I-League: East Bengal look to go top with win over Lajong (Preview)

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Shillong, March 4 (IANS) East Bengal will look to go top of the table and sharpen their chances of winning the I-League when they take on Shillong Lajong, who will be playing their final I-League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday.

East Bengal are now placed fourth with 29 points from 16 games, three adrift of surprise leaders Minerva Punjab FC who lost in their last engagement to Chennai City FC 1-2.

All three of Minerva (32 points), second-placed Neroca FC (31 points), third-placed Mohun Bagan (30 points) have played a game more than East Bengal who will have another chance to end their 14-year drought after Lajong tie.

East Bengal will take on Neroca in a potential title-deciding clash on March 8 in Kolkata.

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East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil said, “We will be playing freely in tomorrow’s match. We are under no pressure whatsoever.”

Asked about what are their plans for this match particularly, Jamil said, “We are not thinking about the points or our position in the standings. We are only focusing on the game and we are going to go all out for the win.”

“Lajong is a very good team and they will be under less pressure tomorrow as they have nothing to lose since they are out of the league contention. They will also be playing on their home ground which is an advantage,” said Jamil.

“We are focusing only on the game. We will be playing with the same team but the starting XI will be finalised on Monday”, Jamil added.

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Meanwhile Lajong, fresh from beating reigning champions Aizawl FC in their previous match, will aim to end their season on a high note as they will be hoping to carry their winning momentum on Monday.

Lajong assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew said: “East Bengal are a very good side. This is our last game and we will try our best to be in the top five.”

“We have had a good break following our previous match and it has been good for the team. They are now fresh and renewed and ready for tomorrow’s game.”

On being asked if he was happy with the team’s performance this season, Kharsyntiew replied, “I am happy with how the team has played but I’m not satisfied. The results could have been better.”

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“Right now, the Super Cup is coming up but we are not thinking about that too much. We need to concentrate on what is in front of us. We need to concentrate on tomorrow’s game as it is a must-win game for us. We need to win tomorrow and we need to focus,” said Kharsyntiew.

–IANS

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