Shillong, Nov 18: Shillong Lajong FC will host twice champions Gokulam Kerala in their I-League 2023-24 meeting at First Ground, Polo, here on Sunday. Kick-off will be at 2PM.

This will be Lajong’s biggest test of the season thus far as Gokulam are at the top of the points table right now (which could change depending on tonight’s Rajasthan FC vs Mohammedan Sporting match).

The visiting side have become a major powerhouse in the years since Lajong were relegated from the I-League at the end of 2018-19. The Kerala side won the league in 2020-21 and then became the first club ever to defend their title the following year. Although they weren’t toppers last year, they still finished third and are seeking to reclaim glory this time around.

For SLFC, the season has so far been an average one. Three points from three draws, against Mohammedan, NEROCA and Sreenidi Deccan, isn’t where they would’ve wanted to be on their I-League return, especially as the last two were at home – they were in winning positions in each of those, which would have made the results harder to swallow.

Gokulam, meanwhile, drew their opener with newbies Inter Kashi 2-2 but then romped to victory in their next three outings – 4-1 versus NEROCA, 5-0 against Rajasthan and 2-0 over TRAU. This will thus be their third meeting of a North East club and they’ll want to make it a perfect hat-trick of wins.

The player to look out for will be the Spaniard Alex Sanchez, who has jumped up the top scorer charts with eight goals already, including a hat-trick against Rajasthan.

With only 3 points, Lajong are 11th in the table (which could also change depending on the result of tonight’s match). They’ve never drawn their three first matches of an I-League season before and a fourth would be even more unusual but, given Gokulam’s strengths, it may very well be acceptable in the grand scheme of things.

(Photo: Shillong Lajong/Facebook)

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