SHILLONG: East Bengal’s new coach Trevor James Morgan will begin his first real test of his second tenure at the Kolkata football giants when they face Shillong Lajong FC in a Federation Cup away knockout fixture here on Sunday.
Lajong finished sixth in the recent I-League and defeated East bengal 1-0 in their final fixture away on April 24 to confirm survival in the league.
The match was Morgan’s first in charge of his team, in his second tenure at the club. He won two Federation Cups in three years with East Bengal during his first stint.
He faces a huge challenge to overturn East Bengal’s fortunes after they managed to finish a disappointing third in the I-League.
Lajong will draw confidence from the recent win against them, making Morgan’s task tougher. The 8-time champions are scheduled to arrive at Shillong late on Saturday evening.
The home team, however, will be without the injured Aibor Khongjee and Aiban Dohling are out with injuries. Their fortunes depend heavily on playmaker Penn Orji, a former East Bengal player under Morgan.
“The good thing is that we are starting at home. The team spirit is always there in Lajong starting from first game of the season till the end,” Lajong head coach Thangboi Singto said in a release on Saturday.
“We have leadership and experience at one end, youth and talent at the other and that is the way Lajong has gone through this season. So going forward I think East Bengal has always been tough but the game we won in the last match was a bit lucky.”
Lajong, the 2010 finalists, will look to keep their defence tight so as to not give away an away goal that would come in handy in the second leg of the tie.
The change in format of the tournament, from a group-knockout to a home and away knockout system, will aid the team who has the most away goals.