Shillong, Dec 1: Shillong Lajong will host NEROCA in the third North East derby of I-League 2018-19 tomorrow at the JN Stadium. Kick-off will be at 5PM.
Both sides will enter this contest under pressure, with the two clubs only registering one win each. NEROCA, however, have played five matches to Lajong’s six.
The Manipur team are in eighth spot with five points, with SLFC in 10th on four.
NEROCA have played three away matches so far and have experienced the full gamut of results – they drew the second North East derby 0-0 at Aizawl, beat newbies Real Kashmir 2-0 and then, most recently, lost out narrowly to league leaders Chennai City 2-1.
On the only occasion that these sides have met in Shillong in the I-League, NEROCA were 1-0 victors last year.
Subhash Singh (pictured right), who scored the winner for NEROCA last year, remains part of the Manipur side and will look for further success against his former club. He had previously played for Lajong in 2013-14.
Lajong, for their part, squandered a two-goal lead over defending champions Minerva Punjab last Friday to end with just a draw.
The Reds have been dangerous in counterattacks, being able to use their youthful speed, while they’ve shown that they have some mature minds who can soak up the pressure and score, like Phrangki Buam and Allen Lyngdoh Nongbri did in their goals the last time around.
Lajong have scored eight goals in all so far, which is plenty for them, but they’ve also been far too guilty of giving the ball away and conceding. They’ve conceded 14 goals in all thus far.
Lyngdoh Nongbri scored his goal in the 43rd minute and a more experienced side would have tried harder to see out the first half with the two-goal buffer. Lajong couldn’t, however, and they were under tremendous pressure in the second half and conceded the equaliser rather late in the game.
Coach Alison Kharsyntiew has been experimenting with different defensive combinations and we can probably expect more of the same tomorrow. He may also choose to field Phurba Tempa Lachenpa in goal after Neithovilie Chalieu had a rather forgettable performance versus Minerva.
It could also be possible that there will be a new face in front, with Lajong confirming that Kitboklang Pale has joined them on loan. Pale, who has scored plenty of goals for Langsning in the Shillong Premier League and Second Division League, will don the No. 10 jersey.
(TSR file photo)