Shillong, Jun 15: Between them they have won all six of the last OC Blue Shillong Premier League titles, so expectations are justifiably high as defending champions Shillong Lajong FC are set to face Langsning FC on day two of the league tomorrow. Kick-off at the MFA Turf, Third Ground, Polo, will be at 4PM.

Lajong won three SPL titles on the trot between 2014 and 2016 before Langsning usurped the crown in 2017 and 2018. SLFC then returned to the fore in 2019, the last season before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

Both teams have seen their fair share of churning in the ranks, perhaps more so for Lajong, who will be led this year by Bobby Lyngdoh Nongbet. The renowned youth coach has been with the Reds for years but this is the first time he will be leading the SPL team.

“We have much younger boys this year than 2019, with ages of between 17 and 20,” Lyngdoh said at the pre-match press conference. “I’m confident of a good match against Langsning with a new set of boys who have done very well at the junior level for club and state.”

Although young, some of the Lajong players have already made a name for themselves, like Gladdy Kharbuli, Henry Ford Nongeng, Saveme Tariang and Sangti Janai Shianglong, who have represented Meghalaya or their club with distinction. A couple of very exciting youngsters in the form of Wadajied Kynsai Ryngkhlem and Tremiki Lamurong, who played for Meghalaya at the junior nationals in 2020, are also in the mix.

Langsning did not have a strong 2019 season, as they finished fourth out of seven teams. They were defensively weak but they have brought in a familiar and experienced face to correct this in the form of Dibinroy Nongspung. They have also signed playmaker Roikhihbha Nongtdu from Nangkiew Irat and attacking midfielder Batiphar Swer from Nongrim Hills. However, they will continue to rely on Kitboklang Pale and Kynsaibor Lhuid up front.

“The SPL is one of the biggest leagues in the state and we hope that our performance will be good tomorrow,” Langsning’s Dapmon Tariang said. “Just from the names of our two clubs people will expect a good match.”

Both sides will be missing out on a couple of players who have been occupied on state duty, however, like Lajong’s Glennys Lynrah, who was playing in the recently-concluded Khelo India Youth Games. Nevertheless, hopes are high that Thursday’s match will surpass even today’s exciting opening fixture.

(Shillong Sports Association photo. (L-R) Shillong Lajong’s Bobby L Nongbet and Gladdy Kharbuli, Langsning’s Frolicson Dkhar and Dapmon Tariang)

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