Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Poor ground makes Lajong’s I-League berth uncertain

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AFC gives two months to improve JNSC ground, facilities

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: Local giants Shillong Lajong FC are likely to lose their place in the I-League main edition if the authorities failed to put in place the necessary facilities including the improvement the football pitch of the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex (JNSC).

The four-member Asian Football Confederation (AFC) team led by AFC Director of Competition, Tokuaki Suzuki, who has come for the inspection on Sunday has given two months time to the authorities to take necessary steps to improve the facilities and the ground condition in the JNSC.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, Suzuki expressed his dissatisfaction on the ground condition including the facilities in the JNSC.

He said the complex does not have in place a proper infrastructure which is necessary for live telecast of the matches held in the ground, there is no infrastructure for dope test, there is no medical room and also there is no separate VIP and press box.

“The present condition of the ground is not fit to hold any football matches. I am hopeful something would be done to improve the ground,” Suzuki said while adding that he was also informed that the Government is planning to lay an artificial turf in the complex.

He, however, expressed satisfaction on the ability of Shillong Lajong on their own to comply with all the criteria which have been laid down by the AFC.

I-League CEO, Sunando Dhar, who accompanied the AFC team, also expressed the hope for a drastic improvement in the condition of the ground in these coming two months.

“I would really want to see Shillong Lajong play in its home ground. This would allow the home fans to witness their favourite team playing in the I-League,” Dhar added.

As things look at present, there are very slim chances for Shillong Lajong to play in this year I-League.

The football pitch at the JNSC has continued to deteriorate with the Shillong Sports Association (SSA) presently holding its Under-19 league.

What was shocking to see SSA has been allowed to hold the under-19 local league matches in the JNSC despite Government commitment to preserve the Ground.

The SSA has got some political back up which has allowed the association to go against the sentiments of the people, sources alleged.

In fact, the SSA could have held the Under-19 league matches in its own ground like the First and Second Division Ground.

Going by the present condition of the ground it can be best compared to a paddy field.

Another factor which has contributed to the deteriorating condition of the ground is the politics between the SSA and MFA.

At one hand the MFA is totally committed of preserving the JNSC ground while on the other the SSA looks like is hell bent on destroying the ground.

When contacted, many of the senior State football players have also expressed their unhappiness for the decision of the State Government to allow the ground to be used for the local league.

Majority of them opined that the football turf at the complex should be preserved since this is the only ground which can host major football events in the State.

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