The Reds will be one of two teams flying the flag for the northeast this season…
Last season’s performance: 6th
Shillong Lajong FC made their entry into the I-League during the 2009-10 season. Since then, it has been a rollercoaster ride for the Northeast’s football powerhouse. Regarded as one of the most inconsistent teams in the league Lajong finished in 6th spot in the last edition of the top flight. They could manage only four wins from 16 outings.
Thangboi SIngto, hailing from Surachandpur in Manipur joined Lajong in the year 2009. A key man in the club’s rise to the national football scene; SIngto was handed over the post of interim head coach after the sacking of Desmond Bulpin on 22nd January, 2013.
With his tremendous football wisdom, Singto was the assistant coach of NorthEast United FC during the inaugural season of Indian Super League under Ricki Herbert.
Singto has been with the club through thick and thin.
During his seven-year long association with one of India’s youngest clubs SIngto passed through Lajong’s difficult times as well as cherished moments.
With a 33% win ratio in a total of 43 matches so far under him, Lajong will look to their astute tactician to mastermind a successful campaign
Shillong Lajong have brought in a considerable amount of fresh blood as per the needs of head coach Singto and his standards to compete in the I-League. The Shillong based club have retained much persuaded talents at the club and have also been clearing out non-performing players to make way for incoming ones.
Retained: Brazilian striker Fabio Pena Henrique has also been retained by Lajong. The 26 year-old has made 14 appearances for the club scoring four goals and making an assist. Lajong have also retained many of their academy graduates to form the core of the team.
Transfers In: Shillong have secured the services of Japanese central midifleder Yuta Kinowaki from league rivals Aizwal FC. The 25 year-old has previous experience of playing in European countries like Latvia and Poland. Lajong have also brought Rocus Lamare back from Salgaocar. The veteran midfielder is a Lajong academy product and is the first Lajong player to play for the Indian national team. Centre-back Dan Ignat and forward Aser Dipanda Dika make up the other two foreingers in the squad.
Transfers Out: Lajong have let five players go in order to sign new faces. Nigerian midfielder Penn Orji, defender Robin Gurung, striker Boithang Haokip, captain Aiborlang Khongjee and Brazilian forward Uilliams Bomfim Souza have all left the club.
Formation and Tactics
Singto has always preferred an efficient approach and he will retain the same this season in what is intended to be a compact 4-2-3-1 formation.
Vishal Kaith is expected to start in goal along with a back four of Pritam, Sanna Singh, Ignat and Tamang. In midfield Zodlingana Ralte and Yuta will provide the screen in front of the back four. Bipin Singh and Isaac will flank Dika who will play in the hole behind Fabio who leads the line.
Man to Watch: Fabio Pena
It is difficult to see how the Reds can better their sixth place finish last season this time around, especially given the heavy spending of the clubs above them. However, with a host new faces coming into the top flight, they remain one of the division’s established teams. With a possible merger with the ISL next season being mooted, it is vital for them to have a solid campaign and reinforce their position in the league in the event of a shuffling of the pack next year.
Editorial by Khel Now’s Northeast Correspondent Himangshu Rajkhowa.