‘We will fight and qualify for I-League,’ says coach Hering Shangpliang
Shillong, Mar 9: Shillong Premier League champions Langsning Football Club will play their opening fixture of the Second Division League, the I-League qualifying tournament, on 14th March at the JN Stadium here.
The team will take on the reserve side of Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Chennaiyin FC at 4PM in the opening game.
Langsning will be vying to be the fourth Shillong-based side to qualify for the I-League and will be banking in the main on local talent, with Brolington Warlarpih captaining the club, while the head coach role will be in the very capable hands of the respected Hering Shangpliang. Veteran footballer Restomwell Khriam is the vice-captain.
The club held a press conference here today, urging the fans to get behind the team in their quest for an I-League berth.
“We started our pre-season training in January and the preparations have been good. Eighty percent of the squad are from Meghalaya and we have three foreigners plus a few players from Sikkim and Manipur,” Shangpliang said. “We hope to qualify for the I-League. That will be a great boost to football because of the passion of the fans and the talent of our boys. It’s a great opportunity for the Shillong boys. The foreigners we have show great spirit in training and we will fight and qualify,” he added.
The local flavour runs right through the team, with Langsning putting a lot of confidence in the players they won their first SPL title with, like Warlarpih, goalkeeper Frolicson Dkhar, the team’s top scorer Ebormi Buam and Donlad Diengdoh, who scored the winning goal in the final. Langsning have also added a bit of extra scoring bite, having signed Kynsaibor Lhuid and Kitboklang Pale, who were the top-scorers in Shillong’s First Division last year.
Two of the team’s three foreigners – Lancine Toure from Ivory Coast and Kento Sakurai of Japan – were present at the press conference.
“It’s my first time in Shillong, but I’ve played in India before. I’m really happy to be here and the team have been doing great in pre-season. We’ll do our best to give a good result,” Toure, a defender, said.
Midfielder Sakurai, on the other hand, had never played in India before joining Langsning. “I’ve had to learn how to play the Indian way. But I’ve spent five months here and have become more comfortable. We will do our best for the team and the fans.”
Warlarpih also called on the fans to support the team and he was joined in this by Shangpliang.
“I ask fans to be the 12th man and support us by coming to the game,” the head coach said.
The club have priced the tickets in such a way as to be affordable in the hope that fans will turn out in big numbers like they did when Langsning won the SPL title in December. VIP stand seats will cost Rs 100, the covered gallery seats Rs 50 and Rs 20 for the open gallery.
The 18 teams in the Second Division League have been divided into three groups and the preliminary stage will be played on a home and away basis.
Langsning have been grouped with TRAU FC of Manipur, Mohammedan Sporting and the reserve sides of Indian Super League teams Bengaluru FC, Jamshedpur FC and Chennaiyin FC.
The winners of each group and the best second-placed team will qualify for the final round. However, if any of the ISL reserve teams finish as winners or runners-up, qualification will pass to the next best non-ISL team. The final round will be played at a central venue in May.
Each club can register a maximum of three foreign players for the Second Division out of which one has to be a national of an Asian Football Confederation country.
Frolicson Dkhar, Ronney Chel Khongrangjem, Brolington Warlarpih (C), Sameer Pradhan, Dibinroy Nongspung, Poibiang Pohshna, Donborlang Nongkynrih, Jacson Glei Da Silva Clemente (Brazil), Fullmoon Mukhim, Ebormi Buam, Milancy Khongstia, Banteilang Lyngdoh, Donlad Diengdoh, Ronnie Mcdonald Nongbri, Lancine Toure (Ivory Coast), Ronaldkyndon Lyngdoh Nonglait, Kitboklang Pale, Nagen Tamang, Md Fayazuddin Shah, Kynsaibor Lhuid, Arnesius Marwein, Stephanson Pale, Restomwell Khriam (V-C), Kento Sakurai (Japan), Rickyson Makdoh, Sonam Zangpo Bhutia, Surjay Kumar Pariyar, Eborlang Nongtdu, Iakmenlang Khongjee
(Photo contributed by Langsning FC)