Fantastic feat, says Lajong's Rosario

“It was fantastic. It was history for North-East. This is the first time a club from North-East has entered the finals of the Federation Cup,” Rosario told PTI a day after defeating Churchill Brothers 1-0 en route to the finals in Guwahati.

The win is nothing short of a fairytale story for Lajong, who now are in contention for an AFC Cup appearance in their first year in the big league.

In their maiden I-League appearance earlier this year, the Shillong boys have stunned Sporting Clube de Goa and Air India.

Rosario said through the win, Lajong has proved that footballers in the North-East can do anything.

“Within five months of qualifying for the I-League, the boys have stunned many giants. Earlier in the cup, they had defeated Dempo. Their confidence is growing by the day,” the elated coach said.

Giving full credit to his ‘brave-heart’ young boys, he said the win would boost development of football in the region and motivate upcoming footballers and uplift their morale.

Asked whether he had expected the win, the coach said, “We knew Churchill was a strong side. They can score at will. We planned to counter-attack instead of being defensive as it would be the best tactic against the giants. It paid off. Also, some of the missed opportunities by the opponent proved to be lucky for us.”

Rosario’s success with low-profile teams has been remarkable. Before taking over Lajong, he had helped Salgaocar regain the I-League berth and was also instrumental in Army XI stunning bigger names in the Durand Cup in 2005.

Lajong secretary Larsing Ming Sawyan said, “More than 90 per cent of the boys in the team have, till a few months back, never even watched a live I-League match. It is definitely a great day for the football in North-East”.

However, the team’s coach was worried about the fact that five of his key players, including foreigners James Gbilee and Daniel Bidemi, would miss the finals due to double bookings.

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