Shillong, April 26 (IANS) Shillong Lajong FC coach Thangboi Singto has asserted that his wards are determined to defeat title contenders Aizawl FC in the final game of their I-League campaign here on Sunday.
Aizawl are on the cusp of creating history as they need only a draw to become the first team from the northeast to win the country’s premier domestic club competition. They will also become the first team to win the I-League in their maiden season in the top division.
Aizawl are currently at the top of the I-League table with 36 points from 17 matches. Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan are at the second spot with 33 points.
Even if Mohun Bagan manage to beat Chennai City FC at home on Sunday, it will not be enough to match Aizawl’s points tally if the Mizoram club manage to earn a draw against fellow north-eastern out Shillong Lajong at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.
Singto, however, said his team plans to make Aizawl’s road to the title as tough as possible.
“We are looking forward to giving Aizawl FC a tough fight. They have not won the title as yet but we will not let Aizawl FC walk in and take away the title.
“They haven’t won the title as yet and we won’t let them win it easily. It will be a very tightly contested clash between both the teams,” he was quoted as saying by the official website of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday.
“It’s the northeast derby — our match against Aizawl FC and we are gearing up in that fashion. We know what Aizawl FC have a lot at stake and we plan to make it even more difficult for them.”
With both Mohun Bagan and Aizawl taking to the field for their respective matches at the same time on Sunday evening, Singto said this year’s I-League is all set for a thrilling finish.
“It will be a treat for the neutrals and for every football fan in India. The fans will have to keep one eye for on Mohun Bagan’s match and one eye on the northeast derby,” he said.
“It is as exciting as it gets — the perfect climax for the 10th I-League,” he added.
Praising Aizawl’s performance this season, the Lajong coach said: “Aizawl FC have been extremely consistent this season and have done exceedingly well. That is why there are on the top of the Hero I-League at the moment.”
“They (Aizawl FC) have displayed good attacking Football but their ability to play as a Team has been the striking feature.”
While Aizawl have been among the front-runners for the title all season, Lajong have been no pushovers either.
They are current fifth in the league table with 25 points from 17 matches and a victory over Aizawl may see them finish above defending champions Bengaluru FC who are currently placed fourth.
Singto said the success of Aizawl and Lajong proves that clubs from the north-eastern states — for long the main source of footballing talent in India — have now started to become a powerhouse in their own right.
“The northeast has been the footballing hub of India for long. But now, you can see there has been a shift of power from the traditional Indian clubs to a club from the northeast,” he said.
“It only proves that there is an overall development in Indian football.”