HERO I-LEAGUE: Shillong-Aizawl face off in high voltage north-east derby

New Delhi, March 3, 2019: Shillong Lajong FC, after being the wooden-spooners for almost the entirety of the 12th Hero I-League season, will be looking at a proverbial ‘great escape’ at the fag-end to stave off relegation, when they take on former champions Aizawl FC on Monday at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium.

The North-East derby kicks-off at 2 PM IST and the visitors will be looking to win this one and the next, to avoid the last two relegation spots, provided some other results in the league go their way.

The home side Aizawl are sitting in eighth spot with 18 points from as many games and with two wins in their last four games look safe for a mid-table finish.

They have picked themselves up and dished out some solid performances after the arrival of their new coach Stanley Rosario in the latter stages of the league.

Two players in particular, Liberian Ansumanah Kromah and local talent Mapuia have been the pick of their players and duo’s goals have helped the proud former champions form a more inglorious finish given a ragged campaign for most of the initial stages.

Speaking at the match-day eve Press Conference, coach Stanley Rozario said, “I am happy that I’m out of relegation. That is more important and so I came here and helped the team. We moved the team from bottom to up and qualified for Super Cup. Shillong Lajong is in the relegation zone and they will come up strong because they want points. Tomorrow’s match is very important for us as it is going to be a North-Eastern derby. I am confident about my boys. They will be taking the three points tomorrow.”

His counterpart Alison Khasyntiew of Shillong seemed to be well aware of the herculean task at hand but was full of hope during the presser sharing, “We have two games left in this league, one with Aizawl tomorrow and next game is home game with Mohun Bagan and if we win both these matches then we might be out of relegation. We have to work very hard tomorrow against Aizawl. Hopefully we will get the three points. Aizawl has been doing good. Last game they did well. Tomorrow it will be a difficult match for us and hoping for three points. In the home game we defeated Aizawl so I hope tomorrow we will be able to defeat them.”

The ‘home-game’ he referred to was the first-leg fixture between the two-sides back in October last year, where his young and talented side bereft of any foreigners or big name players had given the best display of their attacking potential in a 2-1 victory. A Mahesh Naorem Singh left-footed screamer had announced the youngster on the national stage on that occasion.

The youngsters have developed well during the course of the league and have scored 20 goals so far, just one less than their Monday rivals, however their inexperience have cost them in their defence, leaking a whopping 49 goals over the league period, to find themselves in the position they are today.

Alison was right. If Shillong can take inspiration from that game back in October, Aizawl can well be surprised again on their home ground.

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