Shillong, May 22: Praise has understandably poured in for Shillong Lajong after they secured qualification to the I-League by winning their last match of the Second Division League here yesterday.
Lajong managing director Larsing Ming Sawyan admitted to having his doubts but gave full credit to coach Bobby Lyngdoh Nongbet and “his band of boys”.
“They wanted nothing less than I-League qualification and they achieved it,” Sawyan said on social media. “Credit also to the coaching and support staff. So proud of the fighting mentality this team under Bobby’s leadership exhibited. (To be honest, I wasn’t sure this was our year.)”
Nongbet, for his part, said he was “proud of the team” and noted how the club finished at the bottom of the I-League in 2018-19 and are back after four years. “Now the journey starts for the young warriors as they venture into a new challenge in the upcoming I-League 2023-24.”
Congratulations also came in from various quarters, such as Halen Nongtdu and several past players of Lajong – Phrangki Buam, Samuel Lyngdoh Kynshi, Kynsailang Khongsit, Redeem Tlang, Samuel Lalmuanpuia – as well as the club’s old coach, Thangboi Singto.
Another ex-coach, Alison Kharsyntiew, said, “Congratulations Shillong Lajong. Happy to see a team from Shillong in the I-League again. Big achievement for the state and the Meghalaya Football Association. We need more teams from our state participating in the I-League.”
Meanwhile, Sawyan also paid tribute to the way the fans have backed the club through the years.
“This qualification is dedicated to all the die-hard fans and well wishers of the club. Without the energy of the Lajong faithfuls, there would be nothing to play for. I would like to place on record that the Shillong Lajong journey is alive and kicking because of the fans,” he said.
With the Indian Super League now open to promotion, Lajong’s goals don’t end with just the I-League.
“Lajong is seized of the fact that if that (promotion to the ISL) is to happen, then there will be a need for a larger collaboration between the club and its supporters to materialise the dream of having Lajong in the ISL,” Sawyan said, ending with “The Long Road Ahead (?!)”