I-League: Injury-plagued and old compatriots; Bengaluru Vrs. Lajong! The first match
Shillong, Jan 6: Bengaluru are looking for a solid start in the I-League and hopes to come on top on their fourth I-League clash with Shillong Lajong.
On the other hand, Lajong have rung in changes of their own, with three new signings.
Reigning I-League champions Bengaluru FC will look to make the most of their settled looking team when they start their title defence against Shillong Lajong at the Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.
But Bengaluru coach Albert Roca is not reading too much into it to. His team is up against a formidable team which did well in the last season and are aiming ever higher this season.
"We are going to be up against a very competitive team from what I have seen and it's important that we give 100% in every department in the pitch if we want to start our campaign on the right note," he told Bengaluru FC media.
Asked if Bengaluru's stunning run in the AFC Cup and the fact that they are reigning champions in the I-League puts pressure on his side, Roca begged to differ.
However, a host of injuries has dented their preparations for the season-opener. The champions will be without Rino Anto, Althuammawia Ralte, Keegan Pereira, Salam Ranjan Singh and Lalchhuanmawia.
This encounter could see Eugeneson Lyngdoh pitched yet again against the strong Lajong side and his skills will be put to the test against the refreshed away side
Lajong, newly-acquired striker Fabio Pena joins Cameroonian forward Aser Pierrick Dipanda, who turned out for DSK Shivajians last season, in the attack. The other two new acquisitions are midfielder Yuta Kinowaki and defender Dan Ignat who could come in mightly handy to outdo the current champions.