Shillong, Feb 21: Bottom side Shillong Lajong absolutely must beat Gokulam Kerala in their I-League meeting at the JN Stadium here tomorrow or that will probably be it for Lajong in the I-League. Kick-off will be at 5PM.
Lajong have 10 points from 17 matches, while Gokulam (who are in 10th place) have 13 from 16.
If the Kerala side win tomorrow they will pull out a six-point lead over Lajong, which the latter could only equal if they win their last two games. However, even if Lajong did this and Gokulam failed to earn any more points in their remaining matches, SLFC would still remain in 11th on head-to-head (Gokulam were 3-1 winners in the first leg) if not goal difference (-6 to -29).
The Reds will have a certain amount of confidence within themselves despite losing to Chennai City a few days ago. Although the result was 4-2, it was always going to prove difficult against the league leaders and two goals to their credit through Kitboklang Pale and Samuel Lyngdoh Kynshi would have done the team’s morale some good.
Gokulam, meanwhile, have not won a single away match this season and only two of their home games. Lajong have been victorious on three occasions this season, but Gokulam have more points thanks to squeezing out plenty more draws.
It’s been a terrible second season in the I-League for the Kerala club after having signed their full quota of foreigners and bringing on Gift Raikhan as technical director midway through the season after the ex-Aizawl FC coach parted ways with his former club.
They will hope that something changes markedly when they take on Lajong but the visitors will have to overcome a mountain of bad form. While the hosts won their last game earlier this month (3-2 vs Churchill Brothers), Gokulam have gone the last 11 matches without a win; they haven’t grabbed three full points since 18th November, when they pipped Minerva Punjab 1-0.
If Gokulam’s fortunes are down, however, SLFC’s are on a rollercoaster ride – there simply isn’t any way that anyone could even reasonably predict how the youngsters are going to perform on any particular day.
Gokulam have only played one I-League fixture before in Shillong, losing to Lajong last season 1-0. Changing that scenario around would be a massive boost to Gokulam, who would move to eighth position, but it could sound the death knell for Lajong.
(TSR file photo)