I-League 2017: Shillong Lajong FC Squad Analysis- Can Bobby Nongbet's men break into top three?

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Goal analyses the squad that Shillong Lajong FC have compiled ahead of the upcoming I-League season...

The I-League 2017/18 kicks off on Saturday and as ten teams prepare for a new season of football extravaganza, Goal takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each team in their hunt for glory.

Next in line are Shillong Lajong FC, who will be looking to better their fifth position finish last season and try to break into top three. 

Shillong Lajong decided to snap relations with coach Thangboi Singto ending an eight-year-old association, first as an assistant coach and then as a head coach since 2012. He was replaced with Bobby Nongbet, who holds an AFC A License and has been an integral part of the youth development program at Lajong.

This is their seventh successive season in I-League and there has been a notable stagnancy in Lajong's performance as they continue their mid-table performances in I-League without being able to break into the top three. After Aizwal FC won I-League last season, even after debuting in the top tier later than Lajong, alarm bells started ringing in the Lajong hierarchy which forced them to sack Singto, release all foreigners of previous season and sign a fresh bunch to provide renewed impetus to the team.

This is how their squad looks like for I-League 2017/18:

Goalkeepers: Phurba Tempa Lachenpa, Neithovilie Chalieu and Nidhinlal Moolaka Veedu.

Defenders: Aibankupar Dohling, Kenstar Kharshong, Allen Lyngdoh, Kynsailang Khongsit, Rakesh Pradhan, Novin Gurung, Juho Oh and Laurence Doe

Midfielders: Hardycliff Nongbri, Redeem Tlang, Samuel James Lyngdoh Kynshi, Donboklang Lyngdoh, F. Lalrohlua, Daniel Odafin and Sr. Kagaly Anal

Forwards: Lalrammuana, Shaiborlang Kharpan, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Alen Deory, Abdoulaye Koffi and Aiman Saleh Al Hagri. 



Shillong Lajong was done signing their full quota of six foreigners back in August, and this time they are relying heavily on them to fire on all cylinders.

Ivorian Abdoulaye Koffi will be their target man this season. He was the top scorer in the Egyptian Second Division, scoring 26 goals in 44 appearances. He has also been the second highest goal scorer in the Oman Professional League for Al-Suwaiq in the 2015-16 season where he pierced the net 23 times from just 32 appearances. 

The defensive pairing of Oh Juho from the Republic of Korea and that of Liberian Laurence Doe will provided much stability at the back. Both of them have an wealth of experience playing for teams in top leagues in Oman, Mali and Cambodia. Juho has been a regular face in Korean football since 2008 and has gone on to represent U-18 and U-23 national teams.

Redeem Tlang, along with right winger from Yemen, Aiman Salah Al-Hagri, will inject pace in the wings and will look to pin down opposition wing backs with their blistering speed and weave tailor made crosses for Koffi. On these two players will rest the responsibility to execute Nongbet's gameplan.

Redeem Tlang Shillong Lajong FC East Bengal I-League


Although Lajong's starting XI looks impressive, their bench strength is not something to boast of. Most of the players are academy graduates and in the event of any injury to any starter, Nongbet's men will be troubled against the more professional outfits. 

Their three key players from the previous edition of I-League has left the club for greener pastures. Dipanda Dicka who was the top scorer in the 10th edition of I-League has joined Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan. Issac Vanmalsawma along with Yuto Kinowaki, who provided the much needed dynamism to Lajong midfield lat season, left the club for FC Pune City and Mohun Bagan respectively. Although Lajong have signed defensive midfielder Daniel Odafin, he remains untested in Indian football and would take some time to adapt to new conditions. 

Moreover, Bobby Nongbet will be managing a top tier side for the first time and although he has cleared the AFC A License, he is unproven at this stage. Managing a youth team is one thing and locking horns in the premier division with footballing giants is completely a different cup of tea. 

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Alen Deory's pace, ability to dribble past  defenders with accurate positioning sense in the attacking third makes him a promising prospect in Indian football. He has played for the India U23 team and will look to make use of every opportunity that comes his way in this I-League to make a stronger bid in front of national team manager Stephen Constantine. He has also played a key role in propelling Lajong to the semi-final of the Shillong Premier League this season.

Danger Man

30-year old striker Saihou Jagne, who holds dual citizenships of Gambia and Sweden, the experience of playing in India for Fateh Hyderabad, where he scored four goals in just five games. He is being touted as the successor of Dipanda Dicka, who scored goals galore last season. He has also represented the Sweden U-17 team and has been a member of the Gambia senior team as well.