I-League : Chennai City FC Host Shillong Lajong
Chennai City FC will be hosting highflying Shillong Lajong for the round ten Hero I-League encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Chennai on February 19, 2017.
The South Indian side have been on the up ever since their defeat to East Bengal in round seven. An overhauling in the management and then went on to notch four out of six points under the realm of V Soundararajan. Shillong Lajong, on the other hand, are sitting pretty at fourth on the table following a strong showing at home.
But the men from the hills of Meghalaya have struggled on the road and are yet to win away. Moreover, they are playing in humid Chennai which has almost foreign conditions when compared to Shillong.
Highlighting this, coach Thangboi Singto said, “Well, all these years in the I-League we have struggled on the road. It is difficult to pinpoint whether it is due to weather. I think it’s good we are playing in the late evening. But a good team is a good team regardless of the venue. We are trying to better our away performances. This (Chennai) is a new place for us. Hopefully, tomorrow we can play well.”
The Reds from Meghalaya are known to field more U-22 players than the stipulated quota of one. When queried regarding this, Singto explained their approach while also imploring the youngsters to make the most of their chances.
“We have always promoted youngsters. It didn’t start this year. We selected a bunch of youngsters 3-4 years back. They have more experience now and learnt a lot over the years in the I-League. The culmination of all this has helped them do well for the team. If you are given an opportunity in India’s top league, you need to take them. So I expect them to grab their chances well,” he said.
Though Shillong beat Chennai City at home earlier, Singto seemed a bit wary of the opposition who have been doing well of late. “If you look at Chennai City, they have a lot of experienced players like Dhanapal, Denson and of course, Edwin, Prasanth are all there. Also, the foreign strikers. It’s not easy to play in the first ever I-League campaign. It takes a lot of time and understanding to do well. They did not have a lot of time to prepare. “
“For us no game is easy. We are playing in a new place. We’re here to give a good account of ourselves,” he added.
Chennai City coach V Soundararajan cut a hopeful figure while assessing Shillong Lajong and commented, “Shillong Lajong are already a confident team. They defeated us earlier, though without our best players. Now, they have drawn with East Bengal. They are a tough team.”
He further said that he was happy with the way his team is shaping up and said that he might give a chance to a local youngster, Nanda.
“I want the team to rise to mid-table. Our players are more united and we have been practising well. Our system and positioning are different. So we are more confident. Nanda should start the game tomorrow,” he expressed.
Zodingliana Ralte is still out for Shillong Lajong while in what is a boost for the home team, Haroon Amiri and Karanjit Singh are fit.
Chennai City have the home advantage on Sunday and with Shillong Lajong not being the best of travellers, they could fancy their chances of continuing their positive run of results in the last two games. This match has all the makings of a tight contest.
Kickoff is at 07:00 PM tomorrow (February 19, 2017) and the match will be aired live on Ten 2.