Match Preview: Shillong Lajong vs Mohun Bagan AC
SHILLONG: Having had a poor run in the recent matches against Aizawl FC and at the derby in Kolkata, table toppers Mohun Bagan AC, who is facing Shillong Lajong FC tomorrow here, is likely to miss their head coach Sanjoy Sen like never before.
Not having head coach Sanjoy Sen in the team is one of the reasons for their poor performance resulting in poor run and defeats against Aizawl FC and a Kolkata derby.
Head coach Sanjoy Sen was suspended for four matches due to suspension and the Mariners also lost assistant coach Shankarlal Chakrabarti in their previous match.
Physical trainer Djair De Miranda Garcia who is taking over proceedings for the Lajong face off admitted it was a 'big' loss and to make matter worse, Haitian Sony Norde who has been one of their most important players will also miss the match too.
Host Shillong Lajong FC will be on their toes for this one as they have managed to regain their confidence back after that thrilling 3-1 win against the North East neighbours, Aizawl FC.
Fabio Henrique scored a brace and at the age of only 17 years Lajong academy lad Samuel Lalmuanpuia scored his first I-League goal for the Reds in last Friday's North East Derby.
Thangboi Singto who has managed to rally his troops through that North East derby match will be looking to capitalise on Mohun Bagan's poor run lately, with the added absence of Sanjoy Sen and Shankarlal Chakrabati.
He said, "A new and big challenge awaits us tomorrow. The quality they possess is very good and the players are always fit and well looked after."
Shillong Lajong are sitting in 4th position in the league but only two points separate them and the bottom team and a win by any team can catapult them to a much higher position ahead of them.
On the absence of Sen, Singto said it won't make much of a difference as he expects the visitors to be well prepared for the match.
"The coach only works in the training pitch but it is the players who will have to carry it out on the field," Singto said
Mohun Bagan Physical trainer Garcia though felt it differently. He said, "I have to repeat the same words, it is a very tough match and will be very difficult for us."
"My team are mentally and psychologically prepared for this game, a game which could kill us or make us survive," he said.
The Kolkata side are on top of the table with 25 points from 13 games but their defeat against East Bengal have just allowed their cross city rivals to get back in contention for the title along with Bengaluru FC who are on equal points but with a game still to play.
The fight at the top is a three horse race and this match will more or less decide the fate of The Mariners.
Shillong Lajong's Penn Orji who will take the captain's armband in Aibor Khongjee's abscence is aware that at this stage every point counts and the team needs to make the most out of these opportunities.