Shillong, May 25: It’ll be a momentous day tomorrow for Shillong Lajong FC, or as their coach Bobby Nongbet put it, “the most crucial 90 minutes the boys will play.”
Having never before made it to an U-18 Youth League final, let alone semifinal, tomorrow they’ll be vying for the title when they take on Kerala Blasters at the JN Stadium at 4:30PM. Entry is free.
Lajong have always managed to do well in the zonal stage of the competition, previously known as the U-18 I-League, but have underwhelmed at the national level. This year has been different, with SLFC being unbeaten in 10 straight games, right from the group stage.
Perhaps having the final round of the competition on home turf has been a positive factor or maybe it’s just that the team has been the right one to get the job done. Either way, it’s been an impressive run for Lajong and they’re looking to go all the way.
“It was a great match against East Bengal and we played according to plan,” Nongbet was quoted as saying in a club press release today. “The match on Saturday will be tough and it will be the most crucial 90 minutes the boys will play.”
The Blasters, meanwhile, have played an extra match on their route to the final and have lost two out of the 11. In the final round they’ve been unbeaten, though, and have won their last three fixtures, but not convincingly.
Each of those three games, including the victory over SAI Kolkata yesterday, saw the Kerala team win by a one-goal margin; they’ve conceded far too many and that could well be a weak point in the final. The Blasters have gotten to where they are now because despite letting all those goals through they’ve been able to score plenty as well. Kerala Blasters have scored 22 goals and conceded 12 overall.
However, their players might find it a little harder to score against Lajong, who have only conceded three goals in their 10 matches thus far, while scoring 21.
Expect plenty of fan support for Lajong. Will that give them the edge on the day? Find out right here tomorrow evening.