BY AYUSH SRIVASTAVA Follow @ayush_sri on twitter
Rangdajied United FC
Last season’s performance:(I-League division 2 champions) - Rangdajied surprised many by winning the I-League second division crown, to qualify for the top division this season.
Having been regular contenders in their early avatar as Ar Hima, they just about made the final stage by finishing second in their Group, ahead of Pune-based DSK Shivajians.
In the final stages though, they improved markedly, and upstaged more fancied sides like Bhawanipore and Mumbai Tigers to win promotion.
| THE COACH
Santosh Kashyap had a slightly topsy-turvy season last time round, but came out of it with his reputation enhanced, as he guided ONGC from the relegation zone to an eventual mid-table finish, doing much better than expected.
However the campaign started poorly for him, when he was sacked by Mohun Bagan, just a couple of games into his reign. While the sacking could be termed as unfair on the coach, he bounced back brilliantly with the Mumbai based side, moulding a bunch of largely unknown players into a great unit.
Most of the players have borne the rewards of working under him last season, picking up good contracts. Kashyap himself though, was linked to a couple of jobs in Goa and Kolkata, but since none of the offers materialized, he eventually had to settle for another challenge with a limited budget side, in the form of Rangdajied.
| TRANSFER DEALINGS
TRANSFERS IN: Hamstrung by a limited budget, star quality has been tough to find for the Shillong based side. However Eugeneson Lyngdoh has returned to his family club, having spent the last couple of seasons with Shillong Lajong, where he showed plenty of promise, playing across the midfield.
Among other players with I-League experience are the former Air India duo of Pratik Choudhari and Sandesh Gadkari, both of whom flourished under Kashyap for the Airmen.
I-League winner Tamba joins the side
Among the foreigners, Lamine Tamba, who won the league with Churchill Brothers last season, has joined the club, bringing plenty of I-League experience with him. Tamba knows Kashyap from his Mahindra United days as the latter was the coach of their u-19 side. His former Pune FC team-mate, Edmar Figueira adds quality upfront. The fans will definitely be hoping that he shows the same form that made him a fan favourite with the Red Lizards.
Left winger Yohei Iwasaki has also joined the club, with the Japanese having spent a long part of his career in South America. He will expected to provide the width and pace to this side, while the club is reportedly in talks with a DPR Korean national team striker, to fill-up their quota of foreigners.TRANSFERS OUT: Most of the Indian players, who made it though from last season, have been retained. Amongst the foreigners, the biggest omission is Badmus Babatunde, whose goals really helped the team in winning the league.
Ho Jun Shin was earlier set to stay with the club, but eventually some visa issues meant that the player has now been released.
|FORMATION AND TACTICS
Kashyap is a very flexible manager tactically, and often can be seen resorting to a three man backline, to offer some steel to his side.
However, it is being speculated that he would start with a 4-4-2 this season, with his trusted lieutenants Pratik Chaudhari and Lamine Tamba at the heart of his defense.
Largely a coach who sets his team up for the counter-attack, the presence of physical players like Gadkari and Figueira upfront should help, with the Brazilian also being very gifted with the ball at his feet.
Lyngdoh, one of the more under-rated players in the I-League, can be expected to add some pace and passing ability to the side, though it remains to be seen, where he plays.
Iwasaki is likely to start as a left-winger, though he might even play off the striker.
Man to Watch - Edmar Figueira
Figueira is back in the I-League after a couple of years, which saw him move to Portugal’s top division, but he moved on to Romania without making a single league appearance. After a stop in Syria, he is back in the league where he became a fan favourite with Pune FC, scoring crucial goals and showing plenty of Samba magic.
He has been injury prone in recent times, and it remains to be seen, if he is the same player, as he was for the Red Lizards. But being on a shoe-string budget, Rangdajied will be relying on him to fire the goals that will take them to safety.
With plenty to prove for both, the club and the striker, this seems like a match made in heaven.
| SEASON'S TARGET
The Shillong-based club would of course love to win the bragging rights of the city, by finishing above their local rivals Lajong, and perhaps doing well in both the derby games.
With a coach like Kashyap at the helm, it cannot be ruled out.
However, their immediate priority will surely be to avoid relegation, and keep their spot in the I-League. Having not spent heavily during the transfer window, it would surely be a miracle if they manage to finish in the top ten, but having done the same with ONGC FC last season, Kashyap will be confident of doing the same this time round too.
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