Shillong Lajong play their final game of the ongoing I-League season when they host title contenders East Bengal at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Shillong, Meghalaya, on Monday evening.
Lajong coach Alison Kharsyntiew still remembers the 5-1 drubbing his side received in Kolkata and urged his boys for an improved performance.
"I told my players to play as if it's the last game of their life. We cannot lose. We lost 5-1 against East Bengal at their home (Kolkata). This (Shillong) is our home ground and we have to take advantage of that," he observed.
"We could have done better in some games, but that's the past now. We have to give it our best tomorrow and ensure a top five finish which will be a good achievement for the team," the former Lajong youth coach added.
A win on Monday will ensure a fifth place finish for the hosts, the same as last season, who are currently sixth on 21 points from 17 games while Gokulam Kerala are with 20 points with a game in hand.
With East Bengal also needing a win to boost their title hopes, Kharsyntiew said, "A game is a game. We also have the pressure of being in the top five. So we have to work hard for the three points.Quizzed if the two-week break will affect the team, he replied, "We have been playing many matches and this break would have helped us to recover and play with fresh legs tomorrow (Monday)."
Meanwhile, East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil knows well that a win over Lajong will give them the favourites tag towards the Red and Golds ' I-League title quest.
"You can say that it is a vital match," he said. We have to do well because we are playing against a good team. Everybody must give 100 percent.
"It won't be an easy game for us. The boys are all mature to know this as they are experienced and mature players. So we will be thinking about only this match now."
Asked if he will adopt a safety first approach, the former Mumbai FC coach responded, "We have to defend when we have to defend and attack when there is an opportunity, but more importantly, we have to approach the match positively."
Jamil led Aizawl FC to their maiden I-League victory after six years at Mumbai FC and was thereon roped in by East Bengal.
"The expectation is much higher (at East Bengal) in every match. I have taken it as a big challenge for myself," he acknowledged as the Kolkatan giants eye for their maiden I-League championship.