Preview : Shillong Lajong vs Minerva Punjab
Shillong Lajong will play their first home match in this edition of the I-League when they take on newcomers Minerva Punjab at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Aizawl on Saturday.
Lajong are yet to open their points tally having played 3 matches in the I-League. They lost their last encounter against Aizawl FC and will be desperate to open their account on Saturday.
Debutants Minerva Punjab FC are also looking for their first victory in this edition of the I-League, having gathered just 1 point in 3 matches. They were steamrolled 4-0 by Mohun Bagan at Kolkata in their last encounter.
Lajong are languishing at the bottom of the table after three games, while debutants Minerva Punjab FC, despite an indifferent show, are two positions higher at 8th, thanks to their goalless draw against fellow debutants Chennai City in the opening encounter.
Travelling: Minerva travelled all the way from Kolkata to Shillong whereas Lajong have made the trip from Mizoram to Meghalaya. Minerva are yet to reach home as they have been playing away matches since round 1. Lajong will be enjoying home advantage for the first time in the I-League this season and will be desperate to make it count.
Team Morale: The morale is low in both the camps as they both have lost back to back matches. Both the teams are fairly inexperienced and it will be tough for the coaches to motivate the young lads.
Preparation For This Match: Lajong coach, Thangboi Singto, is eyeing nothing but three points in this match even though he admitted that the inexperience in the defence line did not help his side’s cause and the loopholes have to be sealed at the earliest. However, he believes that this will be a great opportunity for his youth side to show their mettle.
"The youth should grab this golden opportunity with both hands. A 20-year-old should be ready for the big games," he said.
Singto is happy to train in the comfort of their home stadium and has been working on Lajong's leaky defence.
On the other hand, Minerva coach, Surinder Singh had just two training sessions to work on his team. He is, however, confident that his young guns would bounce back.
“The scoreline tells only half the story. Our boys did well in the second half (against Bagan) and created several chances. The performance gives me confidence that we will fare well here,” he said.
Injury Concerns: Shillong Lajong have a couple of injury concerns with Zodingliana Ralte and Dan Ignat both nursing injuries. Minerva, on the other hand, have a relatively fit squad at their disposal.
Feverpitch's Prediction: Lajong 1-1 Minerva
The match will kick-off at 7.00 PM IST at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong and will be streamed live on i-league.org.