It has been an amazing unbeaten away run spread over a month from debutants Real Kashmir, and they would love to carry that on with a win when they come up against Shillong Lajong on Saturday, January 19, 2019, at the JLN stadium in Shillong.
In the five games that Kashmir have been on the road over the last month, they have won two and drawn three to make them real contenders for a title in their debut season. They would like to get the job done against a ragged home team that has copped 10 defeats in their 10 league games so far and the slide seems irreversible.
To add to the hosts’ woes, after an initial slow start, the visitors have also found their scoring boots, netting 15, a trend which began with a 6-1 drubbing of their Saturday opponents in the first leg fixture at Srinagar about a month back.
The memories of that game will weigh heavy on the hosts, as will the record of the weakest defence in the league having conceded 36 times.
But Shillong can score and the fact that Phrangki Buam (4), a wonderful young talent among many in the young Shillong side, is the joint-second highest Indian goal scorer, along with Danmawia (4) in the league after Joby Justin (7).
Players like Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Sheen and Kitboklang have shown enough promise and can be dangerous on their day.
Shillong gaffer Allison Khasyntiew said in the pre-game chat, “My job is to encourage the young team. They are the future of the National Team and the North East. The mentality is good. Dealing with young players, my main job is to guide them correctly. Kashmir is a difficult team to play with, but in a game, anything can happen. Our team will give our best.”
They will, however, be up against the stingiest defence of the league. Kashmir have so far let in only seven and coach David Robertson has certainly put up a wall ahead of a confident and sound Bilal in the Kashmir goal.
Speaking on the match-day eve, the affable coach said, “Shillong Lajong is a very difficult side to play against even though we are in a good spot and have won a few matches. Lajong plays in the same way but we have to give our best tomorrow. We are enjoying the occasion and the players we have. Our team is ready to play. We do not get carried away by the wins but we always try to put up a better match.”
The visitors, who need the win to keep their title hopes on track, are weary as evident in the game against Aizawl last week and Shillong can be dangerous on their day.