Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan face Meghalaya outfit Shillong Lajong on Saturday evening in the 2017-18 I-League. Speaking ahead of the clash, Mohun Bagan head coach Sankarlal Chakraborty claimed that their opponent’s attack is lethal and applauded Samuel Lalmuanpuia for his set-piece skills.
‘’The team combination of Shillong Lajong is very good; their attacking side is strong. Samuel (Lalmuanpuia), as per my knowledge, is the best set piece taker in India."
Also, the coach stated that the weather conditions in Shillong would be challenging. "I don’t know how (cold) will it be tomorrow at 5 PM; the weather will be very tough to play in. The players are having a tough time with the weather. We are not used to this weather in Kolkata. But this isn’t an excuse,’’ expressed Chakraborty.
Formerly with Shillong Lajong, Yuta Kinowaki and Aser Dipanda are now plying their trade with the Mariners. Speaking about the duo, Sankarlal mentioned, ‘’Yuta (Kinowaki) is coming back and so is Dicka (Aser Dipanda). Since they played last year for Shillong Lajong, their knowledge of the opposition will help us.’’
Stalwart Sony Norde had to part ways with Mohun Bagan earlier this season due to a season-long injury. When asked if his departure has impacted the team, the coach answered, ‘’Sony Norde is a good player in my opinion but only one good player cannot change a title (campaign). Team efforts are needed.’’
Further, he reassured that the team is high in spirits ahead of the tough away fixture. ‘’The team spirit and combination, since the derby, has been excellent. But an away match is not easy to win. We are confident,’’ said Sankarlal.
Lastly, on being asked if the side are still competing for the title, Sankarlal revealed, ‘’Of course, we are still hoping for the title. We are taking one match at a time. The league table is still open but we have to win our matches.’’
On the other hand, Shillong Lajong assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew stated that his side are ready to face Mohun Bagan without the services of Aiman Al-Hagri who was released by the club due to personal reasons. Further, the assistant coach explained the areas in which his young guns need improvement.
‘’In the last three games, we played with Aiman (Al-Hagri) not starting, so it won’t affect us at all.
Once we get into the attacking third, the players lack confidence. We have been working on that; hopefully, the players keep scoring in the next games,’’ he commented.
On being asked if the side will bring in a new foreigner to replace Aiman, he denied saying, ‘’We will stick with our same players for the rest of the season.’’
Alison stated that the tight schedule of the tournament has affected the team’s performance but Lajong are looking for a top-four finish. ‘’Maybe the scheduling of the league has been a factor which has affected our performance. We travelled from Goa to Manipur with no rest and then to Kerala. Our plan is to win the rest of the games. A top-four finish would be great for us,’’ he signed off.