I-League 2018-19: Laggards Shillong Lajong and Indian Arrows will lock horns with little more than pride to play for in an I-League clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday. Shillong, who chose not to go with foreign recruits this year and instead play a young in-house side with Alison Kharsyntiew in charge, find themselves at the bottom of the 11-team pile, suffering nine losses and conceding a whopping 33 goals – by far the highest in the league, in their 11 games so far.
Their only win at home came against Aizawl in October last year, and they have been at the receiving end of two 1-6 scorelines and also went down to their Sunday opponents in the first leg away from home.
The Arrows, on the other hand, have already matched their debut season three wins record and look hungry for more, presenting a wholesome challenge in every game to the strongest of teams.
Credit must go to coach Floyd Pinto for shaping a resilient and competitive side. The drafting of U-16 youngsters Vikram Pratap Singh and Rohit Danu has added a lot of zest in attack to go with their organised game at the back and midfield.
Ahead of the tie, Floyd said, “Shillong Lajong play good attacking football. Any game between the two elite youth clubs is going to be tough. Both the teams will be giving their 100 per cent.”
“We scored in our last game but it was pretty close. Our aim will be to get the three points. The game tomorrow will be totally different because both the teams are having young players.”
“These kinds of matches give them a platform to play with good players and bigger football clubs,” he added.
Not only have they beaten sides like Aizawl, Gokulam and Shillong, but they have also given stronger sides like Quess East Bengal (QEB) and Minerva a run for their money.
But it is not as if it has been all gloom and doom for Shillong. You only have to look at the statistic which says that Shillong have scored 13 goals to the Arrows five, to know that there is talent at their disposal.
In fact, midfielder Phrangki Buam is amongst the highest scorers in the league with four goals and has probably been one of the finds of the season.
The Shillong youngsters play with a lot of passion and will surely remember their loss to the Arrows at the Barabati and will be itching to have a go at them on home turf.
Speaking to the media on matchday eve, Alison Kharsyntiew said: “We have scored 13 goals and conceded 33. The most important thing for the boys is to attack in the defence.”
“If our defence is good we can defeat any team. The boys are ready for tomorrow’s match they will go all out and give their 100 percent.”
“The players have worked really hard in the training and our aim is to get the 3 points. Indian Arrows is a good team they have good players like Boris. Their game is very intense with immense speed, our defence and mid field have to cope up to their speed,” Kharsyntiew added.