Despite all the adversities and a limited budget, one team has done exceptionally well in recent times. The losing finalist in 2009, Shillong Lajong Football Club, a club which was established with a goal to groom local talent and to provide a platform for the youngsters to better their life is proving out to be phenomena in the 33rd Federation Cup. At a time when some of the bigger names of Indian football will watch from home, Lajong, will be locking horns with current I-League Champions Salgaocar SC in the first semifinal to be played at the Salt Lake Stadium on September 25.
‘Lajong’ which itself translates into ‘our own’ in a local dialect, exemplifies the story of a region where there is no dearth of talent. It all started with Baichung Bhutia in the early nineties. Gunabir Singh, Kiran Khongshai, Renedy Singh, Tomba Singh, Surkumar Singh, Jeje Lalpeklua amongst others have followed Baichung since then. And the list is endless.
Pradhyum Reddy, Lajong’s Coach, in conversation with www.the-aiff.com said, “North East is the cradle of football in India. There is talent everywhere. Many teams from the region are doing well – be it Lajong, Royal Wahingdoh or United Sikkim Football Club – people are passionate about the game. The support of the people inspires us to perform better.”
“Players from this region form the backbone of any big team in India and even the National Team. Football is the No. 1 game in the region – people live, eat and sleep football.”
Lajong take on Salgaocar in the first semifinal on Sunday. “We are here to play and we do not categorise teams as a Big Team or a Smaller one. It would be very interesting to see where we stand” he added.
Shillong Lajong qualified to the semis from Group A where they pipped Royal Wahingdoh on Head-to-Head count and finished ahead of Mohun Bagan AC, Royal Wahingdoh and Churchill Brothers while Salgaocar emerged toppers in Group B.
The kick-off is slated for 6pm and the match would be telecast live on News Time, DD Sports and special coverage on Facebook.
(Edited AIFF Press Release)
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