I-League: Indian Arrows and Shillong Lajong look to start afresh
Indian Arrows, with many players from the FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign, as well as Shillong Lajong are searching for their best form in the ongoing I-League season.football Updated: Dec 25, 2017 19:46 IST
Two of the youngest teams in the top-flight will face off when Indian Arrows host Shillong Lajong in an I-League game at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Tuesday.
A developmental side floated by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Indian Arrows consists of the core of the India team that played at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Coached by Luis Norton de Matos, they began their I-League campaign with a shock 3-0 win over Chennai City, but haven’t been able to continue in the same vein since.
After losing to Minerva Punjab 0-2 and 0-1 home and away, they lost their first home game in Delhi 0-2 to newcomers Gokulam Kerala FC.
“We are really happy with how we have played so far. We are aware of Lajong. We are ready for them,” said assistant coach Floyd Pinto, who is in charge of the side with head coach Luis Norton de Matos currently out of town.
“We know Lajong lost their last game at home. We know they will be coming with all guns blazing, but we are ready,” Pinto told reporters here.
Stressing on the importance of U-19 players getting top-flight experience, Pinto said his side will not lose the hunger to try and win games.
Shillong Lajong, on the other hand, will be looking to put behind the disappointment of a 0-1 home loss to Manipur’s Neroca FC in the previous game.
After winning their first two home games of the season, Lajong, who boast of the second youngest squad in the league with an average age of 21, were thrashed 1-5 by East Bengal. However, the Bobby Nongbet-coached side earned a crucial away point against Mohun Bagan and won 1-0 in Aizawl before the loss to Neroca.
With the opportunity of moving up in the league standings, where Shillong Lajong are currently fourth with 10 points from six games, they are looking for all three points in Delhi.
“The Neroca game was a setback. We played very badly in the first half and then dominated the second half, but did not have enough luck,” Lajong head coach Bobby Nongbet said.
“We know Indian Arrows are a good team. We won’t underestimate them just because of their last few games.”
Speaking about injury concerns, Nongbet revealed that skipper Samuel Lalmuanpuia is unlikely to play.