Shillong Lajong Team Profile for I-League 2016-17

Friday, 6 January 2017|Abhishek Mukherjee
Shillong Lajong silently went about their signings in the transfer market, making it up for the foreigners they have released but are short of suitable replacements for the domestic departs.

Shillong Lajong have been the most  unpredictable side in the I-League history. The North Eastern powerhouse have been largely inconsistent at the National level and have found themselves on the wrong end of the table most of the time. However, they have managed to stay afloat at the top tier and have continued to be the breeding ground of young talents in the North East.

Staying true to their philosophy of promoting youngsters, the Thangboi Singto coached side, will once again field a young squad with Rocus Lamare believed to be the senior most.

The team will be missing three of their most experienced players in Boithang Haokip, Robin Gurung and Aiborlang Khongjee, who all have moved on to other clubs, after their contract ran out at the end of last season.

Lajong have also parted ways with Nigerian Penn Orji, Brazilian forward Uilliams Bomfim Souza. They have retained a number of local talents from the last season, such as Samuel, Alen Deory, Sana Singh and Vishal Kaith. They have also added the likes of Romanian defender Dan Gelu Ignat, Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki and Cameroonian striker Aser Pierrick Dipanda to their ranks.

While Lajong will be Ignat’s first Indian club, Kinowaki is no stranger to the country or the North East, having played for Aizawl FC in 2015-16. Brazilian forward, Fabio Pena Henrique who scored four goals for the Club in the last I-League has been retained. Experienced midfielder, Rocus Lamare has been added to the team to add more horsepower to the engine of the side.

Among the foreign recruits, Lajong's best signing has been Aser Dipanda. Aser Dipanda played for DSK Shivajians in the I-League 2015-16 season where he scored 7 goals for the new club from Pune last year.

The club hardly had much time for pre-season due to the congested footballing fixture of India. Most of the teams had just two weeks of pre season preparations. This might just be a blessing in disguise for Lajong as most of their players did not get an ISL callup. Hence, they would not be fatigued like some of the players from other I-League clubs. Moreover, Lajong have managed to retain most of the young  players from last season which means the players won't require much time to adjust under Singto.

Lajong were champions of the Shillong Premier League 2016 and have won the pre season friendly match they played against Neroca FC in penalties.  

Best XI for 2016-17 Season [Expected 4-4-2] : Kaith, Shadap, Ignat, Sana, Ralte, Alen, Lamare, Yuta, Samuel, Pena, Dicka.

Best XI of 2015-16 season [4-4-2] : Kaith, Aibor, Yamagata, Sana, Robin, Alen, Boithang, Penn, Ralte, Pena, Ulliams.

Departures : Ulliams Souza, Boithang Haokip, Penn Orji, Yamagata, Robin Gurung, Aibor Khongjee, Kunzang Bhutia.

New Signings : Rocus Lamare, Dan Gelu Ignat, Yuta Kinowaki, Aser Dipanda

Promoted from Academy : Phurba Lachenpa,Sheen Stevenson, Allen Lyngdoh, Novin Gurung

Description of the new signings

Yuta Kinowaki is a versatile Japanese midfielder,who is also adept in defence and, along with Ignat, should provide solid protection in front of the defence. Kinowaki spent his youth years at Kyoto Sanga FC in Japan before moving to Poland and Latvia, where he was a member of the Energetyk Gryfino and BFC Daugavpils teams respectively.After one season at Daugavpils and a short stint at Kyoto Shiko SC back in his home country, Kinowaki signed up for Aizawl FC, for whom he scored two goals in the 2015-16 I-

Dan Gelu Ignat has spent most of his career in his native Romania, though he most recently played for Al-Ramtha and That Ras in the Jordan Premier League. The right-footed central defender started his youth football with ŞCF Gica Popescu in Romania and has played for various clubs in that country between 2004 and 2014 in Liga 1 and Liga 2 of the Romanian Football League.

Aser Dipanda, on the other hand, spent the majority of his career from 2008 to 2014 playing in Spain with Valencia B, La Roda, Olímpic de Xàtiva, and Alzira. He then moved to India and joined DSK Shivajians in the I-League 2015-16 season where he scored 7 goals for the new club from Pune last year.


GK : 
Vishal Kaith retains his spot as the goalkeeper. He had been a little inconsistent last season but has the talent and potential to be a good shot-stopper. He did look better and much more composed on the ball as the season rolled on. He will certainly be hoping for better things this season.

RB : Samuel Sadap is expected to start as the right back. He made 13 appearances last season and with Aibor and Robin missing from the team this season, he will be expected to shoulder a big responsibility at the back.

CB : Sana Singh has been a regular starter for ISL outfit Delhi Dynamos this season where he was at the top of his game. The 20-year-old is expected to partner Ignat at the heart of the defence.Ignat, meanwhile is very new to Indian Football and will have to settle quickly if he has to fill up for Aibor and Yamagata’s absence. 

LB : Nim Dorjee should start from where he left in the last season. He will have Pritam as his back up and also Zoding, who can easily slot in as a left back whenever necessary.

CM : Lajong have managed to sign Yuta Kinowaki and Rocus Lamare, to fill in the shoes of Penn Orji. Both are downgrade when compared with Penn but together, if they gel, the Nigerian shouldn’t be missed. Both these players are good defensively, which would give the wingers the liberty to move up and join the attack. Both these players will act as the defensive screens, thus shielding the inexperienced backline. 

RM : Alen Deory is expected to start as the right midfielder. Having experience of playing in the ISL, Deory will have to shoulder some extra responsibility this season as he will be filling the big boots of Boithang Haokip. 

LM : Samuel Lalmuanpuia was the breakout star of last season and coach Thangboi Singto will have a tough time in selecting between Zoding and Samuel.

 FW : Fabio Pena ,the 26 year-old Brazilian, had made 14 appearances last season scoring four goals. He will be the man to watch out for along with former DSK Shivajians striker Dipanda Dicka. Dicka notched up 7 goals from 14 appearances last season and will look to continue his good run in the I-League.


Q. Have there been any management/coaching changes ?
No. The coaching team remains the same with Thangboi Singto at the helm.

Q. Will their style be the same this season? More offensive/more defensive?
Lajong are expected to go with a 4-4-2 diamond formation. They will be playing a much more balanced game this season and might look to defend deep against better oppositions.

Q. Was last season’s finishing position a fair reflection of performances through the season?
Lajong finished sixth last season, winning only four of their  16 league fixtures. They were away from home and the 6th place was a fair reflection of their performance which was mostly below par.

Q. Are there currently any problems at the club on or off the pitch which may have an impact this season?
No problems reported.

Q. Any players returning from long-term injuries- if so then what kind of shape are they in?
None as such.

Q. Any players who have shown signs of big improvements over the summer (maybe young players breaking through)?
Sana Singh and Samuel have been in great form and should likely be the next big stars of Lajong.

Q. What expectations do you, the fans and the club have this season?
Lajong are expected to finish in the mid-table once again.

Q. How has pre-season gone, have results/performances been as expected?
The club hardly had much time for pre-season due to the congested footballing fixture of India. However, Lajong were champions of the Shillong Premier League 2016 and have won the pre season friendly match they played against Neroca FC in penalties.  So the pre season result has been good.

Q. Have there been any significant alterations to the stadium or pitch?
No. Shillong Lajong will play their home matches in the next edition of the I-League at the Jawaharlal Nehru  Stadium, Shillong. The stadium has a capacity of 30,000 spectators and the matches will be played in astro turf as was the case last season.