Shillong, Dec 26: Shillong Lajong technical director Jose Carlos Rodriguez believes his players can be among the best in India and even go on to play for the national team.

Speaking to All India Radio’s Sports World programme that was broadcast yesterday, Rodriguez summed up his feelings after winning the Meghalaya State League 2019 title on 21st December, which came just over a month after Lajong also won the Shillong Premier League trophy.

“I feel incredible. These guys have worked fantastically from the first moment we started in the pre-season,” Rodriguez said after Lajong defeated Rangdajied United on penalties in the MSL final. “This is the result of their performance. It couldn’t have been better.”

Some of these boys had come into SLFC’s senior team after winning the U-18 Youth League title in 2017-18. The following season, however, was rough on Lajong, with the club unable to dominate in Shillong before being relegated from the I-League.

Rodriguez, a Pro Licence Coach, came in after the relegation and since has become well-known among the spectators for his booming voice and animated body language on the touchline. Since then Lajong won the SPL for the first time since 2016 before claiming their maiden MSL title (they didn’t take part in the inaugural edition of the tournament).

These two gongs aren’t the sum of Lajong’s ambitions, however.

“Everyday we have to improve. There is always a new challenge and there is never enough,” Rodriguez said. “The level of these guys is so high and they can grow very much because they are still very young. The future of this squad is unbelievable. If we carry on like this they will reach the top level all over India.”

And does that mean they could one day play for the Indian national team, Rodriguez was asked. “Yes, without a doubt,” was his categorical answer.

(Photo: Facebook/Meghalaya Football Association)

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