In its 25th year, Shillong’s Lajong FC general-secretary Larsing Ming Sawyan told HT that qualification for the I-League was not an end in itself. Sawyan, also an AIFF executive committee member, spoke to HT about the club’s plans.
How important was it for a team from the Northeast to have qualified for the I-League?
With the amount of talent we have, it should have happened much earlier but better late than never.
Your target this I-League?
We have a long-term vision but first we want to consolidate our position in the I-League. Except Mumbai FC and Chirag United, no other promoted club could stay in the top tier. We are aware of that. At the same time, we are here to challenge the best.
Lajong in khasi means ‘our own’. How much of that is reflected in your team?
It all started when an outside team thrashed a local Shillong team. A group of friends decided to do whatever possible to reverse our fortunes. Lajong FC was established in 1983 and since then our main objective has been to harness the potential of the Northeast states.
What kind of atmosphere is expected in your home matches?
Matches will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where the turf is currently being renovated. The capacity is 30,000 and I can assure you besides the Kolkata derby, matches in Shillong will be the only ones in the I-League attracting the largest number of spectators.
In the Federation Cup, Oil India fielded a team with players from Northeast. Would you go along those lines?
Oil India were one of the strongest teams that we have faced. But we are keeping our options open, foreigners included, and will come up with a balanced line-up by month-end.