Shillong Lajong face Dempo
Shillong: Shillong Lajong FC will lock horns with Dempo SC in their 10th home match of the ongoing I-League season at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, here tomorrow.
The Shillong outfit will only have three more matches to play in home conditions once the season resumes in February and need to make every one of them count after being a little lacking in some of their earlier local games.
Out of nine, Lajong have won just two, but that includes their last game, a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Salgaocar FC.
The Reds then travelled to Goa to beat Churchill Brothers 1-0 before suffering a monumental 5-1 defeat to second-placed Sporting Clube de Goa.
SLFC, who have played 14 matches, are in a commendable fourth place on 20 points and are safe for this week. They can neither overtake or be overtaken by any club on the results of this round.
Dempo, meanwhile, are in ninth spot, with 16 points from 14 games. They pulled away from 11th spot with a 1-0 win over Mohun Bagan last week and could move even higher with a victory over their hosts.
The Goans have already been to Shillong once this season, on October 4, when they let a 2-0 lead slip their grasp against Rangdajied United FC to draw two apiece.
Billy Mehmet was an intimidating presence on the pitch that day, while skipper Clifford Miranda was also impressive. Rangdajied, however, were simply inspired in their comeback, leaving Dempo little that they could do.
Lajong, meanwhile, will remember the first match of the season, when they surprised everyone by winning 3-0 at Dempo.
The Reds are suffering a few injuries, with Uilliams Souza Silva still an unlikely figure for tomorrow`s game. Captain Minchol Son and lead striker Cornell Glen were both not 100 per cent in the game against Sporting, their coach Thangboi Singto said after that match.
Lajong, however, do not have great strength in depth and may be required to use them again even if not optimally fit.
No one could have banked on Lajong beating Dempo in the opening game of the season, but with the I-League this year being as unpredictable as the weather, no one can know what lies in store when the two teams meet in Shillong come tomorrow evening.