Khalid Jamil's Aizawl FC inched closer to the title victory following a 1-0 win over Mohun Bagan last weekend after Zohmingliana Ralte scored the winner in the dying moments of the game. In their final tie of the season, the Mizoram outfit will take on Thangboi Singto's young Shillong Lajong side on Sunday evening in Shillong.
The visitors are currently on 36 points and need just one point to seal the league title no matter the result of Mohun Bagan.
However, the side will miss the services of two of its key players against Lajong.
Defender Ashutosh Mehta and Liberian midfielder Alfred Jaryan are set to be on the absentees' list for the all-important clash. The duo has been sidelined on account of having picked up four yellow cards each, which has led to suspension.
The Gujarat-born defender entered the referee's book in the ties against Mohun Bagan (H), Minerva Punjab (A), Bengaluru (H) and Mumbai (A) while former Mohammedan Sporting Club player Jaryan was booked in the matches versus Mohun Bagan (H), Bengaluru (A), Chennai City (H) and Mohun Bagan (A).
Jaryan has featured in all 17 fixtures for Aizawl - having started in all and has never been substituted out whereas Mehta has had 16 appearances with a goal to his name, as well.
While replacing Mehta is feasible with right-back Lalrinzuala Khiangte having made 10 appearances this season (5 starts), the task of finding the midfield engine Jaryan will be troubling for Khalid Jamil. The man who has not missed even a minute of Aizawl's season has no natural replacement for the job he does and the likes of Albert Zohmingmawia and H. Lalmuankima will have to play out of their skin to come even close to him. Both these players are much more attacking and will need to curb their natural instinct as they need to get stuck in against the formidable midfield of Isaac and Yuta Kinowaki of Shillong.
As for opponents Shillong Lajong, they will host the title contenders following a 1-1 draw at Cooperage against the Mumbaikars. Redeem Tlang had missed the tie at Mumbai due to suspension but the youngster will be available on Sunday. Star striker Aser Dipanda too was absent due to groin strain but gaffer Singto is hopeful of the Cameroonian's return. The hosts have no suspensions for the North East derby.
The match will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on 30th April, Sunday and is scheduled to kick start at 19:05 IST.