Football fan Bhogtoram Mawroh was unimpressed by Shillong Lajong’s performance in their 2-0 defeat at Churchill Brothers on Friday.
It was the same story for Lajong’s front line: missed chances which ultimately cost the team full points. Abdoulaye Koffi has the strength but not the speed and Aiman Al-Hagri has the guile but not the confidence to find the back of the net.
Saihou Jagne has just played one game only but the signs are not looking good. Whether it is the I-League or the ISL, it is not the Indian players but the foreigners who make the difference. This is especially in the case of strikers. Therefore, it becomes very important that the recruitment of foreigners is carried out properly.
It would seem that in the context of what has transpired until now, except for the defensive positions, the players brought in have failed to deliver the goods. In the seasons that Lajong did well their strikers were among the top scorers in the league. How will the team sort this out? Can they somehow coerce their strikers into form? Or will they dip into the market and get new players?
The first option seems highly unlikely. The present coaching staff have always chosen to play their foreigners when they are fit and have seldom shown any intention of removing them from the game even when they are not doing well. This was not the case with the previous coach who was not averse to dropping foreigners.
Either the present coaching staff do not believe that the Indian players they have at their disposal are good enough to impact the game or they don’t want to risk the ramifications of not playing foreigners when they are available.
Both, however, do no good for the attitude of the foreign players, who know that they will keep getting game time no matter how they play.
It does not mean that they are not trying their best but it is only when you are made to struggle for your position in the team that you try more than your best. And this is exactly what the team needs right now.
There are certain other recurring themes about the game against Churchill that were very disappointing.
This was another game where Lajong began the game very badly. Maybe it was the change of tactics (from a back four to a back three) that made the players confused about their roles.
That, however, should have been sorted out in training. But by the time the players adapted to the tactics and to the pace of the ground and the game, half the match was over with a goal down. A similar thing happened in the games against NEROCA and Indian Arrows which Lajong should have won.
It is very difficult to get back in the game after half of it is over. The next fixture is also an away game and if the team starts the game badly again then they are going to be in big trouble.
The team’s philosophy of grooming youngsters is commendable but the way they have gone about it has not been highly satisfactory.
This is seen in the fact that there is no leadership on the ground from the youngsters. Making a young player captain does not automatically create a leader. What it does is put additional pressure on a player who is finding it difficult to deal with the physicality of the league.
At the moment he, like other players in the team, needs to focus on improving themselves and understanding their own roles in the team. It is not that the team has players who are participating in the league for the first time. Many of the young players have been around the I-League circuit for some time now, but mostly as squad players.
This lack of any meaningful experience is not helping the team. If Lajong want to act as a feeder club (self-admitted) they need to have a better plan in place.
Is this team the worst team in the league? No! But some hard decisions will have to be taken by the management and the players (Indian and especially foreigners) will have to pull up their socks.
(TSR file photo)