An in-form NEROCA FC will take on Shillong Lajong in what promises to be a testing Hero I-League clash at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium on Wednesday (January 24, 2018).
NEROCA FC are on a nine-game unbeaten run and are placed second in the standings. Their opponents, Shillong Lajong however, have lost their last two games and have already succumbed to a 0-1 loss on these two sides’ last meeting in the league earlier.
“Everybody knows that we are doing good. May not be perfect, but we are doing good so far. In my opinion, we are having a good run,” said NEROCA FC head coach Gift Raikhan.
Goalkeeper Lalit Thapa is doubtful for the match against Lajong due to an injury. Shambu Mishtry stepped in between the sticks in their last game against Aizawl FC and the goalkeeper has the backing of his gaffer.
Not only have NEROCA’s only loss of the season come in their opening game against Minerva Punjab but the Raikhan-led side boast the best defensive record in Hero I-League this season, with just six goals conceded from 10 matches.
“Sambhu Mishtry is experienced playing in the I-League second division for a long time. You cannot keep on changing goalkeepers all the time in the I-League like I used to do (in the second division). He (Mishtry) got a chance because of Lalit’s injury and he was good against Aizawl. I hope he will prove that again in future,” said Raikhan.
Shillong Lajong’s assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew said that focus is the key to hold up against a strong NEROCA outfit.
“It’s going to be a very tough match because it’s NEROCA’s home match. They have been performing very well but we will give our best in the 90 minutes,” he stressed. “I believe in my team and I hope my players will give a good performance tomorrow. I believe that we can win.”
Lajong’s inability to convert the chances that they create have hurt them in their last few games. “Looking back at the past matches against NEROCA, Minerva (Punjab) and Churchill Brothers, we have not been clinical once we get inside the box. So that is one thing we are working on improving at the moment,” said Kharsyntiew.
It was Subash Singh’s 83rd-minute goal that separated these two sides when they met in December and the Shillong-based team will be looking to avenge that heartbreak by ending the unbeaten streak of their opponents on Wednesday.
Kick off is at 2:00 PM IST. The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 2/2 HD and streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV.