Indian Football Season 2017-18 Review: Shillong Lajong
Written by: Manas Pratim Kashyap
Going through a period of transition the Reds endured a difficult season but managed a respectable finish.
While the owners had gathered the riches by letting go of previous first team players to ISL clubs, the new lot couldn’t help the Reds to better their performance in the recently concluded season. Yes, it was another disappointing season for the ‘Khasis’ Own’ love. There were sparks of individual brilliance on display, but the relatively young and inexperienced Lajong side could not forge together a strong camaraderie and stumbled on their path only to finish as the 6th best team in the I-League.
Football clubs, in general, look to promote the cream of the crop from the youth squads into the experienced first team, but Shillong Lajong FC has always been an exception to this theory. With massive outflow of youth talents year after year, it is no wonder why Shillong Lajong FC can be fairly termed as the Southampton of Indian football.
In the inaugural Super Cup, I-League clubs sent shockwaves by upstaging financially sound ISL rivals in the qualifiers. Shillong Lajong too followed suit as they came from 0-2 down to stun ISL semifinalists FC Pune City 3-2. However they lost territory to fellow I-League opponents Mohun Bagan in the quarter finals by 3-1 and drew down curtains to an average season.
Fact Sheet for Season 2017-18
Season Finished: 6th
Games Played: 20
Win %: 35%
For preseason preparations, the Reds primarily focused on the Shillong Premier League(SPL) 2017. After finishing the league stage in 3rd position, Lajong overcame the Eliminator battle and was due to play Langsning FC in the 2nd Qualifier. However their I-League commitments meant they had to forfeit their match against the eventual SPL winners.
Underperformer of the Season
For Assam boy Alen Deory, it was a rather disappointing campaign. The winger started i fine fashion; his solitary goal earned Lajong a win at home in the season opener against debutants Gokulam Kerala. But, in the matches that followed, he didn’t quite manage to live up to expectations, as his form took a dip. In 12 appearances, he scored only once.
Top 3 Performances
1. Shillong Lajong 2-0 Churchill Brothers SC (Report and Match Highlights)
2. Aizawl FC 0-1 Shillong Lajong FC (Report and Match Highlights)
3. NEROCA FC 0-2 Shillong Lajong FC (Report and Match Highlights)
Manager's Report Card
Analyzing about how the coaches fared, with all fairness it must be said that Alison Kharsyntiew tried and tested all the tricks up his sleeves. The interim head coach guided his budding talents very well but lacked the experience of proper seasoned campaigners to help the club finish in the top half. As Lajong often does, it was quite youthful squad filled with some great overseas recruits, average squad age being not more than 21-22. Former youth coach Bobby Nongbet also assisted the Lajong side on a few occasions. However, Shillong Lajong didn’t show enough promise and determination against their rivals.
Lessons to be learnt
Undoubtedly, Shillong Lajong are a pool of seemless talents that are bursting out on the scene every season. The young guns gave their all on the pitch for the Reds this time too. With the raw pace, endless-energy and agility, every game was a fresh start for them, it seemed and rightly so.
But, the team management must bring in experienced and seasoned campaigners, if they aim to have a shot at glory. The people of Meghalaya and all of North East wholeheartedly want the initial torchbearers of football from this region to succeed on the big stage sooner than later.
Published: Mon Apr 16, 2018 01:14 PM IST