How Shillong Lajong may lineup for the 2017/18 I-League season
This Red outfit from the capital of Meghalaya are ready for the brand new season of I-League football.
Shillong Lajong will look to build upon their performance last season. The Reds finished 5th in I-League last year, which is their best ever finish so far in the league history.
But things have changed a lot from the last year. A lot of players have left the club joining the ISL extravaganza, and due to which all I-league teams have suffered.
The Reds also parted with their long serving coach Thanboi Singto, who joined Kerala Blasters as their assistant manager. Former Royal Wahingdoh youth coach Bobby Nongbet has been handed the duty to continue the good work done by Singto. Alison Kharsyntiew who was Singto’s assistant last year will again assist Nongbet to know the side more closely.
Lajong did lose a lot of players but their foreign acquisitions have been decent enough, the highlanders did get hold of 25-year old forward Abdoulaye Koffi from Ivory Coast. The lanky forward has a decent work-rate and his capability to hold up play will definitely help Lajong this season. The Ivorian will have big boots to fill if he has to replace last year’s top scorer Dipanda Dicka, who left for Mohun Bagan this year.
The Reds will hand over defensive duties to 31-year old Liberian born Equatorial Guinea international Laurence Doe. Doe has represented Equatorial Guinea and has won major titles accross Africa. In the absence of homegrown defenders like Chinglensana Singh and former club captain Aiborlang Khongjee, Doe might become a vital cog in Lajong’s defense.
Another midfielder who has had impressive stints in Lebanon and all over Middle-East has joined the Reds is Daniel Odafin. Odafin is a defensive midfielder who will cover the backline and is alsoi capable of playing quick passing game.
Other foreigners include 31-year old, Saihou CH Jagne who has played for Fateh Hyderabad in the 2nd Division of I-League last year. Aiman Al-Hagri and Korean defender Oh Juho are also added to the Red’s roster.
Bobby Nongbet was named as their new manager and he will look to keep the team on a positive track and will hope to build on the good work done by Singto. Lajong’s most likely formation should be 4-2-3-1, Phurba Lachenpa who played as a backup for Vishal Kaith last season will now become their main man between the sticks. Foreign defensive partnership of Laurence Doe and Juho will provide solidity at the back and will allow young fullbacks like Rakesh Pradhan and Kynsai to go forward. The coach will look to play a double pivot with Odafin and Hardy Nongbri, Odafin will look to shield the backline and will also set up counter attacks and Nongbri will look to go forward and join the attack. Wingers Redeem and Samuela will provide width and are very pacy. Yemeni attacking midfielder, Aiman will look to connect attack with the midfielder and will have to support Koffi. Koffi will be an aerial threat and his goal scoring skills will decide Lajong’s fortune this year.
Lajong’s team looks good but inexperience in their lineup may haunt them in the latter stages of the league.Their coach might look to change the squad a bit and may look to play a traditional 4-4-2 formation, where he may allow Swedish-Gambian versatile forward, Saihou Jagne to partner with Koffi up front. Odafin may play in the heart of Lajong midfield with young midfielder Lalrammuana. Samuela and Redeem are likely to play regularly and Lajong’s defensive backup lacks experience so the backline should remain the same.
With a total transformation from last year, Lajong may struggle to replicate last season’s performance, as they have lost many experienced players and coach aswell. So it will be difficult for the Reds under a new coach, but we may never know what to expect from them as the highlanders are the surprise package this season.