Shillong, Feb 17 (IANS) Leaders of the 12th Hero I-League, Chennai City FC will take on bottom-placed and relegation-threatened home side Shillong Lajong, here on Monday.
The visitors will be aiming for a first title triumph whereas Shillong, after being in the top-tier league for a long time, face the ignominy of relegation.
The gulf in class reflects aptly in the key numbers going into the game. Both have played 16 games. While Chennai are top with 34 points, Shillong have lost a dozen games to garner just 10 points so far.
Chennai have also scored the highest number of goals (36) in the league, while Shillong has conceded the most (44 goals) thus far in the campaign.
In fact, in the first leg fixture between the two sides, Chennai inflicted a 6-1 tennis scoreline against Shillong and it remains to be seen how much that plays on Allison Kharsyntiew’s young side on Monday.
After going down 0-5 in their previous game against East Bengal, the coach indicated that it was going to be a huge mountain to climb for them on Monday. “We were not able to create any chances and defending as a team was not up to the mark. For us every game is different. Hopefully, we will play well tomorrow as it’s our home match,” he said at the pre-match interaction.
“Chennai City are a good team, their attack is good. It’s important not to concede any goal. We are working on our defence for tomorrow’s match and hoping to get some points. It’s a difficult game for us tomorrow,” Kharsyntiew said.
For Chennai, they would just need to guard against complacency, if at all they ever do. Their Spanish attacking force, comprising Pedro Manzi, Nestor Jesus and Sandro, is lethal and has scored 28 goals. Manzi has scored four hat-tricks in the league.
Singaporean coach Akbar Nawas sounded optimistic on match-eve. “We have come early and are training. It was a good learning experience in the second half against Neroca,” he said.
“Foreign players are always willing to help local players. It’s good for the team. There is definitely pressure of winning, but we are looking forward one game at a time and then go for the title. Every game is different and we will play to win tomorrow,” he continued.