THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Shillong Lajong qualify for U-19 I-League Final Round

U-19 I-League: Shillong Lajong FC v Royal Wahingdoh FC

U-19 I-League: Shillong Lajong FC v Royal Wahingdoh FC

The Junior Reds displayed a brilliant performance to beat Royal Wahingdoh FC 2-0 and have qualified from the North-East Zone for the U-19 I-League final phase, in what was a nerve wrecking encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Tuesday.

With this win, the Lajong boys have remained unbeaten in the League and although they have qualified for the final phase they still have one more game to be played against Green Valley SC next week.

Both teams understandably started the first half all guns blazing with the intention was to grab all three points. A win for the Reds would secure their place in the final round of the tournament whilst a win for Royal Wahingdoh FC would mean the winner of the North-East zone had to be decided in the final matches next week.

The first chance for the Reds came in the 9th minute when Zodingliana took a wonderful shot from just outside the box but it went straight to the keeper’s arms. Just two minutes later, Royal Wahingdoh were given a free-kick but they could not convert their chance as the shot went wide. Rupert Nongrum also got an opportunity on goal but failed to give the Reds, the lead in the 20th minute.

In the 33rd minute Bipin Singh who received a good pass, made a superb run up but his shot could not get past the Wahingdoh custodian as he made a good save to deny Lajong the lead. The closing stages of the first half saw both teams going all out for that elusive lead but both sides went into the break all square. The first-half was indeed a thrilling contest and the supporters who showed up to support their favourite teams knew that the second session would definitely be a cracker.

The second half was a much more competitive contest as both sides were eager to break the deadlock and started to create a lot of chances with some great football displayed by both the teams.

As Lajong started to dominate possession, in the 51st minute, Lalramuanna lobbed a pass to Rupert Nongrum who made a good run inside the box and as he made a shot at goal, the ball hit the hand of the Royal Wahingdoh defender and hence the Reds were rightfully awarded a penalty. It was Nim Dorjee Tamang who stepped up and converted the penalty in the 52nd minute and gave Lajong the much deserved lead.

From then on pressure was mounting on both sides as Royal Wahingdoh were going all out for the equaliser and the Lajong Juniors were on the defensive. They also had some chances in their kitty but unfortunately Coach Bobby Nongbet’s boys were denied all their attempts on goal as it was difficult to get past the Lajong backline with some superb keeping from the Lajong custodian, Nihal Das.

The “Never Say Die Spirit” of the boys in Red was evident and they continued to fashion whatever chances was given to them and doubled their lead in the 81st minute when Hardy headed the ball from a good corner kick taken by Zodingliana.

Mr. Synnah who was the referee for today’s match blew the final whistle and the win confirms Lajong’s passage to the final phase of the Under-19 I-League after having qualified from the North-East Zone. The young Lajong boys have worked immensely hard along with their Coach Alison Kharsyntiew, Team Manager Sambha Shallam and Team Physio Iaoolangica Passah. They remain at the top spot with 15 points and will hope to carry their good run of form to Jamshedpur for the final round of the Under19 I-League Tournament.