be the deciding factor for Dempo. Coach Arthur Papas is yet to return to India and resume his coaching duties as Dempo will look to avenge their 3-0 defeat in Goa to the north eastern brigade.
Skipper Clifford Miranda however stated that they would want to "finish on a high going into the break" while stressing that "this is a young team under a lot of transition and a win would boost their confidence."
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