Salgaocar-Lajong clash in Fed Cup semi-final

With Edeh Chidi and Ryuji Sueoka in impressive form, Salgaocar will have an edge over Lajong FC, even as the team from the Northeast has nothing to lose. With group A boasting of record 13 times champions Mohun Bagan, Goan heavyweights Churchill Brothers and impressive debutants Royal Wahingdoh, the Shillong outfit was never considered among the favourites.

While Mohun Bagan were dumped out of the tournament following two back-to-back losses, Churchill's campaign was derailed by Royal Wahingdoh. But the Pradyum Reddy-coached side, promoted to play the upcoming I-League, overcame all odds to emerge group toppers, which saw Royal Wahingdoh making a shock exit despite an impressive outing.

After completing their league stage in Pune, it will be a different ball game for both the teams in the hot and humid Kolkata and the artificial turf at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
In fact, Reddy has voiced his concern about the hectic scheduling. "We have played three matches in five days and then travelled all the way here to play on a completely new surface. It will definitely break the rhythm," Reddy said.

So far so good for Lajong, the coach said, "We have come this far and from here on everything will be bonus. Our main aim is I-League and this tournament has given us a perfect build-up to the marathon tournament (beginning October 22)."

He however felt sorry for another northeast side Wahingdoh who missed the semis berth at the expense of Lajong despite finishing on six points. "It's sheer bad luck that they were clubbed with us. They did very well but could not make the last four."

Lajong will bank on former Liberian captain John Menyongar who has scored two goals in three matches, while James Giblee, too, will be one of their key players. Salgaocar, understandably, are not taking Lajong lightly.

Coach Karim Bencherifa said, "They are a competitive side. They have good, athletic players." A familiar face in Maidan, the former Bagan coach will bank on Chidi and Sueoka who represented the same team last season.

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