North East Derby Eclipses Even the Kolkata Derby

Sunday, 30 April 2017|Nilanjan Datta | AIFF Media
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Shillong Lajong FC owner Larsing Ming Sawyan says the match between Shillong Lajong FC and Aizawl FC “eclipses even the Kolkata Derby” as it’s by far one of the “most anticipated matches in Indian domestic Football history.” A day prior, Larsing says that his Club wants to end the 10th Hero I-League on a high garnering three points from the match.

In a freewheeling interview, he speaks at length about the mood in the Lajong Camp, the match being a “dream for any Footballer,” Lajong’s plan to play party-spoilers, smart Club management and much more. 

EXCERPTS:

What’s the mood in the Shillong Lajong FC camp?
We are taking this as the final match of the season. I feel this is the biggest match of the Hero I-League in many years as it’s going to be one of the most watched matches in the Indian domestic Footballing calendar.

How motivated are the boys?
They have been preparing for this day for the last five years, ie, from the time they have been training together. I hope and believe that come tomorrow (April 30, 2017) 7pm, they will prove themselves to the entire Country.

All eyes will stay glued on the match.
This is an epic match. This is a Derby and for a Footballer, it’s a dream match. In my opinion, it even eclipses the Kolkata Derby which is by far the biggest Football match in India. I can tell you this is one of the most anticipated matches ever to be played in India.

So Shillong Lajong are planning to play party spoilers?
We are definitely planning to end the League on a high and we are desperate to get the three points from the match. These boys have taken us to the highest ever finish that the Club has achieved. We want to end on a positive note.

What does Aizawl FCs march mean for North East Football?
It’s a huge achievement for a Club like Aizawl FC to reach where they have and it’s a clear testimony to the fact that the North East is now going to contribute much more to Indian Football. Aizawl FC’s success also highlights the fact that Mizoram has now finally come off age and it promises much for Indian Football.

Lajong over the years have operated on a show-string budget yet has been successful in making a mark. This time Aizawl FC’s philosophy has also stayed the same. Do you brand it as smart management?
Lajong’s biggest achievement has been to sustain itself for over a decade at the highest level. In sports, sustenance is the most important thing. Most significantly, we have been able to do so with a young team not only this year but almost all throughout. As far as Aizawl FC is concerned, to reach where they have is a monumental achievement and it points that North East is loaded with talent.

What does it signify?
I feel that till a decade back we had reached only the tip of the iceberg as far as identifying North Eastern talent is concerned. Today I feel that the pyramid is finally being unveiled and we are getting to the base of the real talent that defines North East.