Shillong, Jan 12: Shillong Lajong will play their first home I-League match of the year against Indian Arrows at the JN Stadium tomorrow. Kick-off is at 2PM.

Lajong are at rock bottom of the standings with four points from 11 games with just one win and one draw. Both of those results came in home games. Lajong are six points off Indian Arrows and Aizawl, both of whom have 10 points each.

The Arrows won the last meeting between the two teams 1-0 on 5th November. However, when they last met in Shillong in January 2018 the result was the opposite with the Reds 1-0 winners.

Lajong are on a five-game losing streak, though all but one of those results were on the road. They last played at NEROCA, where they were beaten 3-2 on 4th January. In that game Sheen Sohktung scored his first I-League goal, while Phrangki Buam netted his fourth in his maiden season in the top flight. Buam thus became only the second Meghalaya footballer to score four goals in an I-League season after Eugeneson Lyngdoh. His goal was also the 100th that Lajong have scored in I-League away matches.

The Arrows, meanwhile, lost their most recent fixture 2-1 at home against East Bengal on 8th January, but three days before that they were 1-0 victors at Aizawl.

That was the Arrows’ only win in five away games (they’ve lost the other four). They have scored just five goals in 11 games while conceding 15. Contrast that with SLFC scoring 13 while conceding 33 (they’ve yet to keep a clean sheet, by the way).

Lajong have scored six of their goals in four home matches (average 1.5). The All India Football Federation development side, on the other hand, have only scored two in five away games (average 0.4). Given all that, TSR predicts that Lajong will win, though it’ll be close 1-0 or 2-1, we reckon. Anything less than victory and you can kiss the rest of Lajong’s season goodbye.

One person who is very keen on tomorrow’s match is Kitboklang Pale, who has played in four consecutive away fixtures since joining the Shillong club on loan.

“I have been waiting to play my first I-League game at home for a very long time now and finally the days are getting closer,” Pale was quoted as saying on Lajong’s social media pages on Thursday.

Lajong coach Alison Kharsyntiew, who has chopped and changed his starting line-up regularly, was quoted as saying, “The second leg of the I-League has begun and now it’s the time for the boys to play a more attacking, dominating and possession football… They need to be more brave and daring, convert their chances into goals and defend more aggressively.”

Easier said than done.

(TSR file photo)

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