Shillong, Jan 18: Real Kashmir will give all that they can on the pitch to try and pick up another three points when they clash with Shillong Lajong in match number 70 of I-League 2019-19 tomorrow at the JN Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 5PM.
The fortunes of the two clubs could not be more different.
Lajong have lost 10 of their 12 games this season and are rock bottom in the standings with just four points. They would have hoped to pick up points when they hosted Indian Arrows last Sunday, but the players, by and large, looked lethargic and out of sorts and they were handed a heavy 3-0 defeat.
In their debut season, meanwhile, Real Kashmir are challenging for the I-League title. They are currently in third place on 22 points, the same as Churchill Brothers, but the Goans have a better goal difference.
With Churchill also to be involved on the same day, against fourth-placed NEROCA (21 points), Real Kashmir will look for victory in Shillong to keep them within touching distance of league leaders Chennai City.
Interestingly Real Kashmir have yet to be beaten in six consecutive away games, winning three and drawing three, and will hope to continue that against Lajong. They have already claimed the scalp of one coach – Sankarlal Chakraborty, who resigned from Mohun Bagan after the Kashmir side beat the Mariners 2-1 in Kolkata at the start of this month. Chennai City’s only defeat of the season also came at the hands of Real Kashmir, who beat them 1-0 last month.
Real Kashmir do not win by scoring plenty of goals – they have put in just 15, six of which came in the 6-1 hammering of Lajong in Srinagar in December. Instead, they have been stingy in conceding goals, yielding just seven (the lowest of all 11 clubs) over the course of their 12 matches.
Key players of theirs to look out for include three who have past experience of playing in Shillong for other local clubs – forwards Nadong Bhutia and Nagen Tamang and defender Loveday Enyinnaya Okechukwu.
They could well find success in Shillong again given that Lajong seem to have given up the ghost.
The defeat to the Arrows was a real shocker, with the players, except for maybe Sheen Sohktung, Kitboklang Pale and Phrangki Buam, just going through the motions on the pitch and waiting for the final whistle.
Their performance was not helped by the poor turnout of spectators. Fewer than 3,000 fans were in the stands that day, the lowest for a Lajong home match in years.