BY KAUSTAV BERA Follow @hopelessk on twitter
Royal Wahingdoh Football Club
Last season's performance: (Qualified from I-League Division II) - The Royals made the jump from I-League Division Two finishing winners with 17 points.
Nothing was decided till their last crunch encounter against Bhawanipore. While Bhawanipore would qualify with just a draw, the club from Shillong needed a win to secure promotion and win they did, which saw them grab a last ditch winner, three minutes before time to beat Bhawanipore 3-2 and end up top of the division.
| THE COACH
Santosh Kashyap was the man chosen to lead the Royals in their I-League sojourn after featuring as a manager for another Shillong side, Rangdajied United just last season before losing the job midway.
Kashyap is well known for his stints with Air India and ONGC whom he guided comfortably to a mid-table heaven without having the resources necessary for the feat. However, he failed miserably when he took over the reins of Kolkata giants, Mohun Bagan and the return to football will be a way to rejuvinate his coaching career.
The coach had a good showing in the Federation Cup where he accumulated a win and a draw against finalists Dempo and only went down narrowly to East Bengal and Sporting clube de Goa.
| TRANSFER DEALINGS
TRANSFERS OUT: Badmus Babatunde has been released by the club even after his goalscoring prowess in the I-League second division. Meanwhile goalkeeper, Kunzang Bhutia has left for rival club, Shillong Lajong FC.
|The Royals had a good run in the Federation Cup|
TRANSFERS IN: Densil Theobald has been roped in to be the midfield lynchpin while Kim Seng Yong is the other foreigner added to the squad, who had game-time for Rangdajied United. Defender Chhakchhuak Lallawmzuala and striker Nagen Tamang have joined from Shillong Lajong while Wailadami Passah has made the shift from Rangdajied United. Meanwhile, Ningthoujam Samananda has joined the side after signing up for Mumbai Tigers last season.
|FORMATION AND TACTICS
Santosh Kashyap seems to enjoy using a modified version of 3-4-2-1 as evidenced during the Federation Cup. Nikhil Bernard is the undisputed No. 1 after Kunzang Bhutia's departure. Meanwhile Nigerian Loveday Okechukwu who has been retained is all set to marshall the central defense in a 3-man system with Samananda and either of Kimkima or Passah slotting in beside him.
In a three man defense, the wingbacks are expected to do much of the running as they are equally important in attack and defense. Lalhmangaihsanga and Reagan Singh, both homegrown talent are the ones who are expected to start and do much of the shuttling.
While veteran Theobald is expected to bring all his experience into play for the important midfield anchor man position where he is expected to be the creative outlet for his side, he will be shielded by his midfield partner, 29 year old Marlangki Suting who is expected to carry the burden of defensive work.
The wide forwards are going to be the two lethal men, Satiyasen Singh and Jackichand Singh who both have a knack of popping up and getting that all elusive goal as they love cutting in from the wings.
While Bekay Bewar looks to retain his striker's position, Kim might play a part if Kashyap fields two strikers or asks him to work down the wings to link up with Bewar.
Man to Watch - Jackichand Singh
Jackichand Singh, who bagged three goals in the recently concluded Federation Cup is all set to be the man that the Shillong side will look up to.
Even though Bekay Bewar might eventually end up with playing as the main striker, the 22 year old will have a crucial part in his team's fortunes this season.
He gave an inkling of his immense talent early in the season, when he single-handedly took apart Mumbai FC, scoring two goals to give his team a victory in the opening Federation Cup encounter.
"It’s been a lot of hard work. But having said that I have not yet made a mark - there is a long way to come. We have just arrived on the I-League stage and I have to help my team to do well this season," he said when quizzed about the new season.
| SEASON'S TARGET
Kashyap when talking about the expectations for the season remained cautiously optimistic without setting any targets beforehand.
“We don’t want to put pressure on the boys. We will see how things shape up."
However he did promise to keep playing attacking football while also caring to garner the much needed results which are necessary to progress in the league.
If Kashyap can motivate his boys well they are surely in a run to save relegation and even finish comfortably mid-table especially with a youthful cohesion in the team.
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