Concerned about the languid nature of Langsning’s performance against Bengaluru FC reserves, Bhogtoram Mawroh hopes they learn their lessons quickly if they’re to qualify for the final round of the Second Division League…

Sometimes defeat teaches your more than victory. Langsning did not lose the match but considering the quality of the opposition, crucial points were lost.

To be honest, I am very disappointed with Bengaluru reserves. They have good players but many of those didn’t play and those who played are not good enough.

Watching the last match against Chennaiyin reserves, I thought that Langsning would win by at least 3-0. However, after scoring the first goal they couldn’t kill the game and this allowed Chennaiyin to come back into the match via a mistake by the goalkeeper. This was compounded by profligacy in front of the goal, which Bah Hering Shangpliang had also touched upon in his post-match conference.

The same thing happened this time around. With players fluffing their chances to increase the lead, Bengaluru were allowed a lifeline into the game. Many may say that it is their finishing that has let them down again. I agree but I think there is something else that is more worrying. This has to do with the approach of the players towards certain oppositions or, as was evident in this case, certain periods during a match.

During Langsning’s title-winning SPL season three matches stood out for me. The first one was the match against Wahingdoh. This was a match in which Langsning were miles ahead of the opposition. The first half, however, was a very dull affair with Wahingdoh not able to mount a proper attack and Langsning looking disinterested to inject any purpose into the game. I had to leave halfway during the match due to a prior appointment. The next day I came to know that Langsning had won 3-0. To be honest, it was match they could have won by almost a dozen to none.

Then there was the other match against Boys Sports Company, which Langsning drew via a penalty in the final stages. These games were highly frustrating because, in spite of being the much more superior side, Langsning had put in a disappointing performance. They were laid back in their approach and their apathy almost cost them the match against Boys Sports.

Contrast this with the way Shillong Lajong played against Boys Sports. They pumped 11 goals against their opponents with Samuel Kynshi getting a hat-trick. For me it was a very satisfying victory because it was against Boys Sports Company that Lajong had lost the First Division final (after they were relegated from the SPL) during the 2013 season. This was a match in which after scoring goals for fun in the league stage Redeem Tlang missed one of the easiest chances and in the process lost the trophy for the team. Boys Sports’ humiliation this time around was very sweet revenge. The important point to take out of the game was that Lajong were a much superior side and they made sure that the opposition would remember that for a long time.

And then there is the third match, which was one of the best I have watched in recent times. It was against Lajong in which Langsning completely outplayed the former. The energy level of Langsning’s players was tremendous and the way they harried Lajong was a treat to watch. Lajong’s players got angry and started wagging fingers at the fourth official, which I think was very disrespectful and worthy of a card if not a send-off. The game ended in a draw but there was no doubt in the mind of the people who were at the stadium who the winner was.

I want more such matches and I want other teams to challenge Lajong in the same way that Langsning did that day. Incidentally, Bah Hering had done the same before as well. On that occasion, his team (in this case Malki) completely outplayed Lajong and won the match. For me Lajong can only improve if the competition around them also improves. The more the team and the players are challenged the more they will be forced to raise their game and this will only make them better players.

Take the case of Russia, who, in recent times, have not been able to produce a good football team either at the international level or the club level. One of the main reasons for this is the very high wage structure in Russia, which ensures that top players from country don’t have to go abroad to make a career. While this is beneficial for the financial status of the players (which is very important), the standard of football in Russia has suffered. This is because the best players are playing against others who are below them or past their prime. Challenge is simply not there and with it the quality of the national team also goes down. There might be one or two who can become world class but you cannot win international trophies with only a couple of players.

In the same way, if Lajong have to get better, the competition around them has to get better. For me I would like to see at least three teams from Shillong in the I-League. We have many capable local players, but Lajong and Langsning are not enough. We need at least one more team. Only if that happens can real justice be done to the talent that exists in Meghalaya.

Coming back to Langsning’s performance against Bengaluru, for large parts of the match, especially the second half, it seemed that this was the team that played against Wahingdoh and Boys Sports Company rather than the one that played against Lajong.

To be fair, Langsning were attacking and if Kitboklang Pale had not overrun or if someone had pounced on the loose ball that the Bengaluru goalkeeper spilled, maybe they would have scored more. But they didn’t and therefore we are having this conversation.

In the first half, Langsning played on the counter with quick release balls for the runners to run behind the defence. This paid dividends with the goal from Kitbok, who throughout the match looked like he was gliding effortlessly over the pitch. What an elegant player! And this time around he had a very strong game from the very first whistle. I think if he can add a yard of pace or more he will be become a much better player.

Kynsaibor Lhuid, who looked disinterested in the first match, was more energised playing in the midfield. His quick feet and through balls were very good to watch. He also performed his defensive duties very well and in the second half, when he played further up the pitch, his performance only improved. Fullmoon Mukhim was also a standout player who shielded the defence very well by not allowing the opposition players any time on the ball. He also showed his attacking talent by making dangerous run into the box and unleashing a shot, which should have got him a goal.

Ronaldkydon Lyngdoh Nonglait performed his role well after coming on for Kento Sakurai, who was also looking good until his injury. Donlad Diengdoh also had a decent game. In defence both Brolington Warlarpih and Dibinroy Nongspung had a strong game for the most part.

If the Bengaluru goal had not been scored from his side of the pitch, Dibinroy could have been one of my picks for best player.

Nagen Tamang and Milancy Khongstia were among the few who had a bad game. Milancy in particular seemed very nervous for some reason. He was taking too much time with the ball and didn’t look very confident. I am sure in a week’s time he will regain his confidence. If he is unable to do so, Restom Khriam or Poibang Pohshna can come in for him.

When looked at in totality almost everyone played well and that’s where the complacency came from. Bengaluru’s goal didn’t come from the right side but the left where Dibinroy had, until then, had a good game. This, in my opinion, was because the team was playing with the same pace for the majority of the second half.

It was a pace that reeked of complacency and gave the impression that the team were happy with the one-goal lead. The game was drifting dangerously and nobody from Langsning seemed to be aware of it. The fact that they had lost a one-goal lead only recently should have alerted them to the dangerous situation in which they were stuck.

In short, there was no desperation among the Langsning players. This languid approach was most evident when the defence went to sleep during the second goal. Even after the Bengaluru player had beaten his marker the cross could have been cleared. But the central defenders stood like they were made of stones rather than flesh and blood. There was no reaction at all.

The dull pace of the game had lulled everybody into complacency. This is very dangerous. The format of the Second Division League is such that the winner of the group and the second overall best team will go through to the final round. This means that number of goals scored will be just as important as points accumulated. In the I-League you have to be better than just the last team to stay in the league. Lapses of concentration and occasional complacency may not cost you too much in the end. But in this tournament you have to be the best if you want to qualify. As such, there is no place for complacency. From the first whistle till the last, the players have to be ultra focused on what is happening on the field. They have to play at a pace that will always keep the opposition defence and their own players on their toes at all times. And when they are on top, they need to make sure they get the maximum out of it.

This is just the second match and for me, it was important that they got this lesson at this stage. Full points in this match would have been welcome but I will take qualification at the end anytime. Langsning are better than what yesterday’s performance showed. I hope that they can show us exactly that next match. I wish all the best for Langsning for their future matches.

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