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Lajong fan base, passion for football in NE drives Orji

‘Reds are a balanced side…ISL a motivation for I-League’

By Nabarun Goswami

SHILLONG: A name of repute in Indian football circles, Penn Orji is all set to don the Shillong Lajong FC jersey when the Reds take on Mumbai FC in their second Hero I-League home match at the JN Stadium here on Sunday.
An exciting midfielder who made his debut for JCT in 2009, the 23-year-old Nigeria born Penn was a regular face of East Bengal from 2010-2013. He played for Mohammedan Sporting Club in the I-League in the 2013-14 season. He also captained the Kerala Blasters side in the first season of the famed Indian Super League.
For Orji, the wide fan base of Lajong and the passion for football that thrives in this part of the world were among the two most important factors that drove him towards what arguably is North East’s premier football club.
“Every player wants to play with lot of fans behind him…they lift the morale of the side. So it was a major factor apart from the history of the club and the flexibility of the contract offered that made me join Lajong,” Orji told The Shillong Times here on Friday.
Having played for four different clubs, adjustment comes naturally to Orji who feels at ease in Indian conditions and the way the game is played in the country.
The Nigerian, thus, is confident that he would fit well into Lajong’s scheme of things.
The former East Bengal midfielder said his top priority at the moment was to establish himself in the team and “deliver good performances to give the fans what they want and most importantly win trophies.”
He was also confident of doing more.
“I have always brought something new to each club I have played for and I hope to do the same here,” he said.
Eager to make his debut for the Reds, Orji said that Lajong’s greatest strength was the number of young players it had at its disposal, all of whom have been groomed well and are ready for the biggest stage. He quickly added that with the coming of the foreigners, Lajong, on Sunday, will be a more balanced and experienced side.
It may be mentioned that “young Lajong side” suffered a loss at the hands of Royal Wahingdoh FC in the first derby of the season on Sunday last.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Blasters skipper said that even though the ISL has emerged as the biggest football event in the country, the I-League only stands to gain from it.
“The ISL has set a higher benchmark for Indian football; it will be great for Indian football if I-League can close the gap (with ISL).
The I-League has to step-up to make football grow,” he observed.

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