Shillong Lajong is all set to play their ninth season of the I-League this year as they take on Aizawl FC at home on October 28. Interestingly, the Reds had decided to field only Northeast players in their team and will not be taking services of any foreign players in the 2018 season of the Hero I-League.
Lajong will join 10 other teams to fight for the top division I-League title. Like last season, three teams from the Northeast – Lajong, Aizawl and Neroca – will play at the country’s top tier competition.
The other teams include title holders Minerva Punjab FC, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Chennai City, Gokulam Kerala FC, 2nd division champions Real Kashmir FC, AIFF development team Indian Arrows and Churchill Brothers.
Interestingly, Shillong Lajong’s I-league squad for this season will comprise of the youngsters who are currently playing the Shillong Premier League. These boys ended the league stage at the top of the SPL table with 26 points and will be playing the finals against Langsning FC.
In the previous season of the I-League, Shillong Lajong finished in the 6th position with 22 points. As many as eight players made their I-League debuts last season namely, Samuel Kynshi, Allen Lyngdoh, Kynsailang Khongsit, Lalrohlua, Phurba Lachenpa, Sheen Sohktung, Kenstar Kharshong and Rakesh Pradhan.
Lajong Academy product, Samuel Lyngdoh Kynshi scored his first I-League goal thereby becoming the youngest Khasi player from Meghalaya to score in the I-League.
Lajong’s first game of the new 2018-19 season will be against Northeast rivals Aizawl FC who finished one place ahead of Lajong in the previous season. Aizawl won the first leg of the derby by a 2-1 margin while Lajong won the second leg by the same score line. They netted 21 goals in total and conceded 18 during the season.
Samuel Lalmuanpuia will captain the Reds for the second consecutive season. Speaking ahead of the I-League opener, the 20-year-old forward said, “We need to work hard as a team and have a strong belief and determination.”
“It will be a tough season but we look forward to giving our best, get positive results and take one game at a time,” he added.
Speaking ahead of the start of the new season, coach Alison Kharsyntiew said, “It’s going to be a very exciting and a challenging season for me because we will field Northeast players only with no foreign players. We will be facing against tough teams in the league but we believe that our boys will give a good performance in every game, be strong, confident and motivated.”
“We have to be united and fight together as a team. We must take one game at a time and be focussed. We also need a good support from our fans and we hope they will turn up in huge numbers to watch the local players giving their hearts out in every match at the JN Stadium,” he added.
The Squad –
Phurba Tempa Lachenpa (Sikkim)
Neithovilie Chalieu (Nagaland)
Kynsailang Khongsit (Meghalaya)
Allen Camper Lyngdoh Nongbri (Meghalaya)
Novin Gurung (Sikkim)
Aibankupar Dohling (Meghalaya)
Habymmutshuh Nongrum (Meghalaya)
Kenstar Kharshong (Meghalaya)
Rakesh Pradhan (Assam)
Naoroibam Romen Singh (Manipur)
Hardy Cliff Nongbri (Meghalaya)
F. Lalrohlua (Mizoram)
Phrangki Buam (Meghalaya)
Freestar Kharbangar (Meghalaya)
Lalawmpuia Hnamte (Mizoram)
Samuel James Lyngdoh Kynshi (Meghalaya)
Bonison Nongmaithem (Manipur)
Samuela Lalmuanpuia (Mizoram)
Sheen Sohktung (Meghalaya)
Parvaj Bhuiya (Tripura)
Naorem Mahesh Singh (Manipur)