THEY FINISHED SIXTH LAST SEASON with four wins and six draws. All of their wins have come at home. Although they sit at the bottom of the table, Shillong are not perturbed about the standings. They have fielded a very young side in all of the three games, not deterred by who they were facing. With that approach, it is not a trial-and-error policy to test the waters before making the dive. Shillong have the confidence in their youth and we will see them slowly showing the maturity needed to fight back against stronger teams. The game against Aizawl FC gave the nation glimpses of what they are capable of. For a large part of the match, Lajong were making some creative moves that had them in the Aizawl box more often than not. They scored the opening goal of the game and were unfortunate to concede a scrappy goal in the last minute to lose the game.
Shillong Lajong Head Coach, Singto, at the pre-match press conference said,
“Even last season our away game results were not good. We garnered very few points.It's a new start this season. It will take time to build as a unit and to settle on our starting eleven.We knew that our first two games were going to be tough but I am really disappointed with the performance against Aizawl."
"There was very poor defending and that is because we have a lot of young defenders who lack that experience. Minerva has experience and good calibre players and it will be a tough game”, he said.
Minerva, are too a team that have started off with an academy years ago and move up the ranks to become a competitive football club playing professional football. They finished as runners up last season in the second division behind Dempo SC. As the Goan team pulled out from the I-League, Minerva got their chance to prove their talent at the top most league in the country. So far, is has not been going too well. There are with one point with the goalless draw against debutants Chennai City FC. Minerva Punjab are far away from reaching the level of competitive football in the I-League. The balance of youth and experience is right in the team. What is needed is to get their combinations and understanding working in the correct mixture.
Surinder Singh, Head Coach of Minerva Punjab FC, at the pre-match conference said,
“We have to work hard on defence in the coming matches. The boys are confident and we want to grab points from here. It's our fourth away game and that is very challenging.We are going to do better than the last game and you can expect good attacking football from both sides.”
About the two teams playing each other, Shillong with the youthful side that played so far coupled with the hard-working Kinowaki and sensible Dan Ignat, we will see them throw all they have on Minerva to get a comfortably win. Only be careful about the silly fouling by the some of the youth. For Minerva, this will be an opportunity to get settled in the new season and calm their nerves if they can patiently display some fluid passing and add great amount of solidity in the back line.