AIFF Media Team
SHILLONG: East Bengal and Shillong Lajong FC will collide in the second semifinal of the ongoing 2017/18 U-18 Youth League on Thursday (May 24, 2018) evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong, slated to kick-off at 7 pm.
This clash promises to be an entertaining affair as both sides play an attacking brand of football and will be full of confidence after posting some impressive results during the group stage.
With three wins on the trot, Lajong are the only team to progress with the full nine available points compared to their opponent East Bengal who won all but one game, namely, a goalless draw against FC Pune City in their final Group B game.
However, many believe East Bengal went through a harder test in the group stage. The Red and Golds are battle-tested as they enter the semifinals beating strong teams like SAI Trivandrum and Minerva Punjab FC and yet to concede a goal.
Skipper Manoj Mohammad has been an immovable object at the heart of the East Bengal defence but he will have his hands full in dealing with the presence of Donboklang Lyngdoh. That battle will be a key to the outcome, as will Lalcchanhima’s with Lajong’s Kynsailang Khongsit and Naoroibam Romen Singh, who have had an equally impressive tournament.
Having qualified for their first U-18 Youth League semifinals, Lajong coach Bobby Nongbet is hoping to continue going where no Lajong side has gone before – the final.
Nongbet has indicated his pleasure with how the campaign has progressed thus far and will confidently come kick-off that his side will go out and do the business to keep their hopes for a maiden national title alive.
The players have received the message well and are excited by the opportunity presented in the match.
For East Bengal, the match marks their second appearance in the U-18 Youth League semifinals, and an opportunity to progress that technical director Ranjan Chowdhury does not want to waste as they attempt to reach their second consecutive final.
Chowdhury’s tenure has been one of progress for East Bengal, but perhaps there is no better proof than reaching the U-18 Youth League final twice in succession. Thursday evening is a chance for the progress that Chowdhury, his charges and East Bengal fans across the country desire.
The game will probably have a high tempo as both sides have a quick passing and ball controlling style of play as has been seen in their previous games. Each side will try to dominate in the midfield and control the game, but who will actually impose themselves more is still unknown.
These are arguably two best teams in the competition and much is at stake as the winner will be favoured to lift the trophy on Saturday.