Shillong, Dec 29: Shillong Lajong registered their third consecutive draw in the All India Football Federation’s U-17 boys’ Elite League, this time with East Bengal.
The match in Imphal ended 0-0. Lajong were held to a 1-1 draw with Gauhati Town Club two days ago, which came after another goalless encounter with Classic Football Academy before Christmas.
Not winning today’s encounter means that Lajong are unable to qualify for the next round. Only the 10 group winners and six best second-placed teams will progress from the group stage. Both EB and CFA have 7 points each while Lajong have 3 with one round remaining.
“It was a fantastic match today,” coach Bobby Lyngdoh Nongbet said. “It also says that Lajong are undefeated still. The boys were awesome today. Played a more attractive game than East Bengal and also than the last two matches.”
If the boys had been able to approach their first two matches the way they did today, “we would have been well ahead in the group,” Nongbet added.
It was in 2018 that Lajong were the national champions of the U-17 Youth League, the previous incarnation of the Elite League and they were led to the title by Nongbet.
“Playing the national youth competition after 2019 (the next year Covid-19 interrupted normal functioning), it’s applaudable to say our boys have adapted well to the approach of competitiveness this kind of level has to offer. Its just getting better and challenging at every tournament/competition,” the coach said. “The youth tournaments now in our country have a very tough level of competition. Teams are more equipped, exposed to better trainings, organised, prepared, with better coaches, academies and clubs with a good youth development system. It’s really getting interestingly competitive.”
SLFC and Jamshedpur FC are tied on 3 points each but the former are in front on goal difference (0 to -1).
Jamshedpur will be Lajong’s last group stage opponents and the two sides will clash on 31st December.