XtraTime News Desk: Mohun Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty implored his players to take tomorrow’s match as an opportunity to repay the fans who have supported them through thick and thins.
“I always say this to my players that Mohun Bagan is not only a club but an institution. Whoever dons the jersey should take pride in representing the club and we’d try our level best to repay the fans who support us through thick and thins”, Chakraborty said before the Mariners lock their horns with Shillong Lajong FC in the Hero Super Cup quarter-final at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar tomorrow (April 11, 2018).
Youngster Raynier Fernandes also retorted in a similar tone, “We get lots of support from the stands irrespective of wherever we’re playing. We’re looking forward to something similar tomorrow as well. It provides us with a much-needed mental boost and pushes us to give the extra bit of effort on the field.”
Lajong staged a spectacular upset story in their previous match where they overturned a two-goal deficit against FC Pune City to fix a date with Mohun Bagan in the quarter-final. Sankarlal Chakraborty reminded that I-League has gone into the history now and tomorrow’s match will be a new game against a redeemed Lajong.
“I-League is over. Although we have beaten them in Shillong, it’s history now. They have shown their capability against FC Pune City and we have seen how deadly they are, even in the 90th minute. Tomorrow is a new game and we are taking it very seriously.”
Meanwhile, he mentioned that a silly mistake might cause a huge dent in the title challenge, hence they’ll prefer to take a cautious and balanced approach from the kick-off rather going all-out in the attack.
“It’s a knock-out game tomorrow. We have to balance well between the defence and attack. We have to be quick enough to hurl a counter-attack from the defence, on the other hand, we have to fall back without any hesitation while the situation demands. One mistake can shatter the title dream completely.”
Shillong Lajong interim head coach Alison Kharsyntiew showed respect for his counterparts but stated that they have come here not just to participate but to win the tie and stage another upset, come what may.
“We believe in ourselves and that’s why we have come here. Yes, I remember that we were on the receiving end in I-League at our home. But tomorrow is a different game and we believe in our teamwork to get the mission accomplished once again. We accept the challenge.”
On being asked about Lajong’s fight-back policy that stole the show against FC Pune City, coach lauded the teamwork.
“I believe in teamwork. The cohesive force and the positive energy amongst the boys play the vital role. The synergy among Samuel, Koffi, Sheen and everyone else got the result for us against Pune.”
Meanwhile, the absence of Aibar and Hardy Cliff Nongbri might give the coach a headache before taking on the Mariners who are coming into the match after a 10-day gap with all the players available for the selection.
Sheen Sohktung who played an integral role in their scintillating 3-2 win in the Round of 16, spoke highly on their skipper Samuel Lalmuanpuia and tagged him as the “perfect captain material.”
“Samuel is a great personality, I must admit. He motivates us always and gives inspirational speeches off-the-field. When the team demands, he comes out big and that’s what we seek from a captain. He’s a perfect captain material you can say.”
He quipped, “I’m older than him, but he’s a great character and we have a lot to learn from the young fellow.”
He recalled their win against FC Pune City and reiterated what their coach said in the presser as well.
“For me, as gaffer said, the teamwork and hard work is the need of the hour and we showed our character the other night. We didn’t lose the hope after going 0-2 down and after scoring two quick goals, we started believing that a win is very much possible from here and finally, we sealed it in the dying minutes.”