I-League: Lajong, Gokulam gear up to salvage pride (Preview)

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Shillong, Feb 21 (IANS) In what could be a battle to grace the relegation and finish as high as possible in the I-League table, Shillong Lajong FC will take on Gokulam Kerala at the JLN Nehru Stadium, here on Friday.

Both teams are looking to get out of the relegation zone. In their only encounter against Gokulam Kerala FC this season, Shillong had to face a 2-3 loss at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Calicut.

Kerala who would have the odds to their favour having defeated Shillong Lajong FC earlier would look to capitalise on this psychological advantage to walk away with all the three points again.

The hosts would also look to grab three points to somehow reduce the relegation pressure. Shillong are placed at the bottom of the I-League table with 10 points from 17 games. What also adds to Shillong’s concern is the defence line that has conceded 48 goals so far.

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Kerala are placed just above Shillong in the points table with a three-point cushion. Kerala’s performance has seen some positive change since appointment of their new technical director Gift Raikhan.

The visitors are placed 10th with 13 points playing one game fewer.

On the eve of the tie, Raikhan said, “It’s important for Gokulam to get the 3 points. Prestige and dream are high as we are fighting for relegation. We as well as Lajong are at the bottom so it’s important for both the teams. we will give our best tomorrow. This is my fifth match, as a coach, I always prepare for winning the game, rest is on God.”

“Football is all about who plays better, not about Indian or foreign players”, he remarked.

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Shillong’s major concern has been the finishing capability in the final third. But the young Red Devils are known for fighting spirit and creative ball play, an area where Gokulam Kerala would want to pay a lot of attention.

The combination of Ktboklang Pale, Phrangki Buam and Mahesh Singh Naorem has been threatening for every team that they have played against, and given the situation, they can change the scenario on their day.

At the pre-match press conference, coach Alison said, “It’s all about preparing ourselves mentally and play well tomorrow. At the end of the 90 minutes, the best team wins. Our boys will hopefully play well tomorrow and get three points. They have to concentrate and be mentally prepared.”

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While Gokulam Kerala’s armoury also comprises Marcus Joseph, striker from Trinidad and Tobago, who scored in the previous game against Indian Arrows, and has scored three goals in five games so far.

The local talent Suhair VP and Rajesh who scored in their 3-2 win against Shillong Lajong in their last encounter will also add the extra might in the Keralite outfit’s dressing room.

–IANS

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