Table–toppers East Bengal will be up against Shillong Lajong in their I-League match in Shillong on Saturday in what will be one of rigorous tests of the season for them.
Lajong have won five of their last seven games and a victory over the Kolkata side tomorrow will, for the first time, set them up for a top four finish in the I-League.
The visitors, on the other hand, are looking to create history by winning their maiden I-League title and the Shillong outing assumes significance as far as fulfilling their league ambitions are concerned.
While the hosts come to the tie on the back of a 4-1 away win over Chennai City, East Bengal have completed their first-ever double over defending champions Bengaluru FC, thanks to their 3-1 win in Bengaluru.
Despite a dream run at home, Lajong head coach Thangboi Singto is aware of the challenge at store tomorrow and minced no words when he said that “the match against East Bengal will be our biggest test so far”.
“Till now we have beaten teams which are below us in the standings. To improve our position we have to beat sides which are ahead of us. So that way it’s a crucial match tomorrow,” Singto said in the pre-match conference.
The Lajong coach also lavished praise on the opponents stating that the Red and Golds are the most balanced side in the I-League this season and have a strong bench.
Singto, however, underlined that Lajong have a good record against East Bengal and the hosts can net full three points tomorrow.
Singto added that comeback man Aibor Khongjee will feature in the first 18 tomorrow.
Meanwhile, East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan stated that his boys will have their task cut out in Shillong.
Asserting that the table-toppers tag did not put any additional pressure on his side, Morgan said, “It’s all up to us. We know we are in a good position and we know what we need to do tomorrow. But nevertheless, we expect a very tough game.”
Replying to a query on East Bengal’s not-so-good track record against Lajong, Morgan said, “We can’t hide behind a bad track record. We can’t give excuses.”
The visiting coach said though every game was a must-win from here on, there will be a lot of twists and turns as the season progresses.
“There are still 21 points to play for and all we can do is what we can do,” he said, while replying to whether East Bengal were under pressure on account of their title ambitions.