The Reds manager is expecting a tough clash against newcomers Minerva Punjab…

It will be a litmus test for Thangboi Singto and his men when they take on debutants Minerva Punjab in an I-League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday.

Caught on the back foot after losing three matches in a row, Lajong have no choice but to turn it around in their favour to avoid dropping to a point of no return. It is the first home game of the season for the Reds and it’s high time they live up to the home crowd’s expectations.

In a pre-match conference on Friday, Lajong coach Singto admitted that away matches have been a concern for his young side which will have its task cut out against the visitors on Saturday.

“It’s a new season, a lot of changes in the side, new foreigners and youngsters. It will be a tough match tomorrow as Minerva are no pushovers and we will have to bring the best out of ourselves to make the home opportunity count,” the Lajong gaffer said.

Singto minced no words in stating that the inexperience in the defence did not help his team’s cause and the loopholes have to be sealed at the earliest.

Despite being fully supportive of Lajong’s focus on giving youth an opportunity in the I-League, Singto admitted that an additional number of experienced heads on the pitch would have come in handy for his outfit.

However, in the same breath, he reiterated that it was keeping this factor in mind that the side had roped in experienced foreigners in the form of Romanian Dan Ignat, Japanese Yuta Kinowaki and Cameroonian Aser Dipanda.

“Moreover, the youth should grab this golden opportunity with both hands. A 20-year-old should be ready for the big games,” he added.

Singto said he was also looking forward to a more coordinated effort from his forward line in the matches to come. Lajong have only scored once in the last three matches while they have conceded seven.