Shillong Lajong defeated Aizawl FC 2-1 in an I-League clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Meghalaya, on Monday evening. Abdoulaye Koffi (58') and Saihou Jagne's (73') had done the damage before Leonce Dodoz (90+6') pulled one back in injury time.
It was Santosh Kashyap's second game in charge of Aizawl FC after Portuguese gaffer Paulo Meneses was shown the door, the first ending in a 2-2 draw against Indian Arrows despite taking the lead twice.
"It was an entertaining match. The boys played according to the plan and created several moves. Shillong Lajong attacked very well and we (Aizawl) dominated the second half. However, two counter-attacks made us concede the goals," Kashyap assessed.
The former Air India coach pointed the absence of Masih Saighani as a crucial factor while persisting with his side to come good in the remaining three games against Indian Arrows, Minerva Punjab and Gokulam Kerala FC.
"Masih Saighani had a fever and a bad stomach due to which I had to keep him out and bring back (in defence) Alfred Jaryan to create a strong defence. Due to his absence, I had to change my plans.
"All teams are fighting relegation because it has been a close league in the top and lower halves. I am however confident we shall do well in the future games as our performance today was better than the last match."
Meanwhile, the Shillong Lajong man-in-charge Alison Kharsyntiew had reasons to feel proud of his side's performance.
"The boys are working very hard and the three points are all I asked for. The win boosts our morale but we have to consistent and not overconfident. We need to be humble and be hungry for our last game," he said.
Quizzed over Koffi starting from on the bench, he replied, "It was always in our plan to bring Abdoulaye Koffi in the second half only. And Masih Saighani’s absence was an advantage for us too."
As it was announced that the top six teams will get a direct entry into the Super Cup with the rest to go through playoffs, Kharsyntiew looks forward to their final game of the season against East Bengal.
"If we win against East Bengal, only then I can speak about Super Cup because we will have to wait for the results of the other matches," he observed.