The Kolkata-based outfit are currently fourth in the league table, while Kharsyntiew’s side is at the bottom.
East Bengal look to catch up ground to Chennai City FC and continue their march towards the I-League title when they face a resurgent Shillong Lajong side, on Thursday. The Red and Gold Brigaders have picked up their form at the right moment and will look to provide some love to their devoted fans on Valentine’s day. A win could take them into third place and three points behind the league leaders with one game in hand.
Both the gaffers met the media ahead of their encounter.
Alejandro Menendez seemed a confident man heading into the game and persisted upon taking things one at a time rather than dreaming of winning the title. He said, “We have to think positive and enjoy every game. The most important thing is that everybody in the team enjoys their game and tries to achieve success.”
Despite facing a Shillong Lajong side rocked at the bottom of the I-league, Menendez refused to take them lightly and had bright things to say about them. He explained, “I think two important aspects of Shillong Lajong is that they love to keep possession of the ball and are doing it well.
They put many players in the central zone and play several combinations of passes. Also, they have to very fast strikers and are good at counter attacks.”, he opined.
When questioned about East Bengal’s pacy, fluid system developed recently and how effectively that’ll be to win them games going forward, the Spaniard stated, “I think the pace of a match is always important. Now as we are advancing in the league, all the teams are playing with great speed, not only with the ball but also off the ball. You have to operate really fast.”
The Shillong Lajong manager reiterated his side needing to be defensively aware when asked about his approach towards tomorrow’s game. He said, “We have to defend well individually, but the main thing is that East Bengal have many good players, not only Jobby Justin. They have Enrique (Esqueda), Jaime Santos. So we have to mark them very well.”
However, Kharsyntiew remained positive at being able to get some points out of East Bengal, citing their recent impressive run. He explained, “We played Minerva Punjab away and won and then played Churchill Brothers at home and won again. I think those results gave us the belief that we can beat any team.
But to play against East Bengal it will be difficult. It’s because East Bengal are a big club with so many good players. Tomorrow, it will be a very good game and I hope the players do well and we get the three points.”
He pointed out how Shillong will not sit back to try and get a point but will continue playing their natural football to get all three points. Kharsyntiew opined, “Our main strength is teamwork. We have played well and scored many goals so I hope tomorrow my boys score goals and play well.
Our strategy is to play attacking football while banking on teamwork. If we can play as a team, we can beat any opposition.” he finished with.
Quess East Bengal
The Red and Gold Brigade do not have any major injuries at the moment and are looking forward to the game.
Shillong Lajong FC
The Reds also do not have any major injury concerns at the moment. However, tactical changes are expected from the Reds.
Quess East Bengal– Dagar (GK), Chullova, Acosta, Gomez, Kamalpreet, Laldanmawia, Lalrindika, Aidara, Santos, Enrique, Justin
Shillong Lajong FC– Lachenpa (GK), Gurung, Dohling, Rabha, Kharshong, Pradhan, Kynshi, Lalrohlua, Buam, Mahesh, Pale
The match will kick-off at 5 PM on Thursday at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. It will be broadcasted live on Star Sports, and streamed via Hotstar and Jio TV.